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Reading: Note Taking


Taking notes and making notes

Note-taking and note-making are an integral part of successful study and learning. Be sure to keep accurate records of the sources you read for citation and referencing, including the author’s and editor’s name, date of publication, title of article/chapter, title of book or journal, publisher, place of publication, volume number, pages, edition, URL and date accessed. You can use EndNote but you must understand referencing, why, and what is expected of you, so that you can pick up on gaps and errors that EndNote makes.


The Cornell System of note taking and note making incorporates the 6R’s method. The 6R’s are record, review, refine, reduce, recall and reflect. Recording in an academic context means to note (write or audio record) the relevant parts of another’s research or lecturer’s information and ideas into your own record.



It is important to review your notes. To be most effective, you should review your notes within 24 hours of making them. This enables you to rely on your immediate memory of what you have heard, seen or read that you want to note. Thus, you will be able to fill in the gaps by elaborating on and highlighting the notes that you took during your note taking. You are now into note making – expanding on the first step of note taking: recording.


Note taking styles


For your notes to be useful to you, refining is required. This stage is much more active than passive and engages critical thinking. Refining includes integrating different sources into one in your notes. This is synthesising. You note and group common findings and ideas. You also note different and contrasting ideas. You next work on reducing your notes to manageable and useable information transforming into your knowledge.

Strategies for Synthesis is another great video on synthesising your notes.

Try it yourself