What Is Note-Making?: Benefits, Formats, and Types

Lined notebook paper with a line down the center and note-making on one side and note-taking on the other
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If you are trying to become better at taking notes, you may have heard the word “note-making”. The meaning of note-making is usually unclear and confusing.

I researched the many different means of the words and have compiled here the information on what note-making means, how it compares to note-taking, its benefits, and its different formats.

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What is note-making?

Note-making involves creating notes where students combine information from multiple sources into their own words in an effort to see relationships and connections between ideas. It helps students understand and remember information.

It is essentially elevated note-taking. It also has all the same qualities of good note-taking: records key points, are in your own words, clear and concise, and reviewed and revised regularly.

I think this is the best and most often used definition of note-making. However, depending on the person or source, their intended meaning of note-making can vary widely. Let’s go over some of the different uses.

Note-making is used in other languages or by other countries

One of the biggest distinctions between note-making and note-taking may simply be the language or location where the term is used.

Note-making is less commonly used by English speakers.

Note-making is used frequently in India, such as by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), or sometimes in the UK.

In the United States, note-taking is the traditional term that is used the vast majority of the time.

Note-making is referred to as a specific note-taking method

Similar to how outlining, mind maps, and the Cornell method are each distinct note-taking methods—some people refer to “note-making and summarizing” as a specific type of note-taking method.

In this method, you number and indent your notes, include a glossary, and summarize them at the end.

This method is mostly referenced by the CBSE in India.

Note-making is used interchangeably with note-taking

As a result of the language difference, note-making is often used interchangeably with note-taking.

However, many definitions make important distinctions between the two.

Used to distinguish note-making vs. note-taking

As I stated, note-making is a term used in many different ways. Let’s go over some of the ways it is defined when it is being compared to note-taking.

Difference in medium

One distinction that is sometimes made is that note-making is when you take notes on a reading, and note-taking is when you take notes on lectures.

You take notes in lectures when you write down what people are saying. You make notes when while reading books or journals.

However, as with most of these definitions, there are others that disagree with this and refer to note-taking for readings too.

To denote when the notes are taken

Similar to describing the medium, some people use note-taking vs. note-making to show when the notes are created.

Note-taking is done during class, and note-making is done after class.

Difference purpose of the notes

Some consider note-taking to be when your goal of the notes is to capture information so you can refer back to it later.

With note-making, your goal is to help you better understand and see the relationships and connections in the information.

Level of detail and personalization

Another distinction people make is the level of detail and personalization. Note-taking has to be done quickly and is often in someone else’s words since you may be trying to capture the key points and examples that your professor is explaining.

Note-making takes longer and is more about connecting information, so it is often in your own words and includes your own examples and thoughts.

However, people that consider note-making any notes from readings do not only use the term for more personalized notes. They consider it note-making even if the notes are direct quotations from the book.

Different number of sources

These terms can be used to describe how many sources are included in your notes.

In note-taking, you only use one source each time. You take notes on a lecture, and you take different notes while reading.

In note-making, you combine sources. You are synthesizing information and making notes on information from various sources.

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Note-making vs. note-taking

Above, we talked about how the terms note-making and note-taking can be used to distinguish itself from the other. Let’s look deeper into the relationship between note-taking and note-making.

Note-taking and note-making can work together. You can use note-taking as a starting point when reading or attending a lecture and then use note-making to combine notes in your own words and better understand the information.

Let’s further compare and contrast note-making and note-taking.

Similarities between note-making and note-taking

Note-making and note-taking both:

  • involve writing down information and key ideas
  • require notes to be organized
  • help you learn
  • help us study
  • can be used in a variety of contexts (such as a lecture or group meeting)
  • have many different techniques, such as outlining and mind maps

Difference between note-making and note-taking

Let’s look at note-making and note-taking differences:

PurposeTo see relationships and make connections between ideasTo record information to be able to reference it later
Level of detailMore detailedLess detailed: focus on key points
PersonalizationIn your own wordsMore often transcribed in other people’s words
Level of engagementMore active since it requires combining ideasMore passive
BenefitsMore helpful to help you understand and rememberHarder to understand if the notes aren’t in your own words

In terms of length, note-making can be longer since it comes from multiple sources, but it may also be shorter since there is a focus on the information being condensed.

Why is note-making important?

Note-making (or good note-taking) is important because it helps students to understand and remember information. It also makes it easier to plan for assignments and study. Note-making clarifies information and teaches students how to organize and summarize information effectively.

Since note-making consists of seeing relationships and connections, it can also improve problem-solving and decision-making skills and help you be creative and think of new ideas.

Advantages and disadvantages of note-making

There are many benefits to note-making, but there are also some drawbacks.

Advantages of note-making:

  • Requires active listening
  • Helps you learn
  • Helps you remember information
  • Makes studying easier
  • Is personalized
  • Teaches you to summarize

Disadvantages of note-making:

  • Time-consuming
  • Requires extra effort
  • You can miss details by summarizing and condensing information from multiple sources.
  • Notes are harder to organize when they are from multiple sources and frequently added onto—notes can be confusing if you don’t have a clear system.

Note-making format

The format for note-making is very similar to the format for note-taking, but the big distinction is that you connect and build on ideas.

Notes can be made on paper by hand, on sticky notesOpens in a new tab., using an iPadOpens in a new tab., or typed on a laptopOpens in a new tab.. Many note-taking apps allow you to write on pdfs and make it easier to organize your notes.

What are the steps of note-making?

The format of note-making values 3 main steps:

  1. Rephrase the original idea
  2. Find relationships and connect ideas
  3. Build on ideas by continuing to review and add to them

Note-making occurs in three stages: before, during, and after. You review the material first to get a broad overview, then you make your notes with your preferred method, and then after you review and revise them.

What are the important features of note-making?

Notes are meant to be:

  • organized
  • follow a logical structure
  • clear
  • concise
  • personalized
  • reviewed

Note-making examples

Some consider summaries or mind mapping the best examples of note-making and the easiest format to use.

Many types of note-making are the traditional note-taking methods, such as outlining, the Cornell method, timelines, and question and answer.

Some formats are mostly used to refer to note-making, such as:

  • Digital gardeningOpens in a new tab.: like your own Wiki page where notes and ideas are posted and linked together
  • Zettelkasten methodOpens in a new tab.: where small amounts of information are written on cards and linked to each other by headings, tags, or numbers

Note: Since the term note-making can have so many different meanings and often means good note-taking, which all students should strive for anyway, on all other posts, I only use the term note-taking. Learn more about Effective Note-TakingOpens in a new tab..

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