Taking Notes Using Note Cards
Now that you have gathered your sources, it’s time to read and take notes. This
note-taking system using 3x5 or 4x6 cards works! Before you take information
from any source, you should have a Bibliography Template for that source and have
a code number in the upper right hand corner. Any note card with information
from that source should have the same code number in the upper right
Record only one piece of information on each note card. When it comes time
to write the rough draft, you will arrange all your cards, using your outline as a
“sorting” guide. If you have two pieces of information on a single card and each
item belongs in a different place in your paper, you will not be able to put one card
into two places.
You should not use complete sentences. Words, phrases, and fragments are
fine---just as long as you can understand later what you have written.
Three kinds of information are appropriate for note cards:
A. Facts. Record accurately!
B. General information. If reading through material gives you an
idea, write the idea in your own words on your note.
C. Specific information. If you read something which is worded
just the way you would like it to appear on your paper, copy it
exactly onto your note card. Enclose the material in quotation
In all cases be sure to record the page number where you found the information.
Finding Information in Sources
Skimming helps you search for specific information. Here’s how to skim for
information if your source is a book:
A. Turn to the index at the back of the book or to the table of contents at the
front. Look for headings related to your topic and research areas.
B. When you find a heading that seems useful, turn to the page(s) listed and
skim to see if that page or section of the book has the information you want.
C. Force your eyes to move very quickly until you find the information you
want or you decide that it is not there. In non-book sources, read the
subheadings carefully to determine if that section will be useful. In scanning
paragraphs, pay special attention to the first and last sentence.
Kinds of Notes
Your notes will contain a variety of information: facts or statistics, direct
quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. The note cards that follow each
subheading furnish example(s) of the type discussed. Several of the examples of
the types of notes provided in the next four subsections were taken after reading a
Boston Globe article, “Scientific Maverick on a Quest of Old Age ‘Cure’” by Raja
Mishra, Sunday, August 19, 2001.