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MHS Library | Taking notes: The why and the how

Taking notes from academic reading

Taking notes effectively will maximise your reading, understanding and writing.

Effective note-taking can help you to:

  • organise your ideas
  • keep focused while reading
  • help you locate what you've read later
  • keep a record of your ideas as you read
  • think critically about what you read
  • analyse a text
  • engage more effectively with what you read
  • draw links to other research
  • draw conclusions
  • highlight areas that you need to develop further

The way you take notes is critical to your success. Messy notes will make locating information difficult, and will not lead to a clarity of thoughts. 
Creating a split-page planner will help you ensure that your reading leads to effective planning and writing.

Start with bibliographic details (all of them, eg the page number is important when you need to locate your information later), then pair your notes with your own comments on your information. This prepares you for the first stage of writing. 


This guide has been adapted for Melbourne High School from The University of New South Wales libguide.

Active reading: Graphic organisers


Using these graphic organisers may help you avoid plagiarism.


These graphic organisers have been adapted from the University of Melbourne.