Note Taking and Highlighting
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Note Taking and Highlighting

A guide for students on the purpose of note taking and highlighting and how to do this.

When studying, note taking and highlighting are an essential part of your learning.  Here is a look at the purpose of this activity and how to undertake note taking or highlighting.

Why Take Notes or Highlight?

As a student, much of the information that you will be required to learn comes in the form of written texts.  Often, lots of information is contained in extensive texts.  Very few people have the ability to retain such a lot of information purely through reading.  Highlighting or note taking help you to draw out the key points of the information.  This serves several purposes.  

Firstly, it requires you to identify exactly what the key points and most relevant pieces of information are.  Secondly, as you will have to read the text once fully and then go back to highlight or take notes, you will be accessing the information twice.  This will help to retain the information.  The third benefit of highlighting or note taking is that it will help you to write an assignment as you have the main points in front of you in a more accessible and easy to understand fashion than trying to retrieve it from a large amount of text.  It is also likely that the points will be in a good order that will help you to plan the structure of your essay.  Finally, using this technique will help you to revise for tests and examinations.  It is much easier to revise using notes than trying to retain the information from a large text.


There are usually two methods to highlighting key points in information.  The first is to use a highlighter pen and the second is to underline using a ball point pen.  It is important that you only use these methods if the book or texts belong to you or that you have permission to write on them.  Do not use this method if the book belongs to somebody else.  

It can be tempting to highlight whole chunks of information.  However, this is not effective.  It is important to only highlight short sentences, words or dates or it defeats the object of the highlighting process.

Note Taking

There are many different techniques to use when note taking that range from creating mind maps to writing down bullet points.  Choose the method that works best for you.  Avoid the temptation to directly copy whole pieces of information.  Instead, simply write down the main points, dates of events, names of relevant people and so on.

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Comments (8)

excellent info!

great tips. Voted up.

I tend to over highlight causes me to lose my attention of the overall article. Excellent tips you have shared!

Liked - shared - good job

I agree with all your points...

Nice share...displaying some great tips. Good job here...voted

Very insightful. Thanks for sharing.

Students must keep in mind that developing good note-taking skills will also help them after they graduate. Hiring managers and bosses look for employees who understand instructions the first time they are given. We posted a guide that discusses why it's important to take notes and how to do so effectively. I hope it's useful. - Erich