General Question

anon's avatar

How can I take detailed notes efficiently and accurately?

Asked by anon (1631 points ) December 11th, 2009

I’m terrible at writing notes, especially if I have to do it quickly, and tend to miss out important facts or get caught up in too many details. I also spell terribly when writing quickly and often miss out words altogether, it’s ridiculous!

I’ve been watching a documentary on Kon Tiki and fortunately I can pause it to write down important details (and the unimportant ones too because I can’t seem to be able to tell the difference). It gets very old very fast however, having to pause it every two minutes to write things down; so I was wondering if any of the fluther had good techniques for note-taking?

Short of learning short-hand, of course. Although I might give that a go at some-point anyway.

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12 Answers

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

It’s not my style, but I’ve seen many people bring tape recorders to classes with a lot of note-taking.

kewlguy_exABuser's avatar

I have 2 options for you to consider: (1) use a tape recorder and record the lectures and then go back and write them out (2) use one of those digital pens that record everything that you write and then can be downloaded to your computer: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10376086-56.html
hope that helps

SirGoofy's avatar

I was in college before I finally figured out how to take good notes. When I first started college, I seemed to focus more on the actual note taking (in other words, my handwriting) and it seemed to distract me from hearing the lecturer. When it came test or quiz time, I blew it simply because I’d missed so many details from not listening. Oh, my notes looked great…but the meat and potatoes that I needed to remember just wasn’t there. So, for me I began to listen more intently and I would only jot down what I thought was really important. If I didn’t know how to spell something, I would circle it and look it later. So, my notes began to look shorter and more like an outline. I stopped trying to write down word for word what the lecturer was saying. My test scores improved and my note taking got faster and faster. In short…your power of listening and retaining right then is what is most important. Nowadays, with a laptop—- you can create “outline format” notes very quickly and use spellcheck. My best advice is to focus most of your attention on what you are reading or whomever is speaking and try to type your notes without even looking at the screen on your laptop.

Raine's avatar

You can try using your lap top to take notes with, (which is what I do, since my handwriting sucks and I can type moderately fast)

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I tend to use a circled letter to represent words or subjects that are repeated often. Use key words in your notes and eliminate filler words like and, the, for, and, or, but

After a while you may find that you’ve created your own shorthand.

the100thmonkey's avatar

don’t your lecturers use slides?

anon's avatar

Thank you for your answers everyone. However, I’m not actually in college or university (or any other place that requires me to take notes), but I have been doing research for a short story and I need to take notes from documentaries and books (I used topical keywords of places where people take a lot of notes); I was looking for a way of speeding this process up.

@NaturalMineralWater Thank you. I was using abbreviations for some repeated terms but including a lot of filter words. I never thought to discard them…

missingbite's avatar

In that case take a look at a program called Circus Ponies Notebook. It may be just what you need for notes and organization.

Sonnerr's avatar

The best possible way to take notes or in your head, listen to what the person is saying and points that you are considering to be the most important jot down. Don’t make any kind of unnecessary punctuations. Abbreviate as much as possible and even (if you have to ..) bring with you a recording device, they actually work quite well and it will allow you to go back and write things down that are actually the main points of the dialogue.

Alrook's avatar

Try simply writing what is important (keywords, terms, people, dates and the like) so that ideas and the like are easy to look up or make appropriate connections an example would be…
Oscar Wilde – author – wrote poetry – study work “De Profundis” for next class.

tinyfaery's avatar

I used to sell my notes when I was in college. So take it from me: use the outline form; focus on keywords and phrase; read the text before the lecture and if it’s in the book don’t worry about copying it down.

1. Main point
a. support
– fact
– fact
b. support
– fact
– fact

and so on…

Use the margins for offside comments. Those can sometimes come in handy.

zookeeny's avatar

Best thing would be find out your learning style – type it into google and there are some great sites. You find out whether you are a kinesthetic, aural or visual learner. Then they give you tips of how your particuar style of learning would take notes best. It is an awesome thing to find out as you suddenly realise that you can apply it to all learning situations and you will probably look back at your previous ways of learning best and realise there is a pattern to how you have found taking in information in the best way – was it when the teacher drew a diagram or played music in the background or got you all out of your seats to act something out.

If I get chance I will find the actual site I am mostly talking about but chances are you will find it if you type in learning styles study skills or something.

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