Lecture Notes Tips

You will be expected to remember, understand, and apply the information in your instructor's lectures. So it is important that your lecture notes are clear and well-organized. We have found from experience that all students can benefit from some of these tips.

1. PREPARE FOR LECTURES. Before class begins try to form some idea of what you expect the lecture to be about. Look at your syllabus. If you have been assigned chapters in a text, have the chapters read, or at least skim the text for main ideas.

2. CLUES. Look for clues that indicate important points. Lecturers will usually indicate what is important by a change in voice, by writing on the chalkboard (if he/she thinks it is important enough to write down - you should too), by announcing straight-out that "these are particularly important facts," or "these are the three major reasons," or other direct clues. Look for non-verbal clues-stopping, walking forward for emphasis, learning forward, gesturing, etc . . .

3. INDENT. Use an outline form. Put main ideas out to the left-hand side of the page. And indent for examples or points listed under topic.

4. EXAMPLES. Be sure to write down as many examples or details as possible - even if you can get down only a few words which summarize the example. Generalizations that seem clear to you in the lecture hall will need the support examples when you study for midterms and finals.

5. USE INK. It won't smear as much as pencil.

6. SEPARATE. Keep a separate notebook or section of a notebook for each class. Your notes for each class need to say together.

7. DATE YOUR NOTES.

8. USE ABBREVIATIONS. No one can write as fast as a lecturer can talk, so you must take down only part of what is said. Abbreviations will help you take down more. If some words are used often in your class, just invent a short abbreviation - SH for Shakespeare, FG or federal government, or E for economics.

9. LEAVE BLANK SPACE. Don't cram your notes together. Leave blank spaces in case the lecturer goes back to a previous point to add information. Spacious notes are easy to study from.