Reading and lectures

Getting the most out of lectures

Getting the most out of lectures is about more than effective note-taking. It’s also good to practise active listening and be prepared to review your notes.

Effective reading techniques

Tackle your course reading. Read more strategically, actively and critically.

Making notes from reading

Why and how we make notes. Including lots of examples and tools

Seven ways to make notes

There are many different ways to make notes. Some are better suited to taking notes in lectures and some to making notes from reading. 

Technology for study

Software, apps, extensions and Library tools to help you study more effectively.

More information
Group of laptop users sitting at a table with only hands and devices visible
Top Tips


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

Read ‘actively’


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

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.

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.
Screenshot of Immersive Reader showing background colour and font options

Immersive Reader

Use Immersive Reader in Word, Outlook and OneNote to read text out loud, change the font, spacing and background colour and use a reading ruler. Watch the video to find out more.


Screenshot of Evernote Web Clipper showing editing pane for clipped section

Evernote Web Clipper

Saves bookmarks and websites to your Evernote folders. Works with Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge. Watch the Evernote video.

Screenshot of Selection Reader settings window

Selection Reader

Selection Reader is a simple Chrome extension which will read aloud any text you highlight in webpages when using the Chrome browser.

Writing annotated bibliographies

Useful guidance from the University of Leeds.

Reading Skills

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


Free online tool to help you develop your reading speed.


Speed reading app for iOS (under £5).

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.

41 of the best podcasts for curious minds

Great list of educational podcasts to aid research and broaden knowledge.

Reading and lectures

Take notes that help you learn