All Posts

Published in General

The Art of Note-taking: Techniques, Benefits, and Best Practices

By Scholarly

8 min read

Share this post


Taking effective notes is a skill that can greatly enhance your learning and productivity. Whether you are a student, professional, or simply looking to improve your knowledge on a subject, note-taking plays a crucial role in retaining information and organizing your thoughts. In this article, we will explore the art of note-taking, including various techniques, benefits, and best practices.


Past State

Note-taking has a long history, dating back to ancient times. In the past, scholars would meticulously copy important texts by hand, creating handwritten notes for reference and study. This practice was prevalent in cultures such as Ancient Greece and Rome, where scholars would gather in libraries and lecture halls, jotting down key points to aid in their learning.

Current State

In today's digital age, note-taking has evolved significantly. With the advent of technology, we now have a wide range of tools and methods to capture and organize information. Digital note-taking platforms, such as Evernote and OneNote, have gained popularity due to their convenience and accessibility. These platforms allow users to create, edit, and sync notes across multiple devices, revolutionizing the way we take and manage our notes.

Future State

As technology continues to advance, the future of note-taking looks promising. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to play a significant role in improving the note-taking experience. AI-powered tools can analyze and summarize information, extract key insights, and even generate notes automatically. This integration of AI can make note-taking more efficient and effective, enabling users to focus on understanding and applying information rather than spending time on manual transcription.


  • Enhanced Learning: Note-taking helps improve retention and understanding of information. By actively engaging with the material and summarizing key points, you reinforce your learning process.

  • Better Organization: Notes provide a structured way to organize your thoughts and ideas. By categorizing and labeling information, you can easily retrieve and review it when needed.

  • Effective Revision: Well-crafted notes serve as valuable study aids. They condense complex topics into concise and manageable chunks, making revision more efficient and focused.

  • Greater Engagement: Taking notes promotes active listening and participation during lectures or discussions. It helps you stay attentive and absorb information more effectively.

  • Improved Problem-Solving: Note-taking allows you to identify patterns, connections, and relationships between different concepts. This holistic view enhances your problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities.


Note-taking is not just limited to academic settings; it extends to various aspects of life and work. The significance of note-taking lies in its ability to facilitate learning, information retention, and organization. By capturing and structuring ideas, you can effectively communicate and share knowledge with others. Additionally, notes serve as a valuable resource for future reference, enabling you to build on existing knowledge and skills.

Best Practices

  • Active Listening: Actively engage with the subject matter and pay attention to key points, examples, and explanations. Avoid passive listening, as it hinders note-taking effectiveness.

  • Organize and Structure: Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbering to create a clear structure for your notes. This enhances readability and makes it easier to review and revise.

  • Be Selective: Focus on capturing essential information rather than transcribing everything verbatim. Listen for main ideas, key concepts, and supporting evidence.

  • Visualize Information: Utilize visual aids such as diagrams, graphs, and flowcharts to represent complex ideas. Visual representations enhance comprehension and aid in memory retention.

  • Regular Review: Set aside dedicated time to review and consolidate your notes. Regular revision helps reinforce learning and ensures information stays fresh in your mind.

Pros and Cons


  • Increased Retention: Note-taking reinforces learning and helps retain information better.

  • Organization: Notes provide a structured format to organize thoughts and ideas.

  • Focus and Engagement: Taking notes promotes active listening and engagement during lectures or discussions.

  • Improved Comprehension: Summarizing and condensing information into notes enhances understanding.

  • Study Aid: Well-crafted notes serve as valuable study aids for revision and exam preparation.


  • Time-consuming: Taking detailed notes can be time-consuming, especially if done manually.

  • Distraction: Note-taking can sometimes divert your attention from the speaker or task at hand.

  • Dependency on Notes: Relying solely on notes may hinder the development of critical thinking skills and independent thought.

  • Incomplete or Inaccurate: There is a risk of missing important details or misinterpreting information while note-taking.

  • Note-Taking Styles: Different individuals have their own note-taking preferences, which may not suit everyone's learning style.


When it comes to note-taking tools and methods, there is a wide range of options available. Some popular tools include:

  • Evernote: A versatile digital note-taking platform that allows users to capture, organize, and search for notes across devices.

  • Microsoft OneNote: A digital notebook that enables users to create and share notes, incorporating text, images, and multimedia.

  • Google Keep: A simple and intuitive note-taking app for capturing and organizing ideas, with the added convenience of integration with other Google applications.

  • Notion: A comprehensive workspace that combines note-taking, project management, and task organization in a single platform.

  • Pen and Paper: The traditional method of note-taking, using a pen and paper, which offers a tactile and personalized experience.

Each of these tools has its own unique features and advantages, so it's important to choose one that aligns with your specific needs and preferences.


Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a popular note-taking technique that involves dividing your note paper into three sections:

  1. Cues: Create a narrow left-hand margin where you can write keywords, questions, or prompts that serve as cues for the main content.

  2. Notes: Take concise and organized notes in the larger right-hand section, focusing on capturing key points, summaries, and supporting details.

  3. Summary: After the lecture or reading, summarize the key points in the bottom section of the page. This summary serves as a quick review and helps reinforce learning.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual note-taking technique that allows you to organize information in a radial, hierarchical structure. Start with a central idea or topic and branch out to related concepts or subtopics. Connect the branches with lines or arrows that indicate relationships or connections between the ideas. Mind mapping is particularly useful for brainstorming, organizing complex ideas, and making connections between different concepts.

The SQ3R Method

The SQ3R Method is a systematic approach to reading and note-taking that stands for:

  1. Survey: Skim through the material to get an overview of the content, paying attention to headings, subheadings, and key terms.

  2. Question: Formulate questions based on the headings or key points. This prompts active reading and helps you identify the main ideas.

  3. Read: Read the material actively, looking for answers to the questions you formulated. Take notes on the key ideas and supporting details.

  4. Recite: Close the material and try to recall the main ideas and important details from memory. This step reinforces learning and helps identify areas that need further review.

  5. Review: Review your notes and the material to consolidate your learning. Summarize key points and create connections between different concepts.

AI Impact

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the field of note-taking. Here are some ways AI can impact note-taking:

AI Applications

AI-powered applications can automate various aspects of note-taking, such as transcribing lectures, extracting key insights, and generating summaries. These applications can save time and enhance the accuracy and quality of notes.

AI Techniques

Machine learning algorithms can analyze and classify notes, making it easier to search and retrieve specific information. AI techniques can also identify patterns and relationships between different notes, providing valuable insights.

AI Benefits

AI-powered note-taking tools can offer personalized recommendations, suggesting relevant resources or related content based on your notes. This can enhance your learning experience and provide additional context.

AI Challenges

While AI holds tremendous potential for note-taking, there are certain challenges to consider. Privacy and security of personal data, accuracy of AI-generated notes, and the need for human input and verification are some of the key challenges that need to be addressed.

AI Online Apps

  • Scholarly: Scholarly is an AI-powered note-taking platform that offers text completion, flashcard creation, and studying features. It utilizes AI to enhance the note-taking experience and maximize productivity.

  • RemNote: RemNote is an AI-powered note-taking and spaced repetition system that helps organize and retain information effectively. It offers features such as flashcards, document linking, and smart date recognition.

  • Roam Research: Roam Research is a note-taking tool that focuses on connected thinking and knowledge management. It allows users to create a network of interconnected notes to facilitate knowledge discovery.

  • Notion: Notion is a popular all-in-one workspace that includes note-taking, project management, and collaboration features. It offers a wide range of customization options to tailor your note-taking experience.

  • Anki: Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard program that helps in memorizing information efficiently. It uses AI algorithms to optimize the timing and repetition of flashcards for maximum retention.


Note-taking is a valuable skill that can significantly enhance your learning, comprehension, and organization. By employing effective techniques, such as the Cornell Method or mind mapping, and following best practices like active listening and regular review, you can make the most out of your note-taking experience. Furthermore, the integration of AI in note-taking tools and applications has the potential to streamline the process, automate certain tasks, and provide personalized recommendations. Embrace the art of note-taking and unlock your full learning potential!


Try Scholarly

It's completely free, simple to use, and easy to get started.

Join thousands of students and educators today.

Are you a school or organization? Contact us