It is important to remember that there’s more than one way to take good notes. In fact, there are actually a number of different note taking strategies that may be able to help you improve your note taking. However, one of the note taking strategies that a number of note takers use is mapping. Mapping is a note taking strategy in which a note taker attempts to link a series of related ideas together by drawing lines from the main topic of the discussion to the subtopics that are related to that main topic, lines from the subtopics to the major details that are related to those subtopics, and lines from the major details to the minor details that are related to those major details. This strategy can be very helpful when your teacher or professor is trying to teach a lot of information in a single class or when you’re not sure how or what your teacher or professor is going to teach.
It is important to note, however, that there are a couple of things that you should know about mapping before you use it.
- First, to make a map, you have to be able to distinguish the major topics from the subtopics, major details, and minor details that support them. This is important because a map is supposed to show you the relationship between all of the key points that you are recording, and you have to be able to distinguish the information that is important from the information that is less important to determine where each of the lines on your map should be drawn. For example, if your teacher or professor is discussing the major battles of World War II, you may have to take notes on the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle of Midway, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the location in which each of these battles took place, the date on which each battle took place, the parties that were involved in the conflict, and other similar information. To make a map of these notes, you would write “Major Battles of World War II” as the main topic, write each of the three battles somewhere on the page around the main topic, and draw three lines from the main topic to each of the battles (the subtopics). You would then write and draw a line connecting the date, the location, and the parties that were involved to the appropriate battle.
- Secondly, it is important to remember that you may need to create more than one map in some cases. This is important because a teacher or professor may cover more than one main topic in a class, and you have to be able to tell when something is related and when it’s not.