How to Take Notes from a Textbook

In high school I definitely took textbooks for granted. At least twice a week I would be asked to outline multiple chapters of a textbook in high school. Since it was assigned, I did it without learning too much from it. I would skim a paragraph and scribble down anything to make it look like I had put effort into my assignment. Textbooks never seemed to have much value for me because my high school teachers would teach straight from the book, so even if I didn't read the material assigned thoroughly I would still learn the necessary information.

How to take notes from a textbook - the college life stylist

The value of a textbook has just now hit me in my second semester of college. Last semester I was never assigned readings from a textbook, but this year I get multiple chapters a week for my macro-economics class.  Since I wasn't told I had to outline the chapters I simply read the first two I was assigned, thinking my professor would touch on the topics I had skimmed through. But he didn't. It turns out the chapters he assigned were to give us background information on what he was actually going to talk about (why didn't I think about that).

So it's safe to safe my first econ lecture was overwhelming. The first thing I did when I got back to my dorm was sit down with my textbook and learn how to take notes the right way. Here are my tips for taking notes from a textbook, the right way:

|Actively Read First|

Instead of just jumping in to taking notes, take some time to read the material thoroughly. Personally I read each major section through once, then I go back and take notes. Noting only the material that seems to be the most important. Omitting any added fluff the textbook company may have added. 

|Use a Highlighter|

While I'm reading first I like to highlight anything that's repeated multiple times or any important definitions/explanations there are. Having the major sections highlighted helps streamline my note-taking process afterward.

|Don't Copy Word for Word|

The biggest mistake you can make while note-taking from a textbook is to just copy exactly what the book says. In order to understand a concept you have to be able to explain it. So use your notes as an opportunity to explain what you've learned from the reading. Acting as if you will be teaching someone the material can help you learn to take notes in your own voice rather than the textbooks.

|Leave Space for Professors Notes|

Leaving some space between sections in your outlining will allow you to include important information you learn in lecture. Most professors will tell you when they think something is important or sometimes even if that particular topic will be on an exam. So make sure to add in any comments your professor makes that you think would benefit your notes.

How often do you use your textbook as a reference? 



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