Taking Notes While Reading for Better Understanding

For more than ten years, I have been trying to figure out the best way to read and take notes. Judging from the current situation, I should have failed. My failure is not that I failed to find that method, but that I fell into a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the search, wasting a lot of time, and even ruining my original future. Give up searching! There is no perfect way!

However, there do exist some methods that can be followed to take good notes while reading. An article from the UNC Learning Center gave me great inspiration.

One of key ideas is that we don’t necessary to copy down lots of words from the text, because that won’t engage our brain. This means that the main purpose of taking notes is not to accurately record information, but to better understand the content of the text.

For me, the most useful method mentioned in that article is to take notes from memory: read a small section, then leave the book, write down what our read in the memory in our own language; write the main content, don’t have to worry about the details; return to the book after writing, and check to see if there are any omissions or discrepancies. The purpose of this is to force ourselves to think about the content of the book, not to take notes for the sake of taking notes.