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Note Taking: Home

Guided Notes

What are Guided Notes?
Guided Notes are teacher-prepared hand-outs that outline or map lectures, but leave "blank" space for key concepts, facts, definitions, etc.  As the lecture progresses, you then fill in the spaces with content.

Guided notes help you follow a lecture, identify its important points,
and develop a foundation of content to study and to apply.

If you have difficulty taking notes, ask your instructor if he or she can prepare guided notes to help you improve your note taking.

Here are several strategies in completing and using Guided Notes:


  • Cues:
    Can your instructor add visual cues (highlighting, bullets, "fingers", circles, numbered sequences, images, etc.) that identify the type or quantity of information to complete?
    For example: main and secondary ideas, examples, sequences
  • Visuals:
    Can visual information (charts, graphs, pictures, illustrations, concept maps, etc.) be included for completion
  • References:
    Can these be included for comparison and study?

Before the lecture:

  • Questions/discussion
    Is there opportunity to discuss the guided notes, either during or after the lecture?
  • Model/checklist:
    Is there a model or checklist to follow?
    (How much do I write? Have I completed all the blanks? Where can I find missing items?)
  • Versions:
    Are there simpler or progressively more complex versions of the guided notes? Can I begin with the simpler (less writing) and work up to more difficult versions that require more information?

After the lecture:

  • Class review: 
    Ask if the class can review the guided notes for comparison and/or feedback?
  • Media type, format, presentation:
    Ask if completed guided notes can be displayed via computer or overhead transparency for demonstration, discussion, or developing examples and relationships?

After the class period:

  • Instructor review:
    Review your guided notes with the instructor to see how you did
  • Models:
    Ask your instructor for a completed copy and compare your notes with the model
  • Peer review: 
    Exchange your notes with a friend to compare and identify important content
  • Examples:
    Develop examples from your notes to see if you understand


  • Tests/exams:
    Ask if questions will be drawn from completed guided notes information?
  • Student-developed guided notes
    Can these be used for an evaluation? as a class project?

How to Take Notes

Note Taking Tips

1. Develop your shorthand. Eliminate vowels and use symbols.

2. Use tape recordings only to check or clarify notes, not to listen to the whole lecture again.

3. Note whether your instructor repeats material in different ways or gives different examples concerning the same topic.

4. Record clues given by your instructor. The tone of voice, the use of expressions, and various gestures are important.

5. Be alert for indicator words or phrases:

"There are three important...."

"The beauty of this is..."

Listening Tips


Sit in front

Lean forward

Ask questions

Nod and smile

Track the teacher

Listening Tips

1. Attend all classes

2. Hearing is not listening. Listening is a cognitive activity that processes and interprets information.

3. Focus on meaning, not individual facts

     Make connections between individual facts and the topic of lecture.

4. Listen to opening remarks

     Teachers often use opening remarks to make connections with a previous class or the purpose of the day's lecture.