How to Take Notes from a Textbook

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Textbook readings

Hey guys! I’ve received so many questions about reading textbooks and taking notes on that, so I am going to share with you how I do it.

I like to write on the margins. Not highlight. I don’t use a special color coding technique to separate my comments from key terms from titles from definitions.

My system is very simple and makes sense to me. All I use are:

  • A pencil
  • An eraser
  • Small (not tiny) sticky notes

To start, I think it’s important to read actively. This means to think through the material, note things you don’t understand, complete little practice problems at the end of each section and connect new concepts with each other and the old ones.

The margins of my textbook are pretty thick – so thick I can fit a small 2 x 1.5 inch sticky note.

  • On the sticky note, I write definitions and very important concepts that go with the definition. This means that I have anywhere from 2 to 6 sticky notes per page.
  • I underline important explanations and quotes in pencil. Whatever I think is super important, I underline. I choose not to highlight in order to avoid stupid highlight-every-word-what-if-I-need-to-see-it-later kind of thing.
  • I write small comments in pencil on the margins, near the sticky notes. Usually these are longer explanations of the sticky notes, a little map of the concepts (how what I’ve just read connects to each other), and, most importantly, my own connects that I make while reading. This seems to help a lot, because if I look at this text in a few weeks, I’ll be able to remember my train of thought at the moment of reading.

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That’s it.

It sounds like a lot, but come test time, I will only use the margins and skim the text part of the book for any underlined parts.

I’ll let you guys know how that goes for me this quarter: I’m taking two Psych classes (4 chapters a week, 30 pages each…..) and a Math class.

Textbook Read Tips

I got some questions recently on reading a book/textbook and taking notes. Here is the part about textbook reading, I’ll come up with novel-type book reading soon!

The three main things you can do while reading a textbook are:

1) Stop highlighting and start writing things down- on margins or in a notebook. Because you’re thinking while writing, it will help you remember the information more.
2)Take concise notes, don’t include details. Key concepts and short descriptions only, no ramblings.
3) Look at the big picture. Summarize the chapters you’ve read, organize all information on paper. In the end you will know the key ideas and will just need to sort out the smaller details.

Happy reading!

Reading with Post-it Notes

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Hey everyone, I’ve received a few questions about using post-it notes for reading and taking notes, so here are a few pictures of how I do it:

(To make it less complicated, I used a children’s French cook book called “The Young French Chef.”)

1. On the tiniest, green little flags I wrote down the # and name of chapter.

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2. On the pink one (which I actually cropped a little), is the important part of the recipe I want to highlight. The top border of the paper underlines that part also.

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3. On the biggest, bright blue note, I summarized the chapter.

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So all together it looks like this (this is very minimalist, though)

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