The benefits of taking notes for learning

Between the first notes on paper and those of today in their format on the screen, we must always remember what we learn to prevent our memory from failing us. And to do this, becoming a good note-taking writer means putting the best omens on our side!

The benefits of taking notes

Neuroscience is here to tell us: Taking notes while learning enables us promote better attention and focus of the memorization process† Whenever we reformulate in our notes what we have just heard in class, whenever we set ourselves memory challenges in the form of a test, riddle or keyword to develop, we are actively committed to acquiring and consolidating more effective learning.

After taking notes, read them again to check the correctness of the comments. If in doubt, do not hesitate to ask the teacher or fellow students for some additional explanation. Distinguish clearly between what has been said, what is essential, and what has yet to be confirmed or expanded upon with further research.

Of course, we do not become expert minutes takers overnight. We are facing a kind of passage where the questions of experience time and learning techniques are essential.

So how do you get on the right track? How can you successfully locate critical information? How can we know how to prioritize them in a layout that is practical for us?

First step: observation

The first step will be to observe what is being done when taking notes around us, be it the teaching staff or our classmates. Which method seems to be the most used? Does this method fit our learning style and profile?

Each method offers a different layout. On the one hand, the notes can be found, for example, in the form of a cascade, a staircase, a tree structure or a network of concepts. On the other hand, the information to be written down can be divided into specific writing areas as suggested the Cornell method

  • An A zone to identify the subject, date and course.
  • A B zone for making content concise and light-hearted. This part can be hidden from the revision afterwards.
  • A C-zone to write keywords or a warning.
  • A D area to briefly summarize in two sentences and number the page.

In addition, we can still choose between the concept map, the sketchnoting, the boxing method or the one called The Outline Method.

What equipment will we need? Clearly capture what is needed on paper such as quick-drying markers to establish color codes, for example, or on the screen, ask yourself what programs or applications we will be using for note-taking (Evernote, Microsoft One, Google Keep, Simple Note , Notion Bear, Apple Notes…) with the caveat to always remember that you are equipped with the correct chargers and good access to the mains socket.

Second step: practice

The practice will guide you in what works best when taking notes, the results obtained in the evaluations will give you a clear overview of this.

A good note-taker can now come to the aid of the absent classmate, another day we may need it.

Mutual help with good note taking teams is a big plus.

The case of UNIPAD, a device that allows allophone students to have live access to notes taken by French-speaking students from lectures through collaborative text editing used synchronously, has been quite successful. Depending on the country, we would speak of a common note. Taking French-style notes, for example, which may not be far from taking Spanish-style notes.

Those who will benefit from taking notes are people who like to organize and write ideas. Those same people are already taking notes in their personal lives, maybe they even have a journal on paper or a screen where they’ve been working out for a while.

I remember one specific example well. The student taking notes was such as to cook and tidy up the house, efficient, organized and even better than learning the foreign language. His notes had an incredible charm that made you want to review what he had learned at any time of the day. I spoke to her recently, she always has her cherished notebook with her no matter the moves!

If you ask me about my personal take on note-taking, I’d tell you to find your style, what works best for you. What works for me in all cases is the color coding, symbols, shapes, arrows and boxes to link the information into the theoretical but artistic visual whole I need.


BONNET, C. Fast and efficient method for taking notes (+ abbreviation). URL:

BOUCHET, K. Design of the Unipad device for collaborative note-taking. International Journal of Higher Education Pedagogy. URL:; DOI:

This method of taking notes would be very effective. To be a student. URL:

CHAPUIS, C. Taking notes on paper is more stimulating to the brain. URL: a-smartphone-or-a-computer-and-it-let-you-have-a-much-better-memory

Discover Sketchnote. URL:

DESWARTE, C. Reflection on the preparation for taking notes in French as a second language of non-native speakers studying at a French-speaking university. URL:

Taking notes. URL:

LOSFELD, JB. The best note-taking apps on Android. URL:

MEILLEUR, C. Neuroscience: learning in 4 phases. URL:

Taking Notes: 7 Methods to Be Fast and Efficient. URL:être-rapid-et-efficace/

VINCENT. 10 techniques to take effective notes. URL:

View more articles by this author

Leave a Comment