Notetaking and Abbreviations

Notetaking and Abbreviations

I know you have not forgotten the importance of taking notes.

Taking notes is essential to fully learning the material you are studying; however, many students have difficulty because notetaking can be time-consuming.

Also, trying to take notes during a lecture is a challenge when a lot of material is being covered. In fact, taking notes from reading texts can pose the same problem. There just seems to be too much to do, and the task is overwhelming.

Don’t forget to check out some of my other blogs and videos on notetaking. Here is one:

One way to help you take a larger volume of notes in a shorter period of time is to use abbreviations or shortcuts.

One note of caution is to make sure that you know the abbreviations you are going to use. Weeks or months later, you will need to be able to read your notes without hesitation. Alternatively, you can create a legend for yourself so that you can look up any short forms that you used in your notes. Once you have been using them for a while, you won’t require the legend any longer unless you add new ones.

 BoxA legend is especially useful if you are taking a new course with uncommon terms. You will want to make up some new shortcuts for yourself. Only do this for terms that are used often, however. It doesn’t save you any time if you have to keep looking up abbreviations for words that are rarely used.

There are some common notetaking abbreviations that many people use. I have provided a short list.

Abbreviation               Meaning

e.g.                               for example (exampli gratia)

i.e.                                 that is (in other words, id est)

etc.                                and so on (et cetera)

B/c                                 because

n.b.                                note well (nota bene)

approx.                          approximately

est.                                established

imp.                               important

lang.                              language

max / min                     maximum / minimum

q / a                              question / answer

V                                  very

w                                  with

w/o                               without

There are many words that you can abbreviate by simply using the beginning of the word or the beginning and final letter.

gov.                               government

info.                               information

subj.                               subject

intro.                              introduction

apt.                                appointment

apt.                                apartment

temp.                             temperature

There are many symbols you can use. Don’t be afraid to use symbols from another subject in your current studies. For example, I am sure you are familiar with the equal sign which can be used in any course.


=                                    equal to, the same as

≠                                    not equal to, is not

≈                                    approximately

∴                                   therefore

“ “                                  same as above

& or +                            and

#                                    number

@                                    at

Arrows can be used to show increases ↑ decreases ↓ or when one event leads to another →.


Long form:

When inflation increases, one’s purchasing power decreases leading to less economic growth.

Short form:

When inflation ↑ one’s purchasing power ↓ → less econ. growth.

Most people use a lot of abbreviations texting on their smartphones. You can use many of the texting shortcuts that you use every day for your notes or for a brief commentary on your notes to help you find details quickly.

Having said all this, I must provide one more note of caution. Do not use these symbols and abbreviations when writing academic papers to be turned in. There are times when the occasional abbreviation is acceptable, but use abbreviations sparingly if at all.  

You need to use more formal language for book reports, speeches, and essays!

The next time you are taking notes, try introducing some of these abbreviations to help speed up the process without losing any of the meaning.

This week's video:

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