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How do I take notes?

A good note-taking strategy can make a BIG difference!

icon pencil writing in notebook

Create Space

If you use a notebook, use one side for the notes you take in class, and leave the other side blank to use as your processing space after class. If you type out your notes, annotate areas you want to go back to review or add in additional information later.

Did You Know?
Writing notes by hand is reported to lead to better retention of and connection to information (and there are some studies to back this up). It could be worth trying!

icon pen writing on page with three rectangles branching off

Use Color

Color can help your focus, attention, and visual processing.

Use colors to create a code to track mechanisms in chemistry or biochemistry reactions, visualize aspects of a molecule or molecular pathway, or differentiate what parts of a brain or system do and how they do it. Color can create a visual key for you to reference.

icon magnifying glass with question mark in the lens

Use Visuals

A visual note-taking style provides memory cues.

          • Use bullet points to isolate characteristics
            Use arrows to show connections and flow
            Underline important terms
            Star** something you want to come back to or highlight
            Use your margins: add timestamps, put checks in the margin when you understand a problem or a question mark ? when you feel lost

icon pencil with curved lines from the point to a lightbulb and star

Be Creative

Use creativity when taking notes. You stay more engaged and you can track and monitor your understanding. It also gives you a quick visual reference to quickly find something, identify your gaps, or see where you need to add in more detail.


You're not done with your notes yet!

There is important work to be done with your notes after class.