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The Ultimate Guide to Note Taking and Note Making: Boost Your Learning Skills

By Scholarly

10 min read

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Note taking and note making are essential skills for students, professionals, and anyone seeking to enhance their learning capabilities. Whether you're attending lectures, conducting research, or preparing for exams, taking effective notes and transforming them into meaningful study materials can greatly improve retention, understanding, and productivity. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the art of note taking and note making, covering their history, benefits, best practices, and techniques. Additionally, we'll explore the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on note taking and recommend some online apps that can revolutionize your study routine.


Past State

In the past, the act of note taking was primarily done using pen and paper. Students would listen attentively to lectures or read textbooks and record important information in a structured manner. Notebooks, index cards, and highlighters were popular tools used for note organization and review.

Current State

With the technological advancements of recent years, note taking has evolved. Traditional methods are still prevalent, but digital tools now offer more flexibility and convenience. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones have become popular devices for note taking, enabling quick typing, multimedia integration, and efficient organization with digital note-taking apps.

Future State

Looking to the future, AI is expected to play a significant role in note taking and note making. AI-powered tools can assist in automatic transcriptions, intelligent organization, and even synthesis of notes from various sources. With the integration of natural language processing and machine learning, AI can offer personalized suggestions and summaries, revolutionizing the way we create and utilize notes.


  • Enhanced Retention: Effective note taking and note making techniques promote active engagement, leading to better memory retention.
  • Improved Understanding: Summarizing and synthesizing information in your own words helps solidify understanding and connect key concepts.
  • Efficient Review: Well-structured notes facilitate quick review, allowing for effective exam preparation and information recall.
  • Increased Focus: Engaging in the process of note taking helps maintain attention and prevent distractions.
  • Boosted Productivity: Organized notes enable efficient information retrieval, saving time when studying or working on assignments.


The significance of note taking and note making lies in their transformative impact on the learning process. By actively engaging with information and organizing it in a structured manner, learners can better process and comprehend complex concepts. Additionally, notes serve as valuable study resources, aiding in exam preparation and long-term knowledge retention. The act of note making also encourages critical thinking, as it requires synthesizing and summarizing information in a concise and meaningful way.

Best Practices

  1. Be Selective: Focus on capturing the main points, key ideas, and relevant examples rather than transcribing everything.
  2. Use Structured Format: Organize your notes with headings, subheadings, bullet points, and indentations for clarity and easy navigation.
  3. Active Listening: Actively listen and engage during lectures or while reading, highlighting and underlining key information as it is presented.
  4. Annotate: Add your own thoughts, questions, and connections to the material in the margins or within the notes to personalize the understanding.
  5. Review & Revise: Regularly review and revise your notes to reinforce concepts and identify areas of weakness.

Pros and Cons


  • Enables active learning and engagement
  • Enhances understanding and retention
  • Promotes organization and efficiency
  • Facilitates exam preparation
  • Cultivates critical thinking skills


  • Requires time and effort
  • May be challenging for fast-paced lectures
  • Can be subjective to individual interpretation
  • Digital distractions and technology dependence
  • Incomplete or unclear notes may hinder understanding


When it comes to note taking, there is a wide range of tools and apps available. Here are a few popular options:

  1. Evernote: A versatile note-taking app that allows you to create text, audio, and image-based notes, sync across devices, and organize your notes with tags and notebooks.
  2. OneNote: Microsoft's comprehensive note-taking app that provides a flexible canvas for creating and organizing notes, with features like multimedia integration, cloud syncing, and collaborative editing.
  3. Notion: A powerful all-in-one workspace that offers note-taking, task management, and database capabilities, allowing you to create highly customizable and interconnected notes.

These tools offer different features and interfaces, so it's important to explore and find the one that aligns with your personal preferences and study needs.


Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a widely-used note-taking system that involves dividing your note page into three sections: a small column on the left for key ideas and cues, a larger area on the right for main notes, and a bottom section for summaries and review. This method promotes active listening, organization, and efficient review.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual note-taking technique that utilizes diagrams to represent key concepts and their relationships. Start with a central idea or topic and branch out with subtopics and supporting details. Mind maps capture the hierarchical nature of information, facilitating comprehension, and aiding memory recall.

Outline Method

The outline method organizes notes in a structured hierarchical format, with main points at the highest level and subpoints indented below. This method provides a clear structure, allowing for easy organization, review, and identification of key ideas.

Visual Notes

Visual note taking, also known as sketchnoting, combines drawings, symbols, and text to capture and represent information. This creative approach engages both hemispheres of the brain, enhancing understanding and making notes more visually memorable.

The SQ3R Method

The SQ3R method is a systematic approach to reading and note taking. It stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Before reading, quickly survey the material, formulate questions, read actively while seeking answers, recite the information in your own words, and review the notes regularly.

AI Impact

Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize note taking and note making. Here are some areas where AI can make a significant impact:

AI Applications

  • Automatic transcription and text-to-speech capabilities can make note-taking more accessible and efficient for individuals with hearing or visual impairments.
  • AI-powered tools can analyze patterns in notes and provide personalized recommendations for effective study techniques.

AI Techniques

  • Natural language processing can enable AI to understand and summarize texts, allowing for the automatic generation of concise and coherent notes.
  • Machine learning algorithms can assist in identifying important concepts and relationships within notes, aiding in organization and retrieval.

AI Benefits

  • Time-saving: AI can automate the process of note creation, organization, and review, freeing up time for deeper learning and understanding.
  • Personalization: AI can provide individualized recommendations and feedback based on an individual's learning style and preferences.

AI Challenges

  • Accuracy: AI algorithms may face challenges in accurately understanding and summarizing complex and nuanced information.
  • Trust and Dependency: Students must develop critical thinking skills to verify and validate the AI-generated notes instead of blindly relying on them.

Potential Online Apps that relate to Note Taking

  1. Scholarly: Scholarly is an AI-powered note-taking platform that combines text, images, and flashcards for efficient learning. It offers features like AI-generated text completion, flashcard creation, and transcribing pictures and PDFs to text.
  2. Anki: Anki is a popular spaced repetition-based flashcard app that helps in note making and review by optimizing memory retention through intelligent scheduling.
  3. Notability: Notability is a feature-rich note-taking app that allows for handwritten and typed notes, PDF annotation, audio recording, and seamless synchronization across devices.
  4. GoodNotes: GoodNotes is a digital note-taking app designed specifically for handwriting, allowing users to write naturally with a stylus and annotate PDF files.
  5. Google Keep: Google Keep is a simple and lightweight note-taking app with features like color-coded notes, voice recording, and collaborative editing.

These apps offer various features and cater to different learning styles and preferences. Explore and experiment with different options to find the one that suits your needs.


In conclusion, note taking and note making are powerful tools that can enhance your learning experience. By following best practices, leveraging proven techniques, and embracing the potential of AI-powered tools, you can transform your note-taking process into a dynamic and effective learning tool. Whether you prefer traditional pen and paper or digital solutions, the key lies in actively engaging with the material, organizing your notes, and regularly reviewing and revising them. Remember, effective note taking is not just about capturing information, but also about synthesizing and personalizing it to suit your learning style and goals. So grab your notebook or launch your favorite note-taking app and embark on your journey to mastering the art of note taking and note making. Happy learning!


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