One of the most fundamental skills to learn and master in school is taking notes. Note taking skills also are useful on the job for recording meetings or seminars.
Note taking involves making a permanent written record of main points and supporting details to which one may refer later. Although note taking most commonly is used to record oral presentations, note taking strategies may also be used to record notes from written sources.
The skill of taking notes is probably most challenging for auditory learners and kinesthetic learners because of the manner in which they receive and process information (see the Modality Strength section of the Monitoring page). However, all students, regardless of learning style, may benefit from the learning strategies discussed in this page.
Many of the note taking strategies covered here require some amount of instruction. To be most effective, they should be introduced to the individual and illustrated with concrete examples by an instructor or facilitator.
Notes are not just collections of information. The information must be recorded correctly and in an organized manner in order to be of use at a later time. Note taking strategies, then, are designed to improve one's ability to take more accurate, more complete, and more organized notes.
Note taking strategies are not just for students. Some of the strategies outlined in this page may be used by instructors for the purposes of improving lecture structure and enhancing student understanding of material. The strategies may also be applied in the workplace.
Improving one's note taking skills by using the strategies described in this page is advantageous for a number of reasons. Note taking skills help one to pay better attention to an oral presentation or written document because they keep the individual active. In school, good note taking skills aid in understanding of material, effective preparation for exams, and completion of assignments. They also improve reading comprehension.
Note taking strategies are broadly applicable to a variety of tasks and subjects. Once they are introduced and mastered, the strategies often become "second nature" to the individual and therefore don't require repeated work to use, unlike some the memory strategies.