Skip to Main Content

Research Help: Notetaking

Note-Taking Apps

Tips & Tricks

  • Try voice recording lectures/presentations (with consent) and making your notes afterward.

    • This allows you to fully attend to the information as it is presented, and create study notes afterward

  • When taking lecture notes, do not try to write everything down word-for-word
    • LISTEN to information
    • THEN summarize or record key points only

As you search, take notes. This process should take approximately 40% of the time you have earmarked for this project. Traditionally, students have used index or (note) cards to take notes and stay organized. Many students (and teachers) still insist on that method. However, with technology, there are different methods available for taking notes. 

No matter what method you choose, the actual process is the same:

  1. Skim. Skim through the article first to know whether it will or will not be useful.
  2. Read. Read and understand what you've read. Read an entire paragraph or section and state verbally or in writing what you have just read.
  3. Select. Be picky.  Only write down notes that will be useful later in writing the paper.
  4. Record. Jot the source information on the notes somewhere.

  • Don’t copy word-for-word unless you plan on using it later as a quotation.
  • Abbreviate and use incomplete sentences, as long as you understand the meaning.
  • Make a diagram or mini-outline of key points (Main Idea - Sub Idea) for long paragraphs.
  • Test yourself!  Read a paragraph until you feel you understand it.  Without looking, write down what you remember.  Go back and read the original work to make sure that the words are different but the meaning is the same.  The extra reading will also drill into the content.
  • Don't get lazy and just substitute words here and there.  If you copy this later in your draft, is considered plagiarism because you are still using the writer's style.

Notecards are one of the simplest ways to organize your research.  As you read through your sources, record quotations and paraphrase information that you feel is important for supporting your claim.  To use notecards when organizing your information, follow the steps below:

  1. Record important quotations and paraphrased passages from your sources.
  2. Title your notecards according to the main idea of the quotation.
  3. Paraphrase that information.
  4. Copy the in-text citation into your notecard.
  5. Colour-code the cards topically using your research questions.
  6. Re-order your notecards according to how you want your essay organized.
  7. Copy the outline format of your cards into a word doc, and begin filling in your analysis!