10 Tips for Taking Notes
On my job, part of my responsibility is doing transcription. Often I attend scientific meetings and have to [take notes]. The notes/minutes are written as indirect quotes. Can you please give some guidance on taking meeting notes and minutes?
The purpose of taking minutes at a meeting is to create a record that can be used later to verify what took place. Minutes need to be accurate, but they don’t need to be lengthy.
My suggestions are based on the idea that the notes are going to be handwritten.
1. Keep your notes together.
Use a bound notebook like a school composition book. Loose sheets of paper are easy to lose and it’s easy to tear out the wrong page in a spiral notebook.
2. Have more than one pen or pencil with you.
3. Sit close to the podium or wherever most of the speaking will take place.
4. Have a clear idea of what you plan to do with the notes you’re taking.
The purpose of a conference-goer is not the same as that of a club secretary.
5. Take advantage of the kindness of others.
For example, if you’re taking notes for a club or a business meeting, pass around a sheet for attendance. Ask officers and members to give you copies of their reports and motions.
6. Follow the agenda.
Begin by noting the place of the meeting and the time at which it begins. Take things down as they happen. You can always rearrange things in a more logical order when you type up your notes.
7. Write down the exact words for motions.
8. Write legibly.
Write as fast as you can, but don’t scribble. If you don’t know shorthand, you’ll need to use your own symbols and abbreviations. Don’t be too creative. What you meant by AGMP may not be so obvious the day after the meeting.
9. Be accurate.
Spell everyone’s name correctly. If you’re taking notes in a chemistry course, you’d better get the names of the chemicals right. If necessary, buttonhole people after the meeting to double check on anything you’re not sure of.
10. Type up your notes as soon as possible after the meeting.
Cold notes are hard to decipher. Type them up the same day if possible.
Bonus tip from Sharon in a previous DWT post.
Here are some web sources that go into the subject in more detail:
Subscribe and Get a Free eBook: 100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid
- The subscription is completely free, and we only send out one email per week, on Tuesdays
- Our emails are fun and educating and will help you improve your writing skills
- You can unsubscribe anytime you want and keep the e-book as a gift