Seven ways to make notes

1 - Prepare

Get an overview of complex topics through accessible sources e.g. video, TV, podcast, simpler book or discussion with friends.

2 - Read ‘actively’

3 - Strategies

  • SQ3R method.
  • Read in short bursts (stay focused).
  • Keep checking it makes sense.
  • Be prepared to read texts several times.

4 - Use technology

There are tools/apps for:

  • Reading text out loud.
  • Tinting the screen.
  • Changing font, spacing and size.
  • Learning to speed read.
  • Annotating texts.
  • Referencing.

5 - Take smarter notes

  • Re-format texts as bullet points, mind maps, diagrams or audio notes.
  • Make quotations stand out from your words.
  • Use abbreviations.
  • Make glossaries of new words.

Reading and Notemaking

  • 5 Active Reading Strategies

    5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments - College Info Geek

  • Link to Lifehack article
  • Image of the ATBar icons


    Free downloadable software to use in your browser, on a memory stick or in Windows. Use it to change font, font size or background colour. Read selected text out loud or look up words in the dictionary.

  • Link to Balabolka site


    Free downloadable text reader for PC.

  • Link to ClaroSpeak website


    Import or type text and hear it read out loud. Change voice, background colour, font and spacing (iOS - free).

  • Coogle

    Coggle is an online tool for creating and sharing mindmaps. It works online in your browser: there's nothing to download or install.

  • Cornell Notes

    Cornell Notes - Fillable Fields

    Free, downloadable Cornell Notes template - this pdf file can be edited so you can type in notes.

  • Image of DSpeech icon


    Free text reader which will read and save to different formats.

  • Evernote

    Organise notes into notebooks. Add images, sketches, lists and webclips. Access anywhere. Available across a range of platforms.

  • Image of Google Keep on a laptop and phone

    Google Keep

    Cross platform tool for capturing and sharing notes, lists, images and audio clips.

  • How to take notes in Class: 5 Best Methods

    YouTube Video explaining five different methods for taking notes in lectures (but can also apply to notes from reading).

  • Link to book in Library catalogue

    How to use your reading in your essays

    How to quote, paraphrase and summarise sources. Has real examples of students' writing and information about common errors.

  • Image of My Study Bar dashboard

    My Study Bar

    A set of freeware apps to help with reading, writing, planning and organisation. Comes with tutorials and can be run from a flash drive. PC only.

  • Image of Natural Reader instruction video

    Natural Reader Online

    Drag and drop or paste text into the box to hear it read out loud. Range of natural voices to choose from. Free version has basic features.

  • Link to Notability.


    Use Notability to take and organise notes. Can sketch ideas, annotate PDFs, mark-up photos, record lectures, record audio, add images and webclips. Note - has a cost (under £10). Detailed guide here.

  • Link to OneNote page


    Create notebooks, with multiple sections and multiple pages. Share and collaborate with others. Cross platform and mainly free. Click here to find out how it compares to Evernote.

  • Link to Outread app in iTunes


    Speed reading app for iOS (under £5).

  • Link to ReadAloud app


    ReadAloud works with Windows 10 to read text out loud. Upload Word or PDF files or paste in text. You can customise voice, font and colours.

  • Link to book in Library catalogue

    Reading and making notes

    Small, accessible book.

  • Link to University of Sheffield's Reading skills website

    Reading Skills

    Advice and interactive exercises from the University of Sheffield to improve reading skills.

  • Link to Rewordify website


    Free online tool which simpifies English. Go to Settings to customise.

  • Link to Speed Reader in Google Play

    Speed Reader

    Speed reading app for Android (free).

  • Link to Spreeder website


    Free online tool to help you develop your reading speed.

  • Link to library catalogue for Study Skills Handbook

    Study Skills Handbook

    The 'go-to' study skills book for new students with (or without) dyslexia.

  • Link to NaturalReader app in Google Play store

    Text to Speech - NaturalReader

    Text reading app for Android (free).