How to take good notes while listening

A student making notes
Making notes

As well as referring to books, journal articles and web-based material during your academic studies, you will find that lectures are a source of useful information. The lectures that you attend on your course provide important information for assignments, exam revision or simply help to extend your knowledge of your own subject area.

For these reasons, it is important that you are able to take good notes while listening to a lecture or presentation.

In this activity you will consider what makes a good set of notes. You will also explore some techniques for taking efficient and useful notes while listening and practise note-taking from a lecture.

Activity 1: What makes a good set of lecture notes?

Think about the features that distinguish a good set of lecture notes.

Look at each of these statements about good notes and decide if they are true or false. Select your answers from the drop down box and then read the comments.

1. Good notes are legible and include a title and date.

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2. Good notes should not be more than one page in length.

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3. Good notes are well spaced out on paper and make use of lists.

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4. Good notes do not contain all words and sentences written in full.

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5. Good notes should always be written in one colour (preferably blue or black).

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Activity 2: Techniques for note-taking

A student listening to a recording

Claudia is a student on an online course in Business Studies. She made some notes while watching a recorded lecture on B2B Enabling Technologies. Part of the lecture focused on problems concerning the use of the Internet for business to business transaction purposes.

Study Claudia's notes on this part of the lecture and then look at the list of note-taking techniques below. Select the techniques that she used in her notes. Then check your answer.

Claudia's notes:

B2B enabling technologies & their problems - Prof. Lewis 14/3/07

Internet made automat'n of B2B transact'ns poss.
BUT some probs. linked to ->
E.g. Large orgs. needs integrat. + many B partners (= e.g. extern. suppliers)
so interoperable applics. required

a) some servs. autonomous -> diffic. to make transactional
b) many servs. that change need integrat. -> so flexib'y needed

Bs. need confid. that transactions safe
At pres. only large orgs. do this because time-consuming proc.

Notetaking techniques:

spacing between points
underlining/capital letters
ordered points
different colours
keywords only

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Activity 3: Practise note-taking

You are now going to practise making notes while listening to an extract from a lecture given by a university lecturer in chemistry. You do not need to be studying chemistry to understand the lecture.

The title of the lecture is 'Making an invention: The Hot Drink Can'

First prepare to take notes using either a pen and paper or by recording them in the box below. Then listen once to the extract and produce your set of lecture notes.

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Compare the notes that you have taken with the example notes below. Check that you have included the main points, and used similar techniques to save time and present information clearly.

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Here is a transcript of the lecture extract:

Transcript (pdf, 60KB). You may wish to print this document.

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