How to take notes from various sources?

Hey guys,

I never learned how to take notes, from anywhere. Thankfully I stumbled upon this channel, and it’s been a great help. Jessica seems to have videos on studying, lecture note-taking, and exam prep. My issue is, I never learned how to properly read or take notes from a textbook, especially a STEM textbook (Physics to be exact). My year just started and I’m about to be a week behind, but I have no idea what method to use for taking notes on a textbook. Any brains got any good methods? I’ve looked around but all i can find is methods on taking notes from either lectures or literature books. Any help would be appreciated!



While not sure what to suggest I do want to welcome you to our forum! I’m sure other folks will have some ideas for you. Best of luck!


I too never learned to take notes while in school and wish I had. I winged my way all the way through but didn’t do as well as I could have.

Cribbed from :

A good note-taking system is:

  • Simple
  • Well thought out
  • Helps you to stay focused on what really counts: Reading, Thinking and Writing.

It should not only make it easy to find notes quickly, it should also point out relevant notes when you need them - even if you did not search for them.

It should help you to clarify your thoughts, let you experiment with ideas and spark new ones.

A good system gets exponentially better the more you feed it.

[I have the book mentioned there but don’t bother buying it.] You can google for “how to take good notes on science textbooks” or some such and view some videos or read some insturctions until you find something that fits your style and is easy to follow. I don’t think it is rocket science, The key is to pick a good enouugh method and stick to it rather than keep switching.

You can use software to take notes or stick to paper. Software tools make searching easy + you can keep links to various webpages etc. etc. but drawing diagrams will be hard. Also, you are then dependent on the software. Paper notebooks force you to write, which I think is better for remembering (comparing to typing) + allow you to draw anything you want + they don’t depend on software or cloud storage or anything like that. But reorganizing and searching will be harder. I do use iPad +apple pencil to take notes. With the next version of iPad handwriting is more integral (you can search etc.) so that is another option. On the other hand, this only matters if you want to save your notes for a long time and build upon them to build your own long term “knowledge base”.

[Edit: ignore that last paragraph – just use a paper notebook!]

Good luck and wlecome to the community!


A few things here.
First, Welcome :raising_hand_man:
Next, regarding note taking:
Verbal information -

  • Try and jot down key points where they say, “this is important” or “this will be on the exam”.
  • attempt to develop a short hand, personalized to you and how you think, where you write down key words or phrases that are of importance.
  • also when the information is being presented, try and write down any questions you think of, regarding the content. And answers to them if they are later answered.

Text books.

  • Are already rather organized collaborations of information, generally one doesn’t actually go through them, seeking to ‘take notes’ per-se. Rather they are more likely to be used as one would a dictionary, as a matter of reference to finding solutions to problems, sequences of information, or literal diagrams and formulas.

  • my point here is, that your starting point shouldn’t be,
    ‘what notes do I need to take’,
    but instead, think, what am I being assessed or tested on,
    ‘what answers and information do I need?’
    From there, you can be as summarised or in depth as you need for your assessment.

  • Even have a section in your book or a file on your device for each assessment, you can copy answers across if you need them more than once. And organise the information as you see fit.

The underlying and key theme, is bringing together and organising the information and placing it in the right area or assessment.
As you develop your ability to study and organise your notes, you can get more complex and set up more effective systems.

I feel it’s important though to start off with a few simple pointers and develop it from there, unless you have the time and energy to pour into really setting up and sticking to an organised and efficient method. (I never have :sweat_smile:)

Either way, good luck my friend ~
And let me know if you have any further questions or need anything further elaborated. :+1:


Hey welcome aboard,

I particularly had a lot of trouble with memorizing stuff, so most of my notes were pointing out of were things I needed to memorize were so I didn’t loose time searching for it (googling it wasn’t a thing yet), or some condensed version of it (if I managed to condense the information in a way that made sense to me).

I have a very logical and analytical mind so sciences and math was way easier for me to understand and comprehend and I found early that understanding thing really made it easier to me so I had less things to memorize so I kind of “cheated” my brain over trying to understand the topic instead of trying to memorize everything.

Also whatever system you use, always try to fit it and tailor it to your needs and how you think not the other way around, it can take some time to find and figure out what it works for you and what wont, but eventually you will get something that makes senses and you can understand and work with.

I’m not sure what topic it is,but try to figure out the central point of the thing you are trying to take notes (it can be hard to figure it out sometimes), and get a very base version of that that you can understand (or link to more detailed explanation of it if you need to) then expand from that to put other things that you think might me relevant or that your teacher said you should pay attention too, a simple example of the thing (if it’s appropriate) can help your brain remember better what is about, some people get good with making analogies with the topics so they manage to simplify it somehow, also some people have a better time drawing things instead of writing things can be helpful, it can be a bit of a trial and error in the begging but eventually you get something that works for you.