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Taking Notes

Cornell University published its guidelines for taking notes during lectures by emphasizing the Five R’s:

Record.  When you are listening to a speaker, jot down your notes in long-hand.  Stay away from abbreviations which may not be decipherable later on. If you are reading online material, such as an e-book, clip important passages.

Reduce.  Summarize key points as you go along and highlighting key words or phrases.  On you device, do this with by using different colors.

Recite.  Go back over your notes later and recite them aloud, using the key points as a guide.

Reflect.  Take the time to review and reflect on your notes. Draw your own conclusions from the material.

Review.  From time to time, review your notes to refresh your memory.

Cornell’s approach recommends a couple of drafts of your notes.  The first while you are listening to a lecture for example, or reading a book.  The second time, you organize and refine your notes, adding and highlighting key items.

Many Cloud services (such as Evernote) have word processors built into their specialized apps. For example, to jot down a note in Evernote, you simply create a note and a screen is ready for you to begin entering text.  It comes complete with different fonts and bullets.  Other Cloud services, such as Google Drive, work well with common file formats, such as Microsoft Word’s DOC or RTF formats.  These formats preserve the fonts and allow for bulleting, numbering, and even the retention of prior versions as needed.  So, instead of simple text editing, you can have a more complete set of notes, with boldfaced fonts for headings and different colors of fonts for emphasis.

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