Skimming is used to quickly identify the main ideas of a text. When you read the newspaper, you're probably not reading it word-by-word, instead you're scanning the text. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. Use skimming when you want to see if an article may be of interest in your research.
There are many strategies that can be used when skimming. Some people read the first and last paragraphs using headings, summarizes and other organizers as they move down the page or screen. You might read the title, subtitles, subheading, and illustrations. Consider reading the first sentence of each paragraph. This technique is useful when you're seeking specific information rather than reading for comprehension. Skimming works well to find dates, names, and places. It might be used to review graphs, tables, and charts.
Scanning is a technique you often use when looking up a word in the telephone book or dictionary. You search for key words or ideas. In most cases, you know what you're looking for, so you're concentrating on finding a particular answer. Scanning involves moving your eyes quickly down the page seeking specific words and phrases. Scanning is also used when you first find a resource to determine whether it will answer your questions. Once you've scanned the document, you might go back and skim it.
Notetaking is the practice of writing pieces of information, often in an informal or unstructured manner. One major specific type of notetaking is the practice of writing in shorthand, which can allow large amounts of information to be put on paper very quickly. Notes are frequently written in notebooks, though any available piece of paper can suffice in many circumstances—some people are especially fond of Post-It notes, for instance. Notetaking is an important skill for students, especially at the college level. Many different forms are used to structure information and make it easier to find later. Computers, particularly tablet PCs and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are beginning to see wide use as notetaking devices.
Professional Notetakers provide access to information for people who cannot take their own notes, in particular Deaf and hard of hearing people. Manual notetaking requires pen and paper and Electronic Notetaking (or Computer-Assisted Notetaking) requires laptops with special notetaking software. Professional Notetakers most frequently work in colleges and universities but also in workplace meetings, appointments, conferences, and training sessions. They are usually educated to degree level. In the
Taking notes in a linear or sequential fashion is probably the most common way of
laying out your notes. A wide left-hand margin is used so that you can add material
at a later date.
Taking notes in a patterned fashion, or creating mind maps, may look messy but it
helps you to think creatively. The pattern itself, including the use of images, colours,
symbols, arrows and capital letters, helps to convey meaning by showing the
relationship between concepts, and highlighting important points. Sometimes mind
maps are referred to as “brain patterns” as they are said to reflect how the brain
works, and can help it to handle more than one idea at once. They are also useful
for sorting out ideas after “brainstorming” sessions and in particular for planning
essays and exam revision.
A useful tool to help you with the brainstorming process, and the recording of ideas,
is a software package called Inspiration. This is available on the PCs in the Enabling Technology Rooms and group study rooms. Ask at the Information Desks for more details.
Column notes group information according to its type and then arrange it in columns.
The number of columns depends upon the type of information being dealt with and
what it is being used for.
In the simplest versions the main ideas or headings are listed in the left hand column
and details and explanations are listed in the right hand column. More complex
models use three columns, which allow you to record the main notes in the middle
column. You then try to keyword the main points of your notes in the left hand
column and record your comments, questions, opinions etc in the right hand column.
Notes can be set out in a tabular format with fixed headings, into which you insert
the relevant information. They should be kept as brief as possible without
When using the Cornell note-taking system a strip of white space is left to the left side of the notes that are written as they come up. Questions or key words based on the notes are written in the white space after the session has ended. The Cornell method requires no rewriting and yet results in systematic notes.
Charting means that one creates a table with rows and columns. This is a useful method for facts and relationships.
While notes can be written freely, many people structure their writing in an outline. A common system consists of headings that use Roman numerals, letters of the alphabet, and the common Arabic numeral system at different levels. A typical structure would be:
I. First main topic
II. Second main topic
However, this sort of structure has limitations since it is difficult to go back and insert more information. It is possible to simply leave large spaces in between, but another common alternative is a mind map. (See Category:Outliners for more about application software that supports outlining)
Here, ideas are written with lines connecting them together in a tree-like structure. Mind Maps are commonly drawn this way, but with a central point, many colors, little graphics and anything that helps to visualize the information easier. The Mind Map starts with a purpose or goal and then identifies all the ideas that contribute to the goal. It is also used for planning and writing essays.
Every new thought is written as a new line. Speed is the most desirable attribute of this method because not much thought about formatting is needed to form the layout and create enough space for more notes. Also, you must number each new thought.
SQ3R is a method for taking notes from written material, though it might be better classed as method of reading and gaining understanding. Material is skimmed to produce a list of headings, that are then converted into questions. These questions are then considered whilst the text is read to provide motivation for what is being covered. Notes are written under sections headed by the questions as each of the material's sections is read. One then makes a summary from memory, and reviews the notes.
Highlighting/Underlining is used to help students organize what they have read by selecting what is important. This strategy teaches students to highlight/underline ONLY the key words, phrases, vocabulary, and ideas that are central to understanding the reading.