The following chart identifies common note-taking problems and suggests possible solutions.

Problem

Solution

"My mind wanders and I get bored." Sit in the front of the room. Be certain to preview assignments. Silently pose questions you expect to be answered in the lecture.
"The instructor talks too fast." Develop a shorthand system; use abbreviations. Leave blanks and fill them in later.
"The lecturer rambles." Preview correlating text assignments to determine organizing principles. Reorganize your notes after the lecture.
"Some ideas don’t seem to fit anywhere." Record them in the margin or in parentheses within your notes for reassessment later during editing.
"Everything seems important." or "Nothing seems important." You have not identified key concepts and may lack necessary background knowledge. You do not understand the topic. Preview related text assignments.
"I can’t spell all the new technical terms." Record them phonetically, the way they sound; fill in correct spellings during editing.
"The instructor uses terms without defining them." Record terms as used; leave space to record definitions later; consult text glossary or dictionary.
"The instructor reads directly from text." Mark passages in text; write instructor’s comments in the margin. Record page references in your notes.