Save rewriting notes, and find more quickly what you have written.
- Write on ready-punched filepaper. (It can be moved more easily between files, and rearranged as needs arise). Notebooks are much less convenient.
- When making notes, write each major point on a different sheet. Then, when you are writing essays or reports, you can shuffle pages as necessary. Make sure each page is adequately headed so that you can put it back in the right file afterwards.
- Write your notes on a laptop, computer or an electronic note-maker if you have one of these.
Save time writing notes.
- Avoid writing notes in full sentence - use headings and keywords.
- Don’t rewrite notes in ‘neat’ (Arrrgh, i’m guilty of this!)
- Leave lots of space so you can add details later.
- Don’t write the same information twice, if two writers make the same point, note in the margin a cross-reference to your earlier notes.
Save time looking for your notes.
- Keep them all in one place.
- File them as you go along.
- Number your pages and label or colour-code them by subject in the top outer corner, so that you can arrange and find information easily.
- Note where the information came from, keep an (updated) guide to your files.
Save time reading.
- Read only what is relevant to this essay or assignment.
- If something looks interesting for the future but is not relevant now, fill out an index card or make an electronic record, noting what looked worth reading.
Save time in writing and looking up your references.
- In the margin of your notes, write the page reference from the book.
- For every book, article, etc that you read, complete an *index card.
- Alternatively, keep n updated file of your references on the computer - you will probably use some for more than one assignment. Some word-processing packages have a card-index facility.
Use word limits to focus your energies.
- You need to research less, read less, note less, and write less for a 1500 word essay than for a 3000 word essay. If you don’t spend less time preparing ad writing, you will take extra time later, reducing your notes and cutting text to meet the word limit.
- Map out your work to match the word limit. Eg, Into 100 words, Paragraph 1 200 words etc.
Save time thinking.
- Always carry a small book in which you can record ideas as they occur to you.
- Try brainstorming to get your mind working.
Save time organising information.
- Use numbers and highlighter pens to group information written on different pages, rather than writing it all out again.
- In the early stages of making pattern notes, use small post it labels so you can shuffle ideas around.
Save time writing.
Write assignments directly onto a computer.
Avoid duplicating effort.
Find a study partner to share research tasks and tactics and to bounce ideas off.
*An index card should include the following:
- Names and initials of author(s)
- Year of publication
- Location of publisher: Publisher
- Where to find a copy
- Brief summary of contents
The advantages of this approach include:
- You will know exactly where to look if you need to double-check some point.
- Writing the ‘references’ page is so much easier.
- If you use a computer, you can simply ‘cut and paste’ references when you reuse them.