How To Start Taking Notes From What You Read

A beginner’s guide

Josh Spilker

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Photo by Michael Austin on Unsplash

It’s the time of the year when “best book” lists start dropping out of the air, ones like this or this.

But what can you do with the information that you take in — especially from all those top non-fiction books?

If knowledge is an art, note-taking is the brushstroke that brings that art to life.

Whether you’re a student diving into textbooks or an avid reader exploring the realms of fiction and non-fiction, effective note-taking from a book can deepen your understanding and retention.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore strategies tailored to extracting valuable insights from books, turning your reading sessions into productive learning experiences.

Set the stage for note-taking success

Before going all in, take a moment to preview the material.

Skim through the table of contents, chapter headings, and any summaries or introductory sections.

Take a look at the index and see what’s there.

This will provide a roadmap for your reading and help you identify the main themes and key concepts.

Engage your mind with active reading

How to do this? Ask questions in your notes, underline any challenging assumptions, and make connections between the text and your existing knowledge.

This level of engagement lays the foundation for effective note-taking.

Make book margins your canvas with annotations

It’s okay to write in a book if you own it.

Jot down brief summaries, underline key phrases, and mark areas that require further exploration.

This not only helps you stay actively involved with the content but also serves as a quick reference when reviewing at the end of each chapter or…

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