10 Tips for Taking Notes
Your research note cards should include all the information necessary to write your term paper. You should take extreme care as you create these note cards.
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1.Start with a fresh pack of research note cards. Large, lined cards are probably best, especially if you want to make your own detailed personal notes. Also consider color coding your cards by topic to keep your paper organized from the start.
2. Label your cards. In the upper right corner of the card put the Source Card Number or the source that you are taking the notes from. In the upper left corner put the topic the information is covering, and write the page number in the bottom left corner.
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3. Do not use the same note card for more than one source or more than one topic.
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4. Notes are used to remind you of what you read. Therefore it should be in bullet form
and not complete sentences.

5. Do not try to read a whole book or chapter before taking notes. Read one or two
paragraphs and decide whether the information is important to you. If it is, take notes on
it.

6. Only take notes on information that is new to you. If you already knew it, such as the
capital of France is Paris, you do not need to take a note on it.

7. Gather more than you need. Use the library and the Internet to find potential sources for your research paper. You should continue to research until you have quite a few potential sources—about three times as many as your teacher recommends.

8. Narrow down your sources. As you read your potential sources, you will find that some are helpful, others are not, and some will repeat the same information you already have. This is how you narrow your list down to include the most solid sources.

9. Record as you go. From each source, write down any notes or quotes that could be useful in your paper. As you take notes, try to paraphrase all information. This reduces the chances of committing accidental plagiarism.

Example of a paragraph of reading
"I had to explain to him that I was deaf. I said, 'Wait; I can't hear; please talk slowly.' He looked at me and said, 'What?' I told him again I was deaf, and he said, 'Oh.' He pointed to a door and told me to go through that door. I followed his instructions. I opened the door and walked through it, closing the door behind me. I found that I was in the hallway near the elevator where I had just come up. I was shocked! He had rejected me without any explanation. I got into the elevator, and as it descended, I felt very letdown. I couldn't understand why he didn't give me a chance to explain that I could do the job well. It didn't require hearing!"
-- Bernard Bragg, My First Summer Job, A Handful of Stories, 19


Example paraphrase
In A Handful of Stories, Bernard Bragg tells a story of trying to get a job. One time he told a potential employer he was deaf, and the man just pointed to the door. Mr. Bragg, not realizing the man was telling him to leave, opened the door and stepped out. Not until he went out the door did he realize he had been rejected because he was deaf (19).

10. Create your own system and stick to it. For instance, you may want to pre-mark each card with spaces for each category, just to make sure you don't leave anything out.

11. Be exact. If at any time you write down information word for word, be sure to include all punctuation marks, capitalizations, and breaks exactly as they appear in the source. Before you leave any source, double-check your notes for accuracy.

12. If you think it might be useful, write it down. Don't ever, ever pass over information because you're just not sure whether it will be useful! This is a very common and costly mistake in research. More often than not, you find that the passed-over tidbit is critical to your paper, and then you won't find it again.

13. Avoid using abbreviations and code words as you record notes —especially if you plan to quote. Your own writing can look completely foreign to you later. It's true! You may not be able to understand your own clever codes after a day or two, either.