Note taking for school

Hello everyone,

I have been a lurker for some time, and I finally took the plunge and created an account. The thought of having to remember another user name and password kept me at bay. Sounds silly I know, but they add up!

Okay...I am in grad school and frankly I am tired of carrying around a notebook...BUT...all handouts are in 8.5 x 11. I would like to use either 3x5 cards and develop a system or use the moleskine pocket notebooks to take notes. I get feelings of anxiety about going to this size because I am not sure how I would create a system how to remember where I put things - AKA cataloging the info. Now, I can over analyze things and really make it so complicated to myself that I abandon it altogether.
So, as you can read...I have put myself in a tizzy. Needless to say that I have spent the day trying to figure out what I like and not studying at all! I know I should try some things to see how it works for me..but I don't have that luxury since I will need to be able to get my fingers on whatever subject I need.

Help! Any other students out there that can relate and/or share what they have been doing and what works/doesn't work for them.

I have been to Pile of index cards and seen his set up. I also like the vertical system that Levenger has as well - but can't decide which one and I feel I have to commit totaly to one or the other!


Thank you!

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loose leaf notebooks


Somewhere in 2007 I wrote an article on this site (couldn't find it right now, but I know it's there) about how I did this. I did my MA and MSc with those methods and it worked. I had one notebook in A4 size with detachable pages. I would write in this all week at lectures and while reading and such. Then every once in a while I took the pages out and put them in a binder sorted by subject with tabs (it was a 15 cm thick binder). For each year or each term I would have a binder. In there I also put pages like handouts and schedules and such. I carried around the notebook and the articles and such I would need that day in a plastic folder.
Now I am doing my Phd while working as a consultant in the same field. I now have trouble with different notetaking and calendar needs for both, so my method has kind of fallen apart now. But then again, I don't have any lectures to go to from this year. So if your situation is more like this I don't have any good advice.


Is this it ?

Note Taking: University Style
The tough part in finding it is that Innowen posted it.

Ygor, Modest Master of the Search Engine
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Wish I'd known about mind-mapping

I learned years too late about doing more free-form notes in a mind-map style, which would have really helped out taking down notes in classes. Somewhere around my second year of college, I realized that my in-class notes were terrible to use for studying months later, so I got into the habit of blocking out time to re-write them on regular old filler paper afterwards. I'll haul up to the library and hide in a carrel in the stacks with a pair of headphones on and just recopy what I'd written, expanding it out into something legible and reviewable later. I wish I'd thought about making an index page: that would have been great. Just something that would have listed the major topics, and the date(s) when that topic appeared would have been enough.

You could easily do that by rewriting on 3x5 cards, even condensing the handouts into chunks on the 3x5s. Plus, it will really cement the info in your mind. I would invest in some kind of system for keeping the cards together and tidy, like book rings and a hole punch, or binder clips, as well as a big box to stow them in. Related notes could be grouped together into discrete stacks, and you could make a master summary card for the front of the stack so you can see what's covered in each group.

index cards

using index cards to "re-copy" your notes will not only help you learn what you wrote (through repitition), it will also be a great study aid when it comes to test time (flash cards). I also this be re-writing things, you may come up with questions about those notes that you can ask the professor during your next class!

Another great type of notetaking paper is Cornell. Lines for notetaking on the right side of the paper and a blank area on the left for adding notes or highlighting important info. There are template for this paper on this site.

Also, I agree with above how an index would be very beneficial. I wish I had done that in college! See the forum topic "The advantages of keeping an analog work journal" for futher info on how to use an index.

Best of luck in your studies!

Thank you

Thank you everyone. I have appreciated you taking the time to send me your thoughts and suggestions. The common suggestion I am getting is to take notes in class and then plan on rewriting them to solidfy the info. I have heard of this before. I also like the statement that nay nay said about possibly finding questions to ask the prof. in the next class.
Kind of like a "duh" moment, because at this point all I do is write notes and put them away until next class. And nothing is reviewed until the test...and then it is too late.
I would like to try the index cards and I liked the idea of making a refernce page by Friends of Pens. I also liked Paulien's idea of taking one notebook to class and then transferring that info - rewriting it.
So thank you Paulien, Ygor, Friend of Pens, and Nay Nay for your input. I am off to read the forum topin on "the advantages of keeping an analog work journal."

Thanks again everyone - and to those who add their comments after my post here.

Back in the day, I would

Back in the day, I would take notes in a spiral ring which was prepunch for a ring binder. My homework and handouts I keeped in a 3 ring binder. 1 Spiral and 1 binder per class. Once I completed the class, I would move the papers out of the 3-ring and into a Acco Pressboard Binder.

I stayed with the 81/2 x 11 due to the handouts. I wanted to keep all the papers the same size and together for each class.

I do the same thing at work. I keep two binders with numbered tabs (like the lawyers use) and have have a Word/Excel file (1 row per tab) that I use as an index. Any work I do and have reports, emails, data collect, notes, etc; I put in a tab in the binder. Then title it in the index. A quick look through the index and you find the info your looking for under the tab. At the end of the year, I pull all the paper out of the binder and bind it together with either a Acco Pressboard binder or just creat a cover from card stock and brass brad fasteners. It works well and I can always find stuff.

P.S. One binder is for random loose stuff and the second binder (several if your working on multiple projects) for each long term project.

Example: John send me test data. I'll place the test data and his email in one tab and index it. Hence I can find it again.

This sounds interesting.

This sounds interesting. How many tabs do you have in the binder? I'm guessing you would want one for each project you work on--maybe 50 or 100? Depending on the type of work you're doing.

I start low and keep adding

I depends on how many you need and the size of the binder. I start with the basic 1-25; but you can add sets of 26-50, 51-75, and 76-100. The bad thing is if you don't use the full set. At my company, they can print custom tabs, so I have them start with 1-10 and then keep requesting the next set of numbers. I believe lawyers call them Exhibit Dividers

As an engineer, I'm working at a Product Design and then several one-of task request by my supervisor. One binder, I'll tab each task assigned and then have a binder for each Product which will have several tabs of information. Some Product Development projects go on for three years. So I may have a few binders which I just label Volume 1, Volume 2, etc or 2001, 2002, etc.

I create my own index in Word or Excel and print a 81/2 x 11 size on a 11 X 17. I punch the margin on the far right while the index is on the far left. When you fold it in half, you can see the index when you open the binder and you can unfold the 11 x 17 and see the index as you flip through the tabs.

There are times when I get cheap and will use the left-over tabs, ie, if I use 1-43 and not 44-50; I'll start my next binder with 44-50 and then add 1-25 after them.

With the Index, I can use long subject titles that explain the contents and then look at the number tab.

Index Card system

Im a middle school student suffering from this messy paper mess. Im very techy so I useto use a palm. Most of my teachers were computer friendly so instead of giving me papers they gave me the documents through email. I was really happy with this until I moved to the US and had to switch back to paper. I was a complete mess because I was soooo use to using my palm. In my new school people were non techy when I asked the teachers for the papers in word form or any format they looked at me like I was some alien asking them for his soul. So I decided to get my act together. My dad told me about the levenger circa system. My father being a levenger buff but never trying the circa series bought me the starter kit. This made everything much much easier. So I tried it and loved it. I decided I would buy a Circa PDA. The circa PDA is probably levengers best product yet and with the Circa pda is *GOLD* So with the help of Circa I got all my junk organized, with the help of te good old circa puncher. PS: When you are studying for test dont type the study guide. Write it by hand it really really helps in memoriezing junk.

Proud owner of a Newton 2100 and Emate 300 (TY ygor)

my notes all come in 8.5 x

my notes all come in 8.5 x 11, or A4 size, as we call it here. and since i am a law student, there r books that r thicker than a phone directory. i used to type everything out in word, and then print it out to memorize. but it was a terrible mistake.

so this year, i summarize the points and write them on index cards, the simpler the better. the point is not to cope directly from textbooks / handouts, but to digest the material and then write down the keywords/ key points just so i can b reminded whenever i look at the cards.

i would want a circa too. except that i live in hong kong and they seem to overcharge international buyers in the shipping department.

so right now, i am using really cheap index cards, like less than $1 USD per 100.

Try ADOC Systems

They distribute to Asia

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

ADOC = Myndology

I think anyway. Same ring setup.


No. Two different companies

Myndology is a distributor for Atoma

ADOC is a separate company.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Allow me to clarify

Same tech with ADOC and Myndology. I believe both are Atoma tech. Could be wrong, but the smurfs sure look the same.