Note-taking technique

  • Go to a source.
  • On a blank page on the computer screen, type today’s date and the whole bibliographic reference at the top of the page.
  • While reading, type (or cut and paste) any important quotations. Put the quote in quotation marks and, at the end of the quote, put the page number or source URL for the quote in brackets. Go back and double-check what you have typed to make sure you have typed the quote completely accurately, although during the editing phase you will still want to go back and check with the source to verify that all quotes are completely accurate.
  • If you want to paraphrase or summarize in your own words, do so and then put the page number plus some clear identifier at the end of the paraphrase.
  • While you are reading and typing you will likely get ideas about how to organize your chapter or paper, new material or ideas, new headings, etc. If a thought or idea strikes you while reading about a particular issue or event, one technique is to type it in bold or italics on a new line in the text. This way you will be able to easily distinguish between the author’s ideas, quotes from the author, and your own thoughts, and you won’t lose the thought.
  • Some researchers use stars or highlighting to indicate what they think are very important quotes or paraphrased thoughts.
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