Note-taking / Summarising / Paraphrasing

Note-taking / Summarising / Paraphrasing


Students are able to take effective notes for a wide range of purposes, from oral & multi-media presentations to written research.

For all note-taking strategies, students should never copy and paste.  They should read a section (paragraph), remove the source, and then take notes on a separate document in point form.  This will ensure processing of information, rather than risking plagiarism.



Pre-Reading Strategy – “Read around the Text”

This strategy sets the scene prior to reading.  It does not replace the actual reading, but puts the reading in context.   Students use the model below and make notes around the circle.  This may be done independently or in pairs or small groups.


Strategic Note-Taking Method

This method works for both lecture style notes or readings.  The page is divided into 4 sections:

  • Topic
  • Background knowledge
  • Main points
  • Vocabulary
  • Summary / Synthesis of key ideas
Date: Topic:
Background knowledge (jot down anything you know about this topic)
Main points / details:1.2.













Summary: how do the key points listed above are relate to each other?

The Cornell Method

This method works for both lecture style notes or readings.  The page is divided into 2 sections:

  • Key words/ideas (1/3 of the page) (if there is a reading, some note-takers prefer to add an optional column for the page number)
  • Summary or explanation of an idea 2/3 of the page

Some note-takers add an additional section at the bottom for either probing questions or a headline statement that synthesises the ideas presented.

Pg Key words Explanation
Probing Questions / Headline Statement 





The Charting Method

This method works for both lecture style notes or readings.  Prepare a chart with 4 columns:

  • What 
  • Applications
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages

These headings can be altered depending on the purpose of the note-taking.  Guidance can be provided by teachers.


What Applications Advantages Disadvantages


Common Abbreviations for Note-taking

Rather than writing out words in full, use or devise simple abbreviations for common words.  Here are some samples.



FIVE NOTETAKING METHODS. (2010, January 1). . Retrieved July 26, 2014, from

Student Support Centre, Northshore Community College. (n.d.). Effective and listening and notetaking. Retrieved from

Wright, J. (2013, January 1). How To: Take Effective Class Notes: Strategic Note-Taking. . Retrieved July 26, 2014, from


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