Taking notes on what you read is an incredibly useful habit. Here’s a proven system for taking notes on books. It is a four-step process: read, note, write, and synthesize.
First of all, you should choose the most appropriate way of reading for you, which will ensure a good understanding and comprehension of what you have read. At this stage, it is important to activate as much attention as you are capable of. To do this, you should decide on the following:
- Time of day. Some people perceive information better in the morning, others in the afternoon, others in the evening. Make sure you have enough free time. For that, use essay writing service, which can help you with your school tasks.
- Comfortable position. The most appropriate position for reading can be lying down, sitting, and, in some cases, even standing. For example, sitting in a chair can be too relaxing, you will start to “hover in the clouds,” and then it will be useful to walk around the room with a book in your hands. Sometimes you can sit on the floor, just to change your pose.
As you begin your introduction to a book, it’s a good idea to have a pencil or pen handy. They are needed to put asterisks (or other marks) in the margins of the book after certain passages in the course of reading:
- put asterisks (or other marks) in the margins of the book after certain passages that you should pay special attention to in the future when taking notes;
- underline key sentences, phrases, theses to quickly find the essence of what you have written.
If you don’t want to write on the pages of a paper edition, you can buy an e-book. In any book reader app, there is a function for taking notes. In addition, it would be appropriate to use bookmark stickers, which allow you to make notes without harming the paper edition. Moreover, they tend to be different colors: you can assign each shade its function. For example, green for citations, blue for points of interest, red for key phrases, etc.
There is a whole system of marks in the text, which:
- makes it possible to set priorities, to highlight important places;
- allows you to express your personal feelings about what you have read – agreement, surprise, indignation, and other feelings;
- makes it easier to study important passages of text repeatedly;
- increases the speed of finding the necessary fragment.
Working with a book in this way, it is enough to flip through it, studying the notes, and the content will be restored to memory. Here are some common symbols that may be useful to you:
- A checkmark (V) indicates that there is already known information in the location.
- A plus (+) marks new knowledge.
- A minus (-) indicates that what is being described goes against current knowledge.
- A question (?) indicates an incomprehensible statement that requires further study, or a passage with which you disagree.
- An asterisk (*) is used as a standard way of highlighting things to look at in the future.
- Example (note or pr.) – this lettering means that there is an example in the book at this point to support some thought you want to remember.
- Future reading (letter “B”) is used for places where, for example, another author, book, or article is mentioned that inspired the writer to write the text you are reading.
- The exclamation point (!) is used to highlight a particularly important place, a prominent thought, quote, or idea.
Marking promotes careful thought, better comprehension, and memorization.
After you finish reading a chapter and have made your notes, you should reread the text and, based on the notes in the margins, write a brief description of what you have read. The main idea of this stage is that you write down what you highlighted, scrolling in your head the content of the text again, respectively, remembering it better. In addition, it will allow you in the future to remember what the chapter is about in just the couple of minutes it takes to read a note about it.
At this stage, it is necessary to find a way to connect the new data that you have read, studied, and written down with the available information known for a long time. Or on the contrary, to work with the new material, to check what you have read, to challenge it, to prove the wrongness of the author. Here you should also describe your thoughts, reflections, make conclusions about the quality, relevance, usefulness of what you have written.
The above system is a kind of embodiment of Bruce Lee’s quote, which goes as follows:
Apply that which is useful, reject that which is useless, and add that which is native.