Note-taking is a valuable skill that can help you in college and beyond. Here are some tips to help you improve your note-taking skills:

Before class

  • Take notes on the assigned reading using active reading skills:
    • Identify questions or confusing topics
    • Use sticky notes to write a summary of each section as you read
    • Create visual aids
  • If the slides are available, print them and take notes directly on the page

During class

  • Leave blank spaces as you write to add more information in later
  • Use abbreviations and symbols (e.g. function can be written as fxn)
  • Take notes in different colors to indicate different meanings
  • Listen for verbal cues, such as, "the following five steps", or "a major reason why"
  • Add examples of abstract ideas
  • Do not use complete sentences
  • Repetition often indicates importance

After class

Within 24-hours of class:

  • Check for clarity
  • Fill in missing information or terms
  • Organize and create study guides
  • Write summaries for review
  • Determine what you still do not understand and reach out to your professor for help


  • Create practice quizzes using paper, apps like Quizlet, or use the ones at the end of each chapter
  • Create a Google Doc to compile notes with your friends or peers in class
  • Create visual aids such as compare/contrast charts or venn diagrams
  • Meet up with your study group and take turns teaching each other the material
  • Study for a few hours each day - consistent repetition over time builds better understanding than studying the night before

Support services

For additional support, check out these campus resources:

Disability Services
Disability Services provides note-taking consultations and software options for students who are registered through Disability Services and have received note-taking accommodations.

Writing Center
The Writing Center is available to CU Boulder undergrad and graduate students for free. The Writing Center provides free one-to-one tutoring sessions with professionally trained writing consultants, individualized guidance and feedback, as well as time-saving skills for writing and presentation projects.

Academic coaching
Academic coaching is available to help students develop skills and tools that will help them be successful at CU Boulder, including note-taking, time management, motivation, study skills and more. Academic coaching is available through the following programs:

Check with your college to see if other academic coaching or peer mentoring programs are available. You can also contact your academic advisor to discuss specific resources available to you through your college or school.