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University of Newcastle Library guides

Effective reading skills: How to 'make' notes

Find ways to make notes for researching

To make notes you need to:

1.    SCAN the whole text. Take a quick look at the cover, Table of Contents chapter headings, Intro, etc; 

2.    SKIM - read parts of the text that your scanning has shown to be important; when reading a chapter, skim the introduction, the first and last sentence of each paragraph, and the conclusion; 

3.    SELECT – select which parts you think will be useful information by jotting down page numbers and/or using ‘Post it’ stickers to mark sections that are relevant to your questions.

4.    HIGHLIGHT AND ANNOTATE -  go back to the information you found that will be useful to your assessment task and

  • Highlight relevant text
  • Make side notes as you go (annotate)
  • Record connections, themes, ideas as you are reading

5.    SUMMARISE - Make notes from highlights and annotations

  • Dot points, not full sentences
  • Your own words
  • Diagrams
  • Remember that you are doing this so you do not have to read over the text again – what you have written in your notes should be enough to jog your memory.


  • Keep a careful record of all your readings, with full citations.

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