How to Take More Effective Notes

How to Take More Effective Notes

By Sam (C '21)

It’s midterm season! And maybe you’re looking at your notes from the beginning of the semester and you can’t seem to understand what you wrote. Here are some of my strategies for taking better notes!

Start off on the Right Foot!

I always start my notes with a large heading in all caps and the date. I write my dates like this because of my high school English teacher (shout-out to Ms. Rowan) and it’s really useful to instantly know the day AND date you took the notes!

Starting off the notes with a title keeps the page organized and allows you to easily find a topic when reviewing!

Don’t Be Afraid of Color!


When taking notes, I always have my pencil case handy. I have found that three colors are the perfect amount to organize information!

Here, black is the base color. Dark blue is a secondary color, used to draw attention to key words or to indicate a side note. Light blue is an accent color, used for smaller details and organization. These three colors could be anything you choose or in any color scheme! Some people like to highlight or simply use pencil. Find what works best for you!

Note how I used the dark blue for key words in definitions or as titles! Create your own system and stick to it!

Get in Shape!

 Notes don’t have to be all text! Don’t be afraid to box, underline, circle, squiggle, or do anything else to show what is important! When reviewing, it will be helpful to remind yourself what are the key points in your notes.

For example, you might use boxes only for definitions or the color blue is for a foreign language. The possibilities are endless!

Get Creative!

 Don’t be afraid to copy down a picture, drawing, or image from a presentation or even create your own! Whatever helps to conceptualize the information will help you understand it and remember it later!

Remember, these tips are just some of the strategies that I personally use to take notes! What works for me will be different than what works for you! Get inspired by these tips, but make them your own and find a note-taking style that works for you! The most important thing is to just do it! Pay attention to the notes you take and make adjustments to make them work for you!

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