The Guide to Note-Taking

The Guide to Note-Taking

Has this ever happened to you? You attended a meeting successfully, but later on couldn’t remember the minute points discussed in it? That is the reason why successful businessmen always recommend taking notes. So, today, take a look at the different methods of note-taking to make the most of meetings and recollect important details even after days or months. Read on.


  1. The Outline Method

Undoubtedly, this is the most common method people use for taking notes. As the name indicates, in this method, you need to make a structure of the notes by writing them in bullet points. In short, write the main topic on the extreme left, and start noting down the bullet points below it.

When can you use this method? When the structure of the meeting is set and flows in a systematic pattern.

The pros of using the Outline Method are:

  • Highlights the key points
  • Easy to review and edit later
  • Gives a clean structure to your notes


  1. The Cornell Method

This is a unique type of note-taking method. And the main thing that differentiates this method from others is the page layout. The page is generally divided into three to four sections. The top of the page is reserved for the title and the bottom for the summary of the meeting. The mid-section is divided into a 3:7 ratio vertically. You can use the left section for any special comments, questions, and hints regarding the actual notes on the right.

When can you use this method? You can actually use the Cornell method for nearly all general meetings.

The pros of using the Cornell Method are:

  • Summarizes all the information
  • A quicker way to review – thanks to the summary section
  • Helps in organizing notes better


  1. The Boxing Method

As the name suggests, this method includes grouping and boxing the similar or same concepts together. You need to assign a specific section for each category, and then note the thoughts in the box. This way, it helps in cutting down the time while you are noting down points as well as reviewing.

When can you use this method? You can use this method when you are aware of the layout of the meeting and can divide it into a number of sections.

The pros of using the Boxing Method are:

  • Organizes concepts and categorize them together
  • Can focus on a single box while reviewing
  • Tells you the relation between concepts in a visual way
  • Perfect if you are taking notes on a digital device


  1. The Charting Method

This is an ideal method of note-taking when there is a lot of comparative information available, especially in terms of facts and stats. You can form a chart or spreadsheet by dividing the concepts into rows and columns and filling in the information. It is a visual representation to gather the information quickly in the latter phase.

When can you use this method? Though this method is not always recommended for meetings, it can help combine the summary at the end.

The pros of using the Charting Method are:

  • Information is well-structured
  • Best for reviewing the information at a glance
  • Easily comparable between different categories


  1. The Mapping Method

This method is commonly used during meetings. Even you might have used it, but just maybe didn’t know that it is called so. The mapping method is like a flow chart, wherein you keep dividing and relating each topic to the other with an arrow. It is the easiest to use but also messiest to understand later if you do not make proper notes at the day’s end.

When can you use this method? This method works best when the content of the meeting is too heavy and you need to note down every single detail. You can also use this method when you have no idea where the meeting is heading and the topics to be discussed.

The pros of using the Mapping Method are:

  • Visually appealing but very concise for reviewing
  • Can note down detailed information about all the topics in a concise form
  • Allows easy edits at the end of the day


Some Handy Tips for Note-Taking

Now that you have an idea about the different methods you can use for taking notes, the choice is yours when it comes to zeroing in on one. However, here are a few tips you can follow irrespective of the note-taking method you choose, to make the process simple.


  • Look Out for Key Facts

Keep an eye out for key facts and don’t make it is a habit to note everything you hear. This will not only annoy your business client but also decrease your ability to understand the content and end up missing the next important sentence.

Tip: Try to jot down the key points and use subheadings in bullet points to make sure that you do not miss out on anything important.


  • Do Not Hold Back on Questions

Understanding the ideas of your client is important to do business successfully. So, do not shy away from asking questions. Take a moment and cross-question the points you did not get the first time or need more information about.

Tip: While taking notes, make a special mention or highlight the points you need to ask later during a meeting or a presentation.


  • Use Abbreviations and Shorthand Techniques

You do not actually need to go and learn shorthand script. Instead, invent your own. Use symbols, abbreviations, or any such quick signs to understand the text later and note it down quickly. But be consistent in using the abbreviations and shorthand script of your own. Or else you may confuse yourself later in the future while revisiting the notes.

Tip: See short videos like Ted talks and try noting them down to hone your skills at shorthand script.


  • Make Use of Colors

Colors can help you segment different pieces of information and later view the notes quite effectively. For example, if your meeting is about product development, you can plan and jot down the tasks related to different teams in different colors. Similarly, you can use the highlighter for color-coding the different aspects of the notes.

Tip: Just use different colors and do not stress about using the right colors. Or else, you might end up losing the streak of the discussion.


  • Organize Your Notes at Day End

Make it a habit to organize your notes at the earliest. As a matter of fact, consider this as your EOD task. If you keep the notes as it is and revisit them later, you may not understand what you have written. So, make sure to organize them and make them readable and understandable even for the future.

Tip: Back up the notes on your computer or tablet to make sure that you do not lose them.


Final Thoughts:

Note-taking is an important part of any meeting as it ideally pens down your discussion and conversational topics. If your notes are unclear, you may miss out on some important factor of the meeting. So, make it your habit to note down things clearly to keep up and remember the details later. So, which method are you going to use to boost your note-taking skills? Let us know in the comment section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>