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17 Note-Taking Tips That'll Make Everyone In Class Want To Copy You

Yes, this means you have to go to class.

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their best note-taking ideas. Here are some of the best ones:

1. Create a table of contents in your notebooks.

"The most genius hack I ever came across was the one my bestie did. She left the first couple of pages blank in the front of each notebook. Each class she would start a new page for the topic of the lecture, name that topic at the top and number the page, and the topic name and page number would then go on the contents page at the front."

—Susan L. Kenney, Facebook

2. Print out PowerPoints ahead of time and take your notes on them.

"If the professor provides lecture notes ahead of time, PRINT THEM OUT. Take them into class with you, and add your own notes and highlights to them during the lecture."


3. Invest in a Livescribe pen if writing stuff down during class stresses you out.

"Spend the money on a Livescribe. I am TERRIBLE at taking notes because I focus on writing down everything and then lose track of what's being said. The Livescribe saved my life in nursing school. It records what's being said while you write notes so you can write in shorthand or doodle and then go back and tap on the notes anywhere and it will play back what was being said at that exact moment!"



4. Write them by hand, if you can.


"Hand write your notes, don't type them. I always felt like I could remember things more if I hand wrote it. Plus if you don't have your computer sitting in front of you, you're less likely to get distracted!"


5. And rewrite them after class to really drill them into your brain.

BBC Three

"When i'm taking notes in class I always hand write them. The first time I don't usually worry about how neat they are because I always re-write them later."


6. Invest in high-quality pens and paper.

Rachel Miller / BuzzFeed

"Buying good quality materials helps me stay motivated to keep my notes neat. Not expensive materials, but just good quality ones, so a mechanical pencil instead of a stubby dull pencil."


7. If you want to type your notes, use Google Docs.


"I always type my notes on Google Docs. You can access them easily anywhere, editing is simple, and everything just looks clean. You also never know, you might drop coffee on your notebook and ruin your notes, or your computer might crash, but they'll always be backed up on Google Drive if you do them there."



8. Don't focus on writing down every single word your professor or teacher says.


"Do not copy a PowerPoint word for word. Always take the information and rewrite the phrases in your own words so your brain has to process it."


10. Give Cornell notes a try.

Oindrila Dey / Via

"Always do Cornell notes. Even if you don't go back and do questions and a summary, the Cornell style helps to keep your notes more organized. Use different colors for vocabulary, and go back and add information to people or words you don't know in another color."


11. Start condensing the most important points onto a "note sheet."

"My number one tip: After taking your notes during lecture or reading, write a 'note sheet.' When I was in high school, I had a teacher who would occasionally let us bring one sheet of notes to use during tests. I found it was a great way to condense my (sometimes sprawling) notes into the most vital information and it's a much more effective, involved review for me than flash cards or highlighting. I typically do it for every chapter and sometimes for individual concepts. Now, I keep my note sheets together in one huge binder. That way, I don't have to dig through my messy old notebooks."



12. Color-code your notes and give extra attention to topics that get an extra shoutout.

"In college, I gave each topic got a different color pen. It was easier for me to remember things if they looked different in my notes. If a teacher went over the same information a few times I would underline or put a star by it because more than likely it was going to be on a test."


13. And go online for some layout inspiration.

"Get really into making it look nice! It helps a lot to look at inspiration from Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. to get ideas and make it more fun. Especially for those who really like art, it's a great way to put your skills to use academically."


15. Put sticky notes on the most important points.

"Use sticky notes! They're super cheap, removable, and you don't have to worry about them looking nice and ~aesthetic~. It's super nice for making lists, additional thoughts to other notes, questions, etc."



16. Read through your notes pretending you are the professor writing exam questions.


"Midway through college, I started taking the time after each lecture to turn my notes into the kinds of exam questions I thought they might become. If I already knew how the professor was going to structure an exam, I would stick with those kinds of questions, but if not, I would try to write a variety of question formats on the same information (so, multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, short answer, and even essay prompts). Doing this meant that I had a bank of questions (and don't forget answers!) to use as a way to study. I got so good at predicting how professors would assess their courses that on my last undergraduate exam ever for a history course, I had predicted nearly every question, which meant I was done in about a half an hour."


17. And put those expensive textbooks to use by taking notes in them.


"My favorite way was actually spending the money on textbooks and using them as notebooks as well. All of my old textbooks are covered in highlighter, pens, and sticky notes so all I needed to do was review the text with my annotations, questions and other sources and I would immediately be brought back to the discussion. It's been almost 10 years, but I still rely on my texts as resources because I added so much additional information into them."


Some responses have been lightly edited for length or clarity.

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