ProcessSchool Study Success

Notes : Quality Notetaking for School

Notes: All about quality note taking

Before we jump into today’s post, I’d like to introduce a new series on my blog: the School Study Success series (or SSS series). As the name suggests, the content will include anything from study techniques, school success, and other related topics (stress, exams, etc.).  It started with my previous post, here. I really hope you find this helpful, and know that there is a lot more to come during the next few weeks.

Today’s post gives you different ways to write (or type) a complete set of notes effectively and efficiently.  Not only will it allow you to cut down on studying time, it will also help you remember the information more easily. 

From Textbook To Paper

Combining the teacher’s notes with your own

Most of the time, teachers will send you weekly notes on the material covered in class. The best way to ensure your notes are complete is to combine the teacher’s notes with your own. Different teachers will use different tools (PDF, Power Point, etc.). Below I provide you with the several ways I adapted my notetaking regimen to fit the teacher’s format.  

1. PDF [adding text by hand]

One teacher had PDF notes that were 3/4 textbook material. The easiest thing for me was to simply print out the PDF files and handwrite missing textbook definitions/theories and examples to complete the notes. All that was left to do, was add any relevant information given in class that wasn’t readily available (ex. answers to students’ questions). 

Adding handwritten notes to PDF documents.

2. PDF [adding text with computer]

Other teachers provided us with PDF notes that had a lot of pictures and bullet form text. If that were the case, I preferred to type the textbook material next to the corresponding slide(s) and then print out the document for class. Why? Because it allowed me to use a smaller font. Therefore, I could write a lot and the slides would still have a clean, clear look.

If I had a teacher that spoke quickly and added a lot during class time, I would bring my computer and type in the information instead, and then print the document. This way, I could always go back to the text and modify it if I made mistakes (plus, I type quicker than I write). 

PDF notes using your computer

3. Power Point Format

I had a few teachers that used Power Point for their class notes.  If their notes were good (ex. parts already taken from textbook – what a time saver!), I typed the remaining textbook material to each corresponding slide.

Tip •  Since the teacher gives you the original file, you can modify the number of slides and reorganize their order as you wish. You’ll have to adjust text size so that it all fits in. Preferably, you’ll want to group the slides per section, and include the same subheadings used in the textbook.

Each powerpoint “pack” would be the COMPLETE chapter notes (teacher’s + class notes + textbook notes*).

*Careful not to repeat the information in different places; keep the notes as succinct and clear as possible.


4. Typing notes from scratch

Sometimes, you’ll have to type your notes from scratch. Meaning that the teacher either does not prepare any written material, or their slides look like this:


If that’s the case, then I strongly suggest that you prepare your notes in advance.

The reasons:

  1. Much easier for you to follow in class;
  2. You won’t waste time writing information already provided in the textbook.

Below are 3 techniques you should consider when you are writing/typing your notes from scratch. 

Text to Notes

  • Use bullet points to section off huge paragraphs
  • Use numbered lists so that it is less likely for you to forget material
  • Use abbreviations (within = w/in; between = b/w; because = b/c) and acronyms.

Text to Notes

Text to Diagrams/Visuals

  • Visuals are my favorite. A lot of times you can summarize 2-3 pages of textbook material into one single figure/diagram.
  • I usually photocopy the figures from the textbook and add terminology, definitions, and side notes. 
  • Visual aids bring the material all together, making it easier to make sense of it all. 
  • Excellent memory aid. 

Text to Visual

Text to Tables

  • When you are being bombarded with information, especially on topics that are similar in nature, you might risk mixing it together.
  • Tables allow you to visualize the similarities and differences between concepts.
  • Tables help you organize information for better recall. 

Text to Tables

I hope this post helped you and gave you some ideas. If you have any suggestions for future posts on the topic, please let me know in the comments below!

School Study Success series

Study Preparation and Techniques

Notes: Quality Notetaking for School


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