Itching to do something productive, but don’t know what? Try preparing yourself for an upcoming semester or course by setting up the perfect note-taking documents in advance.
We’re here to help you by providing our top tips for note taking this upcoming semester! Here you go:
How long have you spent in the past reorganising your notes to make them easier to read? Changing the font, the headings, the highlighting scheme… after a while, it just becomes another form of procrastination. Start the new semester right by taking the time now to decide how you’re going to structure your notes. Use the course information pages available to you to split each upcoming subject into topics, and build a template document around those topics with a pre-decided font, style and structure. That way, when you do begin to write content into that document, there’s nothing in your way. You’ll also avoid having to reformat huge chunks of work later in the semester because you’ve decided that your notes are too messy to use. For those who are feeling extra productive, try creating your own custom Microsoft Word template to use for all your notes this year!
Sometimes, the best way to get an idea across is by drawing it – especially in diagram heavy subjects like sciences. One way around this is to take notes by hand in an exercise book, but that can be a trade-off that causes messiness – there’s no delete button for mistakes and your handwriting might not be so great. What we recommend is that you develop a system that enables you to combine the neatness and precision of typed notes with the flexibility of pen and paper. If you’re using a tablet this semester, then it’s easy to use features built into Microsoft’s OneNote to integrate sketches and equations into the notes you’re taking. If you’re making your notes on a regular computer or laptop, then try taking photos of drawings using your phone, or even scanning them. As a last resort, textbooks or Google images will have alternate versions of the diagrams you’re after, but it’s hugely beneficial to be able to draw your own.
Now initially, this one sounds insane. But it’s a proven system that works well – by taking pen and paper notes in class, and then transcribing them to your computer at regular intervals, you gain a huge number of advantages. In class, you won’t have to worry at all about neatness as you scribble down everything you think is relevant. You can draw, cross-out and annotate to your heart’s content. Then, on the weekends or during study time, study by taking half an hour to copy across your hastily scribbled notes into a neat scaffold for use before exams – your ‘proper notes’. It’s an excellent study method that leaves you with a set of notes that not only cover all the content but are immaculately organized.
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