Even when you’re just writing down the instructor’s main lecture points, recording everything that you need to record can be difficult. However, you may be able to use symbols and shorthand to write less while still recording the most important points from the lecture. A few ways to make this note taking strategy work for you are:
- Use symbols and abbreviations that are easy to decipher: The meaning of shortened words and symbols should be fairly easy to determine. For instance, “bc” is a better abbreviation for because than “ec,” even though both possibilities contain just two letters from the word. Easy to understand symbols include “=” for “is,” “+” for “and,” and “@” for “at.”
- Use the same abbreviations and symbols every time for specific words: A good shorthand system is consistent. If you used “ch” as an abbreviation for change during one class lecture, use the same abbreviation for subsequent lectures as well. If “ch” sometimes means change, but can also mean charged, charred, chair, etc., your notes can quickly become difficult to follow. If possible, memorize the most common shortened versions of words that may appear in your notes to ensure consistency.
- Review your notes as soon as possible to ensure that you understand them: Read over your lecture notes as soon as you can to make sure that you understand all of the symbols that you used. When you do this shortly after class, you’ll probably remember enough from the lecture to figure out any confusing abbreviations. Write out the long version of these words when you’re revising or rewriting your notes to avoid confusion later on.
- Use what works best for you: Many students have been using some form of shorthand for years to take notes. If you’ve always used “td” as an abbreviation for today, don’t try to change it to “2da” just because it’s the more commonly used shorthand version of the word. Develop a system that works for you and stick with it.