How To Write Notes Effectively: Tips & Tricks

Do you find it difficult to determine what pieces of knowledge to write down during lectures? Are you wanting to write better and more effective notes to boost your learning? If so, this guide with tips and tricks for writing notes at university is a must-read. 

Notes are an important part of academic life, but it’s about more than just writing down information you’re presented with. 

By effectively writing information down from lectures and seminars to read later, you can process and understand the material you’re being taught properly. 

Note-taking is also a great tool that can help you structure your assessments and research, and is an important skill you can carry through to the working world. 

writing notes tips

Tips & Tricks For Writing Notes 

To get the most out of your university learning and produce effective notes, check out our top tips and tricks. 

Gone are the days of scribbling down notes in lectures which you can’t decipher when it comes to studying, with this guide you’ll become a pro note-taker in no time! 

Tips & Tricks For Writing Notes 

1. Write By Hand 

In this digital age, taking notes on your laptop is increasingly common compared to the old fashioned pen and paper.

However, studies suggest that taking notes by hand improves memory more than a digital device. 

Writing in a notebook is not only an effective way to learn and retain information compared to typing on your laptop or digital device, but it also means that you’re not going to be distracted by notifications that may pop up. 

Although writing on your MacBook might be more convenient, writing in a nice notebook in your own words and handwriting will improve your retention of the material you’re being taught! 

You can always get the best of both worlds and write your notes by hand and then type them up on your laptop later if you prefer studying this way. 

writing by hand university

2. Be Selective

Our next tip for writing notes is to avoid writing down everything you hear or read within a lecture or seminar. 

If you’re someone who likes to write down every word you see on a slideshow presentation or everything your lecturer says, you will have discovered this takes up a lot of your time, and is impractical. 

Instead, you should try to focus on the important points and main ideas that your lecturer is discussing.

Keeping it brief and selective means you’re more likely to understand and remember the key ideas when it’s time to study. 

Although, If you think you may use a full quotation in your assignment, it will be useful to copy the whole thing so that you can refer back to it later with ease. 

being selective when writing notes

3. Use Abbreviations 

As a student you’ll understand the struggle of keeping up with your lecturer and missing important information, but one trick to help you out with this is to use abbreviations and symbols. 

To save yourself time and space instead of writing out full words or phrases you could write in bullet points, or for example you could use “&” instead of “and,”. 

By doing this, you will have more time to write down important content, and it will be easier and quicker to access this information in the future. 

You can always add more information to your notes later if necessary! 

using abbreviations writing notes tips

4. Write In Your Own Words 

Our next tip for writing notes in class is to paraphrase in your own words what your lecturer is discussing, this way the subjects that you’re learning about will make sense to you. 

By writing down your own explanation of what something says or means, it will help you to understand the material and remember it later on when it comes to completing essays, assignments and exams. 

Although, if you’re writing notes from a textbook, it’s important to use quotation marks when jotting down material from other sources, as you could end up dealing with a plagiarism issue.

You may get confused at a later date and think someone else’s quote is yours!

writing in your own words

5. Be Organised 

Being organised is key to effective note-taking whilst at university. 

When it comes to writing material down, we’d suggest using headings and subheadings to organise your notes by topics. 

If you can, you should also use a different notebook for each module or divide your notes into sections as this will make it easier to find specific information later on when revising or completing assessments. 

Without doing this, you’ll have cluttered notes which can become confusing when it comes to reviewing them. 

It’s also important to be organised prior to note-taking, so make sure to bring all the necessary tools, such as paper, pens, highlighters, and post-it notes to your lectures and seminars. 

organised note taking

6. Include Visuals 

Taking notes isn’t the most exciting activity, but you can jazz things up a little bit by using visual elements rather than just writing down words. 

By using colours, patterns and mind maps as well as highlighting and underlining you’ll make your notes more memorable.

However, try not to get distracted by making things look nice, it’s not an art competition unfortunately. 

It’s important to remember that there are various different note-taking methods, and what may work for one student may not work for another. 

It’s about experimenting with each note taking technique and seeing what works best for you and your learning process! 

visual note taking

7. Review Your Notes 

After a lecture has finished, you should take some time to review and revise what you have written down, rather than leaving it until it comes to doing your assessments. 

We’d suggest going through your notes somewhere quiet, so that you can fill in any gaps and reinforce your understanding of the material. 

This way you can add anything you missed or want to find out more about, and if there’s anything you’re not sure about, you can flag this and research more about this subject.

If you can’t find the answers elsewhere, don’t be afraid to talk to your lecturer for help! 

Remember, what you do after lectures is just as important as what you do during them. 

writing notes tips reviewing work

8. Share Notes With Others 

Lastly within our post of tips for writing notes is gathering with your course mates and exchanging what you’ve written. 

You may find that they’ve written down information that you missed or they can offer you help on something you’re unsure about, or vice versa. 

By doing so, you can update your notes and share ideas with other like-minded students.

You could even quiz each other on different topics if you wanted to! 

However, bear in mind that not everyone will be open to sharing their notes, so don’t take it personally if someone turns you down. 

sharing notes with other students

Hopefully our tips and tricks for writing effective notes at university have been helpful.

Remember, there’s no one size fits all approach to note-taking, with time and effort, you will develop your own personal note-taking style that works for you.

If you’re considering getting a curve card, you should read our student guide on everything you need to know next.