A Note on Taking Notes

I recently started a post-graduate degree in applied finance and have run into a problem - how to take notes effectively. Only after playing around with a number of combinations I think I have come to something pretty useful. Here are some main tips I am trying to make habit.

Preparation before class. I make sure I have all materials printed and bound in a folder. I then skim over materials to be covered in the session to come and if I do not understand something, I will place a question mark next to the item which is an alert to address in the lecture.

In Class. I bring my laptop and use Evernote to take the bulk of my notes. Evernote is great for quickly taking notes, attaching related documents and copy/pasting useful things from the internet. I also structure my note in sections relating to the each of the documents covered (slides, handouts, etc) and have a bullet point per slide/section and use an indented list to take notes within.

After Class. From the notes taken in Evernote and on the materials scribbled on class handouts, I start to rewrite my notes using LaTeX (through TeXnicCenter, you can use whichever compiler you wish). The reason for this is two fold. First is because I need to work through a lot of formulas and LaTeX does this really, really well. Second, the final PDF document it produces looks exceptionally clean and professional for the little effort required (once you learn how to use it). After completing the LaTeX type-up I save and print the final PDF and attach to the Evernote note itself. I then print the Evernote and add it to my folder with the lecture handouts in an orderly manner.

Required reading and example questions. For every topic there are required readings from a textbook of some sort. I use Evernote to take down some key themes and items which I think may be assessed. I use a pencil and notebook to work though examples and after completion, I take a picture on my phone and attach to an Evernote

The Final Product. After following these steps, you will have a neat and consolidated flow of documents in a binder. It is recommended to have a folder per topic/subject so at the end of the course you know where to look if you have to refer back to an original or compiled document.

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