The REDW Strategy

REDW, which stands for Read, Examine, Decide, and Write, is a note taking strategy in which a note taker attempts to break a complicated paragraph or section into a series of ideas that can be examined one at a time. This strategy can be very helpful when you’re trying to take notes on a section of your textbook that you just can’t figure out.

To use the REDW strategy, there are four things that you must do.

  • First, you have to read the section that you don’t understand to get a general idea of what the section is actually taking about. It is important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to understand the section, but instead means that you just need to find the major concept that the section is trying to explain.


  • Secondly, once you have a general idea of what the section is trying to explain, try to examine the section one sentence at a time. If you understand the sentence, write down the key points that the sentence conveys. If you do not understand the sentence, try to focus on what the sentence is talking about rather than what it means and write each of the words or phrases that seem to be important on a piece of paper. For example, if a sentence says “neutralization refers to a chemical reaction in which an acid and base form a salt,” you may be able to tell that the sentence is attempting to define the term “neutralization” even though you don’t necessarily know what the sentence means. This will help you create a list of the words and phrases that may be important.
  • Third, look at each of the words on the list that you have created and try to decide if each word is trying to explain the major concept that is covered in the section or if it is just trying to convey a fact or supporting detail. For example, if you were taking notes on the first paragraph in this article, you might create a list that includes words and phrases such as “note taking strategy,” “read,” “examine,” “decide,” “write,” “break complicated paragraph,” “into series of ideas,” “examined one at a time,” and “helpful when taking notes on textbook.” You might then decide that the words that are trying to actually explain the major concept of the paragraph, which is of course the REDW strategy, would be “note taking strategy,” “read,” “examine,” “decide,” “write,” and “break complicated paragraph into series of ideas.” Then, once you have decided which words are important and which are not, you can record the major concept that the section covers and record each of the key words that you identified.