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Note Taking: Note Taking Abbreviations

Using Abbreviations in Your Note-Taking

This handout lists a number of common abbreviations that may be helpful when note-taking, especially from lectures. It also explains two common abbreviating techniques that can be applied to almost any word.

You should remember, however, that you can and should also invent and use your own abbreviations, especially for words or phrases that occur frequently in your subject area. The key to success in using your own abbreviations is not to invent too many and, more importantly, to use them consistently.

Common symbols used in note-taking
& or + and, plus, with (the ampersand symbol can be difficult to draw freehand, use a simple squiggle instead)

– minus, without

= equals, is the same as, results in

≠ does not equal, is not the same as, does not result in

≈ is approximately equal to, is similar to

< is less than, is smaller than

> is greater than, is larger than

↑ increase, rise, growth

↑↑ rapid increase

↓ decrease, fall, shrinkage

↓↓ rapid decrease

⇒ or ∴ therefore, thus

→ leads on to, produces, causes

x no, not, incorrect

xx definitely not, disproved

? uncertain, possibly, unproven

✓ yes, correct

✓✓ definitely, certain, proven

# number

✳ special, important, notable (when added to a word or phrase)

/ per (e.g., £50/day instead of ‘fifty pounds per day’)

General abbreviations
b/c for because

b/f for before

c. approximately, roughly, about (abbreviation for the Latin ‘circa’)

e.g. for example

i.e. in other words (usually used when adding more detail or an explanation)

cf. compared to, by comparison with

w/ with

w/o without

v. very

vv. extremely

C century (e.g. C19 for ‘nineteenth century’)

K or k a thousand (e.g. 500K for ‘five hundred thousand’)

m a million (e.g. $6m for ‘six million dollars

vs versus or against

re for concerning

Two abbreviation techniques

1 Use the first few letters of the word – just enough to remember what the abbreviation
stands for, e.g. imp for ‘important’
info for ‘information’
eval for ‘evaluation’

2 Remove all (or most of) the vowels from the word and use just the key consonants
bunched together, e.g. mngmt for ‘management’
mkt for ‘market’ (and mkting for ‘marketing’)
dvpt for ‘development’

An example of the use of symbols and abbreviations to take efficient notes
Imagine you heard the following in a lecture:

At the end of the twentieth century the United Kingdom’s population, at around sixty million, was
similar to that of Italy, but Italy’s population was shrinking because its birth rate had fallen below
its death rate. The UK’s population was still growing, albeit very slowly – at a rate of 0.09%
between 1995 and 2000.

Your notes on this part of the lecture might look like this:

end 20 UK pop c60m ≈ I. BUT I. ↓ due BR < DR – cf. UK ↑ slow ie 0.09% 95–2K