Salisbury University students on campus

Note-taking Strategies

In college you will learn that you need to use all of your time both in and out of class wisely. While you are in class, you can make the most of your time by taking notes. A few reasons as to why taking notes are so important are:

  • Notes provide the best indication of what information is most likely going to be on the exam.
  • Taking notes helps the student be able to identify the main ideas of the lecture.
  • Taking notes help keep the students’ attention focused on the lecture which increases their retention and understanding of the material.
  • Notes provide a great study aid for review.

It may seem obvious, but without staying organized your class notes may not be very helpful to you.  You should keep all of your notes for each class together in one place, as well as date each class’s notes so that it is easier to refer back to.  To stay as organized as possible you need to think about what you need to do before, during and after class.

Do’s and Don’ts of Note-taking


  • Look over notes before class
  • Attend all lectures
  • Sit up straight and pay attention
  • Sit near the front so that you can see and hear clearly
  • Use a loose-leaf binder
  • Keep your notes neat and organized so you can understand them later
  • Record examples the instructor uses
  • Keep separate binders for each class
  • Include your own thoughts in your notes
  • Capture the lecturer’s ideas as well as facts



  • Sit near friends or other distractions
  • Write down only facts and definitions
  • Doodle on your notes too much
  • Consider any example the instructor gives you as too obvious
  • Use spiral bound notebooks
  • Just wait for something important, write as much as you can
  • Use too many abbreviations