Note Taking Tips - Research - NICC Library at Northeast Iowa Community College
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Note Taking

There are different types of notetaking that you can use:

  • Summarizing:
    • Get the main ideas from the source briefly restating them in your own words.
  • Paraphrasing:
    • Restating the author's ideas in your own words
  • Quoting:
    • Copying the quote exactly how it is written in the source material 

When taking notes on a computer, you may want to make a process that is easy for you to follow and organize so that you don't get overwhelmed or lose track of what you are including in your paper. If you'd like some tips, keep on reading:

  • As you write/research, make a separate document to add your sources.
    • To take it a step further, put them in the format you're wanting to use (APA, MLA, CMS, etc)
  • Group the sources by publication
    • books, journals, articles, etc
  • If there are websites, include the URL info and date when you accessed it
  • Number the groups/sources
    • Do this when you are making the first draft or your outline, when you use information from one of the sources put the number next to it so it is easier to cite later on.
  • DON'T FORGET TO SAVE AS YOU GO! The last thing you need is for all your hard work to disappear!

If you decide to go the classic way and write your notes by hand, check out these tips for organizational help:

  • Use index cards to help keep track of your notes and sources
  • Make Work Cited cards for each of your sources
    • Cite your source on your cards in the fashion you choose
      • ex. APA, MLA, CMS, etc
    • This will make it easier for you to alphabetize
  • Number the cards
    • Use one idea, fact, or quote from one source on each card, then put the number from the corresponding citation card to make it easier to cite later.
    • To further the organization, add a heading, keywords, or page number to help locate a specific portion for the source.
  • When taking notes, it is okay to shorthand write, but only if you know you'll understand what you wrote down at a later date.
  • Make sure you are only writing down the information that answers your research question.
    • the more unnecessary notes, the harder it'll be to write.
  • Don't forget that you can make symbols, charts, drawings, etc. to help visualize your ideas.