Skip to Main Content

Taking Notes

Taking Notes for Written Assignments

In this section, we'll talk about specific strategies you can use to help you take notes and stay organized while you're preparing to write an essay, term paper, or any other type of written assignment.

Depending on your assignment and the instructions from your professor, you may need to take notes from a variety of sources such as academic journal articles, articles from websites, encyclopedia entries, and more.

Taking notes for written assignments can be different from taking notes to help you study for exams or tests—you'll need to have a research question in mind to guide your reading, and you'll need to keep track of which sources you've used so you can write accurate citations.

Before You Get Started

To take effective notes, you need to know what information you're looking for before you get started.

Having a general question is good place to start—but having a research question will let you find information to answer a specific question.

Watch the video below and checking out the Academic Research Guide for more information about the research process.


Once you've chosen your topic or research question, your next step will be to track down your sources.

Check out the General Research guide at the Library to


After you find some great sources, you'll need to take notes and remember where you found the original information and ideas.

You'll need to include this information about the source by citing it, using the citation style your professor has assigned.

To make sure you have all the information you need to create a complete citation later on, you'll need to write down (at least) the following:

  • Author names(s).
  • Title.
  • Page numbers (if applicable).

You'll need more information to write your complete citation, but these three items will help you get started and make it easier for you to track down the rest of the details later.

Check out the Library's Citation Guide to learn more about writing citations.