Note Taking Defined: How To Describe It Exactly

Note taking has been an integral part of human development throughout history. Greece developed the hypomnema - personal records - on important topics. Early modern students took notes in schools, academies and universities, producing beautiful volumes used for reference after they completed their studies. 

What is note taking in general? 

Note taking is a crucial part of the learning process. It helps students learn, retain, and recall information. Taking notes makes you think differently about the subject; it requires you to look at things in a different way. It also helps you focus during a lecture because you're actively listening and participating in class. And not only students can benefit from taking good notes, almost every category of people working with written text should find the best way to take notes.

Taking notes allows you to review interesting points from what you are researching, reading or listening to. Writing notes in your own words, also called note making, makes everything clearer for the notetaker when going back to the material. This is a much better approach than relying on your own memory. And that's because verbatim note-taking can actually hurt conceptual thinking as it takes away the time needed to explain concepts through examples and diagrams instead of just writing down facts without any context.

There are various techniques that can be used, for example the Cornell method, Outline method, mind mapping, and visual methods.

Famous person note taking quotes

Note taking is such a personal task and everyone defines it differently. Here is how some professionals and famous people take notes and define it. 

Isaac Newton: “If I have done great things it's because I was standing in the closet of smart men taking notes and then publishing their ideas as my own.”.

John Irving: “Sometimes that's a year, sometimes it's 18 months, where all I'm doing is taking notes. I'm reconstructing the story from the back to the front so that I know where the front is”.

In a way, Irving is doing a type of reflective journaling with his notes.

Actress Megan Fox has a visual way of taking notes: "I started drawing when I was about 2, mostly pictures of my mother and my sister. When I got into school, instead of taking the notes that I should have been taking, I was drawing in all of my notebooks. It was an artwork thing for me at first."

Visualization makes it easier to get an overview of your notes, and it can make more sense that way.

Author Gretchen Rubin: "I'm a compulsive note-taker, and I used to feel self-conscious about pulling out my little notebook and taking notes during a casual conversation. Then I noticed that people really seemed to enjoy it; the fact that I was taking notes made their remarks seem particularly insightful or valuable. Now I don't hold myself back."

Author Teju Cole: "Note-taking is important to me: a week's worth of reading notes (or "thoughts I had in the shower" notes) is cumulatively more interesting than anything I might be able to come up with on a single given day."

Author and entrepreneur Tom Wujec: "Why take notes? The obvious reason is to remember. Visual note-taking translates what we hear into pictures that give context, color, and meaning. By adding symbols, visual metaphors, likenesses of people, and room layouts, we add several dimensions."

Tom Wujec uses visual notes to enhance his notetaking, and it's scientifically proven we remember images better than text.

Author Gloria Steinem: "Every trip, my pockets full of scribbled notes about new events. Altogether I might never have had the will or the way to do any of the things that matter most to me, had it not been for just being Out There. Taking to the road - by which I mean letting the road take you - changed who I thought I was. The road is messy!"

Having periods of time when scribbling down notes, on receipts, post-its and whatever paper you can get your hands on, is something a creative mind does to remember certain things.

Finally reporter Richard Morin: "Reading without taking notes, or highlighting your book will allow you to forget too soon. Lessons are so when they leave no mark."

Highlighting and taking notes while reading, is a known technique to remember, learn and expand your knowledge over time.

Note taking definition

Note taking is, essentially, the practice of recording information captured from another source. This note taking definition at its core should not just be the action of writing something down, but rather the act of recording information that you will remember and will help you in your future.

The reason we go deeper into this definition of note taking is because it’s such a broad term and no one talks about how to define it properly. In fact, note taking has many different forms, depending on who you ask.

Scrintal combines notetaking with mind mapping to appeal to as many note takers as possible. In the meanwhile if you’d like to try Scrintal and also give us feedback and be a part of our small community, get in touch!

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