Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

WAC / Engineering & Technology

Tips for Taking Class Notes

Every person has a different way of taking notes.  How you do it greatly helps your studying and time management skills. The following are some note taking strategies

1. Dictation-Transcription Strategy

This is literally where you write word-for-word (or close to it) what the instructor says.  If you are a student who prefers writing most of the lecture, then this strategy is for you.  Here you would simply take notes from the top of the page to the bottom, writing in short paragraphs the content of the lecture.  If you prefer this method, it is recommended that you learn shorthand or use common abbreviations.

      Example of Dictation-Transcription Strategy



Current Electricity


          Current elec. is the flow of electrons (flow of charge)


where:  E’s are moving steadily in def. direction


continuously thru some conductor, E’s flow from point of


xcess electrons to point of deficiency of E’s, separation of


charge produces electromotive force (EMF), and EMF pushes


E’s  through conductor.


          In an elec. circ., current is the means by which energy is


transferred from a source such as a battery or gen.’r to a load


(lamp, motor, or other device that absorbs elec. energy and


converts  it into some other form of energy or into work).

NOTE:  It is important that when you use abbreviations now that you remember what they stand for later. This will help you save time and energy when you are reviewing your notes.

2. Outline Strategy

This method uses an outline as a template.  Use headings and key words to remind you of the main points and key issues from the class lecture.

     Example of Outline Strategy



Personality Traits

  I.  Four Blood Types
      A. Type A – “Organized”
           1.  good at planning things, likes things to be neat
           2.  careful, avoids dangerous situations
           3.  has a hard time making decisions
      B. Type AB – “Reserved”
          1.  doesn’t show emotions or talk about problems

3. Two-Column Strategy

This note taking style divides your page into two columns with a vertical line separating the left column (one-third of the page) from the right column (two-thirds of the page).  Most of the main ideas, points, and examples will be written on the right side of your page.  The left side is used for writing key words, questions to assist you with better understanding the main ideas, pictures/sketches of the building, product, instrument, or item that these main ideas represent, and for adding your thoughts on the main points. Two examples of the 2-column strategy are shown below.

NOTE:  Left and right column sizing should be based on amount of writing, size of sketch, and handwriting size.

Example 1

architectural sketch




Megalith means great or large

Mega = big

stone. The megalithic 

Lith = stone

monument:  Stonehenge

Sketch from

Example 2


My Thoughts


Drafting Main Ideas

Why so many types

Construction Line:  a very very light

of lines?

line used to construct our drawings,


they are very easily erased.



Are there other

Visible Line:  a very dark line used to


show the edges of our drawing and our


border around the paper.




Hidden Line:  a short dashed line that


is used to show us something we


cannot see in our drawing.

Not sure which strategy is best for you? Try them all.  Find the one that works best for you by combining strategies or editing steps to customize a technique that meets your needs.