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Tips on Writing Notes for Yourself

On the other hand, as you sit there and listen to a lecture, speed and accuracy are important. Although you may sometimes feel like doing it, you normally don't tell the speaker to stop or slow down. In this situation, you are basically communicating with yourself. Therefore, you have the luxury of being as sloppy as you wish. You're the only one who has to read or understand the information.

Invent your own shorthand. Abbreviate words and phrases to conserve time as you take notes. For example, if you are listening to a lecture on Social Security, write Social Security as "SS." If you want to write "organizational objectives," you could certainly reduce these words to, "Org. Obj." You will understand this, and it doesn't usually matter if anyone else can read your "shorthand."

How you take notes may be influenced by the purpose being served through your note taking. If you're being entertained by a comedian, you may take a few scattered notes to help you remember a joke or funny line. If you're preparing for your final exam in economics, you may write pages and pages of very detailed notes.

In either situation, note taking requires that you take notes on the right stuff. This takes us back to Chapter 4, where you had some practice identifying topic sentences and definitions. Note taking requires that you be able to extract what is important and relevant and -- just as important -- ignore the irrelevant. This is particularly true if your ultimate goal is to pass a test or prove a point to someone.