Pay Attention to Penmanship

Your notes won’t be of much use to you unless they are legible and neat. For that reason, paying attention to penmanship while you take notes is vital. The following tips can help you take neater notes:

    • Don’t crowd information on the page: In an effort to use less paper, some students try to cram as much information as possible onto a single page. This isn’t a great idea as notes that are crammed and crowded are much more difficult to read. Space out your writing so it can be easily read and, when it comes to your class notes, don’t worry too much about conserving paper.
  • Neatly correct errors: If you make an error while you are writing, simply cross the word out neatly and correct it. Resist the urge to “scribble out” errors as this not only looks messy, but can also lead to rips or make the text on the other side of the page illegible.
  • Check the quality of your handwriting regularly: If you know that your handwriting isn’t the best, check regularly to make sure that you can read it. Once every 10 to 20 minutes during a lecture, read a line or two to determine whether you can decipher your own notes.


If your handwriting is truly atrocious and even you have trouble reading it, consider using a laptop to take notes if you can type fairly quickly. Just be sure to ask your professor or teacher first whether it’s okay. Another option is to use a tape recorder, which you can use to verify and perfect your notes after class. If you decide to stick with the old-fashioned method of note taking, be sure to review and rewrite your notes as soon as possible after class. When the lecture is still fresh in your mind, you should be able to make sense of most of the illegible words and unclear abbreviations that you will see.
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