• How to Take Notes From Secondary Sources
     
    Remember that the purpose of reading your textbook--or any other written material--is not to take notes or to pass a reading quiz; the purpose is to understand the material!  So your main goal is to read to achieve understanding. The purpose of taking notes is to help you engage with the text in order to build understanding, and to help you retain information by reminding you of essentials.
     
    Taking Notes From Textbooks:
    Step one: Preview the reading
          Read the title and then scan through helpers like the chapter "main idea" preview and the "Setting the Stage" paragraph, headings within the reading, and review questions at the end of the chapter. This will tell you what you are supposed to learn from the reading. 
     
    Step two: Read
        Read a section of the textbook. Read only as much as you can comfortably process, such as one sub-section of the text (these are marked by the black heading titles).
     
    Step three: Process
       Think about what you read. What is the main idea? Write down the heading for the section, and then a brief summary of the content. Try to put it in your own words, which will force you to think about what it means. You do not need to write in full sentences, but make sure that your notes will make sense to you later. 
        If there is a bold-faced term in the section, you may want to write down the term and identify what it means. This might include a definition, but also why the term is important. The textbook editor must have emphasized it for a reason . . .
     
    Step four: Repeat
       Work you way, step by step, through the chapter. 
     
    Step five: Review
       Take another look at the questions at the end of the chapter. Can you answer them without referring back to your notes? If not, can you answer them using your notes? 
     
    This process will take longer than simply reading the textbook, but may take less time than what some of you do when note-taking, which is essentially transcribing the entire book. More importantly, engaging with the text should help you to understand the reading and retain it, so that you can participate more in discussions and perform more successfully on assessments. 
     
    Taking Notes from non-textbook secondary sources
    Step one: Preview the reading
       Look for clues about the subject of the reading. What is the title? The author? The type of document? Does it have headings or review questions?
     
    Step two: Read
       Read a part of the reading. If the document is short (a paragraph, say), you may be able to read it all. If it is longer, read only as much as you can process at once. If the reading is particularly complex with unfamiliar language, you may need to read less than a paragraph at a time, maybe even one sentence at a time.
     
    Step three: Process
       What did the reading say? You should look up unfamiliar vocabulary so that you understand the content. Is the reading presenting factual information or opinion?  Write down the main idea and just enough detail to help you remember the content. Try to write in your own words. If there are events or people
     that are of particular significance in the reading, write them down and identify them.
     
    Step four:  Repeat
       Keep reading sections, thinking about the text, and noting main ideas in your own words. 
     
    Step five: Review
       Have you achieved an understanding of the reading? Could you explain the content to someone who had not read it? As with the textbook strategy above, this will take longer than simply reading the document, but it should help you to understand and retain knowledge from the assignment.