Annotating and note taking are important academic skills because they enable you to effectively record and synthesise important information from a range of resources such as books, journal articles and lectures.

Notes give an overview of the main points of a work and help you to see connections between your topic and other sources. Good note taking:

  • clearly and concisely states the main theme of the resource
  • retains any emphasis or focus placed on the topic by the author
  • omits all unnecessary background information or detail
  • records your views of how the main ideas relate to your topic.

Annotations summarise the scope and content of a work, and also provide critical comment. Good annotations:

  • clearly and concisely state the main theme of the resource
  • pinpoint any unique content or comment on what the work contributes to the literature on the subject
  • indicate how the work relates to other resources on the subject
  • include a critique of the resource's credibility and appropriateness to your topic
  • identify how the resource builds your understanding of the subject.

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Tips for effective notetaking and annotating

  • record all bibliographic details such as author, date, title, publisher, publication type
  • accurately record page number for each note taken beside the note
  • record keywords, to help organise your information
  • include notes, paraphrasing and summaries
  • include your comments on the text and how it relates to your topic
  • identify relationships to other literature
  • indicate relevance of main points to your topic
  • clearly identify original text and page number, mark where you have included direct quotes, to avoid accidental plagiarism

Effective annotating and note taking will assist when it comes to synthesising your information. See Module 5. Synthesise and communicate your ideas.

Further Resources


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