Organizing Your Notes

There are three typical ways to organize your notes:

1. Note cards
2. Stenographer's pad
3. Loose leaf pages (files or binders)

Note Cards

The traditional approach taught in high school is to take your research notes on note cards. You limit each card to one narrow subject. When you are done you can re-organize the notes to follow the outline of the paper your are writing. Note cards can be filed by subject in a similar manner. The down side to note cards is that they are small, non-standard size, and difficult to find a good place to store them as they accumulate.

Stenographer's Pad

An approach used by media reporters and some researchers is to take all notes in a stenographer's pad. A short index of the contents can be written on the outside of the pad. The advantage of pads is that your notes are permanently stored and can be placed on the shelf with books. The disadvantage of pads is that they are not easily organized or changed.

Loose Leaf Pages

Many people take notes on loose leaf pages. They have the advantage that they can be re-organized like note cards. They can also be organized and stored in either binders or file folders. The disadvantage is that they usually contain more than one subject per page--not as easily re-assembled in an outline order like note cards. Another disadvantage is that they are easily lost or gotten out of sequence.

As in so many areas of research and note taking, you will have to choose the method that works the best for you. Or, make up your OWN method. Trial and error is usually the approach used to determine what works best.


Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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