How do I organise my notes for Uni?

Had a fellow reader ask me this question over facebook this morning, and I thought…hey, this is kinda blog worthy!

It took me a while to figure out what my style of note taking was, and it is really up to your learning style!

The way I see it, there’s the old fashion ‘let’s print out all the lectures and hand write!’ and there’s the modern way of ‘let’s do it all on the computer!’.

1) Let’s print out all the lectures and hand write notes!

So I started out first year printing out all the lecture notes, and realised 4 weeks in that it wasn’t going to work out for me. It was a challenging managing/storing/filing all the paper. And if you need to search through your notes for a particular topic, you will have to flip through so many pages to find the lecture, find the page etc. It just got really messy.

But in saying that, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid handwriting notes! Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the old fashion way of handwriting notes.

And I probably wiped out a big chunk of forest just to print out one week’s worth of lecture notes!

If you are considering this way of note taking, here is how I organised my notes back then.

For PSYC10003

I would go down to Officeworks/Big W (did you know Big W has a really good range of stationary? And it’s cheaper than officeworks too! And no – Big W did not pay me to rave about them!), and buy some big 4 ring folders, a hole puncher, plastic pockets, and some 12 tab dividers.

4 rings folders because if you get a 2 or 3 ring folder, I doubt that it will be strong enough. And why 12 tab dividers? Because there are 12 weeks of uni! The only brand that I’m aware of that makes 12 tab dividers is Marbig (Big W sells them!). Plastic pockets are handy for those loose sheets of paper that you don’t know what to do with!

So what I would do is print out my lecture notes, punch holes, and file them in the week that the lecture was given.

2) Note taking on the computer

Me, being the environmentalist activist, decided to try bringing my laptop into uni and typing up my notes straight onto the lecture pdfs instead of killing another 1000 trees. And it worked really well for me because it was easy to organise the notes!

This is an example of  how I organise my lectures notes on my laptop. (If you’re curious, this was for BIOL10004).

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 6.38.49 PMSo I would have a folder named ‘BIOL10005’ on my desktop. Then I would have sub-folders for lectures notes/online recordings/worksheets/exams etc. For lecture notes, I would divide them up to the weeks (we have 12 weeks of uni), then save the pdfs to the folder.

And how do you write notes onto the pdf you ask?

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 6.41.01 PMIf you have a pdf file, click on the the 3rd button to your left (see 1). Then a drop down menu will appear (see 3), and click on ‘add text’. Then the little bar will pop up (see 4).

You can also highlight texts, and make little comments (see 2).

Sorry the numbering is a bit out of sync!

Another thing! Here is how I take notes during tutes.

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 7.27.02 PM

I only found that you can do this on Microsoft Word late semester 2! So if you open up Microsoft Word, and click the last tab on the bottom left (see 1). This notebook format opens up! You can also record by clicking on the red circle button (see 2). And you can create new tabs for each tute on your bottom right (see 3).

Pretty cool hey!?

Also! I’ve had a number of questions about laptop charging! There are secure laptop charging lockers in union house (read more here), and I would always just charge my laptop during tutorials or during my lunch break.

3) A combination of both!

After testing both note taking styles in first year, I will be trialing out something new this year! So what I will be trying, is to take all my lecture and tutorial notes on my computer, AND keeping a notebook with handwritten notes as well. With the notebook, I will be integrating all the lecture/tutorial/readings together. So I won’t be re-writing out lecture notes, but I will be creating ‘master’ notes, and putting everything into my own words. (I hope this makes sense!)

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of trial and error, and testing out to see what suits you!

Do you have a different way of organising your lecture notes, or any other tips? I would love to hear from you!

Hope this post helps you!


12 thoughts on “How do I organise my notes for Uni?

  1. Thanks so much for this post Daph! Also, I’m so jealous with your Microsoft Word notebook layout :D Unfortunately, I can’t afford a Mac, too pricey for me :(

    1. No worries at all Sean!

      Awww…honestly, the other basic computers out on the market have almost the same functionality as a mac!

      Hope you’re having a good first day of uni!

  2. I would love to take note on my laptop but my laptop is soooo heavy. I tried bringing it to school the other day and it almost killed my shoulders… An iPad would be nice, but it’s so expensive for me :(

    1. Haha, that’s how you get fit! From carrying all your things around campus :)

      Most of the time I’ll be carrying my laptop or textbook in my hands because it does cause a bit of damage to the shoulders! :(


  3. Taking notes using laptop would be really cool. Like you get this professional feeling when ur sitting in the lecture with a laptop. But my laptop is too heavy to carry around. I felt so sorry for my shoulders the other day when I tried bringing it to uni. And it couldnt even connect to UniWireless because of win 8’s adapter problem of some sort … (The guy at IT help desk said so)
    So… I guess I have to apologise to the trees :(

    1. Hi phamtantan! Thanks for following my blog!

      R.I.P trees. But you gotta do, what you gotta do!

      That’s strange that you can’t connect to the Internet on your laptop. Hopefully IT can fix that for you one day.

      Good luck with your studies!

  4. Stubbled across this blog procrastinating for my vce exams atm, dreaming about uni life next year… and must I say thank you for the organisation tips! Its really daunting thinking about how I’m going to study next year, this blog has already given me some ideas! Thanks so much, now back to study!

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