What to Do When Your Notes Are Just Too Long

To take good notes, you have to make sure that your notes cover all of the key points that your teacher or professor has covered in class. This is because the primary purpose of your notes is to make sure that you have access to an organized list of the key points that you need to know. It is important to note, however, that there are some classes that simply cover so much information that it is virtually impossible for a note taker to record all of the notes that he or she needs to record in a reasonable amount of space. In fact, there may be situations in which your notes just seem to go on and on and on.

If this is the case and you find yourself in a situation in which your notes simply have too much information or too much empty space for you to find the information that you need, you may need to shorten your notes. Fortunately, there are several different ways in which you can shorten your notes.

  • First, try to rewrite your notes so that there is a reasonable amount of space between each topic and so that each topic appears in an order that makes sense to you. This is important because rewriting and reorganizing your notes will not only eliminate some of the large gaps that may be present in your notes, but it will also make it easier for you find the information that you need when you have to sift through the pages of notes that you have.
  • Secondly, as you rewrite your notes, try to make sure that each sentence is as short and simple as possible. This is important because the more words you use, the longer your notes will be, and there’s no reason to use ten words when one word will do. For example, if your notes say that “Sir Francis Drake was a privateer that sailed for England during the 16th century,” you may be able to shorten this sentence to “Sir Francis Drake was a 16th-century English privateer.” In most cases, the key to shortening your notes is simply to summarize each sentence or paragraph in as few words as possible.
  • Finally, if your notes still seem to be unmanageable after you’ve removed all of the gaps, reorganized all of the topics, and shortened all of your sentences, you may want to summarize each page of notes on the bottom of the page (just like you would in the Cornell Method) or the back of the page. This will allow you to look through a condensed version of your notes when you’re trying to find a specific topic.