Prepare to Take Notes

Information Literacy Module VI: Preparing to Use Information Effectively

Now that you know what you’re looking for, develop a system of note-taking that will keep you and your researched evidence organized. Being organized now will save you from being agonized later when you have to go back and relocate all of your sources in order to cite and document them properly.

 If you plan to take notes by hand, decide whether you want to use note cards, a notebook, or loose leaf paper. If you feel more comfortable with a computer, decide whether you want to use a note-taking program like Zotero or develop your own system. Each option has its benefits and detriments.

Note cards are great for sorting, but they require some sort of color-coding or numbering system for keeping track of which notes come from which source.

Notebooks and loose leaf paper are great for keeping track of where your information comes from (particularly if you dedicate one page or one section of pages to each source), but they’re difficult to sort without bringing out the scissors.

Many students prefer taking notes electronically by using word-processing documents or a service like Zotero; both of these options are great for sorting and keeping track of where your information comes from, and they also save you the step of typing your hand-written notes into a more formal word-processed finished product.

If your outline or storyboard is saved as a word-processed file, you can even organize your notes according to where they’ll fit into your finished product as you take them. Just make sure the citation and documentation information follows each piece of information.

Guiding Your Research
How will you keep track of which notes come from which source? Decide on a system now, and stick to it!


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