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5 of the Most-Used Note-Taking Formats

By Zeeshan , in Education , at October 1, 2021

Note-taking is massively important but it can also be difficult. Taking notes at speed when there’s a lot of information to process sometimes leads to mistakes, undermining collected data and causing problems for businesses. Over the years, businesses and academics have devised different note-taking formats to alleviate this problem.

#1 The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method involves using spatial awareness on paper to quickly note down information and complete said notes at a later date from memory. Practitioners rule their paper with a two-inch margin and a six-inch area to the right. The aim is simple. Write down keywords and phrases from a speech or lecture in the six-inch area. When the speaker moves onto a different topic, skip a few lines and continue the process. When the speech or lecture has ended, complete the short phrases to complete the notes.

#2 Mapping

The Mapping Method is a highly visual form of note-taking and helps readers to make connections between various pieces of information. Mapping involves making a note of core themes, for example, “communication,” and then adding strands. One strand could be entitled “marketing,” another “training” or “essays.” From there you might add additional strands. Mapping is, in essence, a set of headers linked to subheadings, but the ensuing spider web of linked themes can help a reader focus. If not done correctly, of course, mapping can err towards the chaotic and be difficult to follow.

#3 SOAP

The beauty of SOAP lies in its simplicity. It uses an easy-to-remember methodology that helps note-takers to work quickly and efficiently, hence why it’s often used by medical practitioners. A massage therapy SOAP note example would process information in the following order: Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. The notes begin with a client’s description of their condition, followed by objective, recordable data gathered by a massage therapist. Assessment simply means determining the client’s condition and the plan involves deciding what to do next. SOAP is useful across the medical sector, but it’s used more widely, too.

#4 The Charting Method

This involves constructing a table that consists of various categories. For example, you might be taking notes on different types of marketing methods. In this scenario, you would have a column for “social media,” “PPC” or “email.” Short notes are then added to each column according to the information delivered. Charting has the advantage of being extremely well organized. Information is divided in a clear, easy-to-follow manner, but the method doesn’t leave room for many details, which can be difficult when you are dealing with complicated topics.

#5 The Sentence Method

Best for taking shorter notes, the Sentence Method can become chaotic if used to process large amounts of information. The note-taker simply writes a sentence summing up an individual topic/area and then moves on to a new line. Notetakers should leave gaps between lines to avoid a cluttered page, but this method is somewhat more organized than Cornell and allows for more in-depth detail than Charting.

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