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Taking Notes with Graphical Outlines

by Ron Kurtus (21 June 2010)

Most students take notes in a lineal fashion, writing down key words or phrases given during the teacher's lecture. Later, they may reorganize the notes in some sort of an outline, grouping together main ideas.

A different way of taking notes is by using a graphical outline that allows you to place ideas anywhere and then connect them immediately or even later. This method may not work for everyone or in every class. However, it might be worth a try for those wanting a different approach to note-taking.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Standard notes

Mote students use a standard method of taking notes in class. An example of standard notes taken from a lecture on the U.S. Civil War is:

U.S. Civil War was between the North and South.

War lasted between 1861 and 1865.

Purpose was to free the slaves.

Robert E. Lee led the southern army.

A major battle was at Gettysburg.

Afterwards, Lincoln made his famous Gettysburg Address.

The war ended when Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant.

Too linear for some

Some students may find such notes too linear, such that they don't show the true relationships between items. There are also students who are more artistic and think in terms of 2-dimensional pictures instead of 1-dimensional phrases.

These students may find taking notes with a graphical outline a better way to put down the information.

It also helps to organize the information for later use or elaboration.

Graphical outline

A graphical outline—sometimes called a mind-map—allows you to place the various items or concepts anywhere on the page. They are usually circled with a "balloon" or such, although some students might draw a figure of some sort. You can connect related items with lines between the balloons, either during the lecture or afterwards. Comments can also be added to the connecting lines.

An example of notes in a graphical outline is:

Sample of a graphical outline from a class lecture

Sample of a graphical outline from a class lecture

Note that the main topic is highlighted and placed in the middle. "Get copy" in the squiggly balloon is a note for the student to get a copy of the address.

Summary

Most students take notes writing down key words or phrases given during the teacher's lecture one after another. Later, they may reorganize the notes in some sort of an outline.

A different method is by using a graphical outline. This may not work for everyone or in every class, but it might be worth a try for those wanting a different approach to note-taking.


Be creative in your learning process


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Good Grades Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Study Skills

Top-rated books on Taking Tests in School

Top-rated books on Getting Good Grades


Questions and comments

If you have questions, comments, or opinions on this subject, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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