Note Taking Tips

Note takingEffective Note Taking Tips

This is the third post in my series on effective note taking tips to help you become a better professional or more  successful student.

The first post, The Art of Note Taking explained why note taking is important and how to use symbols next to important points in your notes. The second post, Note Taking Techniques: Two-Column Method, gave you some more note taking tips. It explained how to divide up your page into 3 separate blocks for notes, keywords and questions and finally summary writing.

In this post I’ll look at the Outline Method, the Flow-Based Approach,  and some specific language points to listen for when attending a meeting, a conference or lecture.

More note taking tips

The Outline Method

This is a linear, highly organized way to take notes; it helps you lay out key ideas and concepts using bullet points and dashes.  Here is an example using the term S.M.A.R.T., which I mentioned in the second post on Note Taking Techniques.

S.M.A.R.T. is a memory device to help you remember important criteria in setting objectives 0r goals.

  • S stands for specific
    – be clear about the who, what and where of your objective know
    – know when you want to complete it and why
    – a general goal:  learn more about proofreading;  a specific goal:  make a short list of punctuation,  capitalization and spelling rules,
  • M stands for measurable
    –  have concrete criteria in mind for achieving your goal
    –  ask yourself how much or how many questions
    –   a non-measurable goal:  write a letter to a client;  a measurable goal:  draft a three-paragraph letter to Mr. Smith by 3:00 p.m. this afternoon

You get the idea how to use the Outline Method. Find out more about smart goals.

The Flow-Based Approach

This is one of many note taking tips that Scott Young teaches to become an effective listener.  This is an advanced technique for connecting and linking ideas. You write down the major ideas in a few words and not entire sentences.  You also use diagrams and arrows to link ideas.

For example, in my post, How to Write with Coherence, I distinguish between coherence and cohesion.



helps understanding
creates sense of continuity
has clear topic sentence

links sentences together
uses transitional expressions
has sequence markers

Find out more about Scott Young’s work in holistic learning in his book, Learn More, Study Less.

Final Note Taking Tips

When attending meetings, lectures or conferences, pay attention to the language the speaker uses.  Language is a clue for what it important. Make a note of it when speakers:

  1. repeat themselves
  2. show key ideas in a PowerPoint  presentation
  3. use expressions such as “Keep this in mind.”
  4. use pivot words to show relationships – to draw emphasis (indeed, in fact) , to contrast (conversely, however),  or to show cause or effect (therefore, as a result)


1 thought on “Note Taking Tips”

  1. Pingback: Note Taking Techniques: Two-Column Method - Business English HQ | Business English HQ

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *