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COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES- I ENGLISH WRITING 30. TAKING NOTES WHILE READING This is the sixth lesson under the fifth unit where you will be working on Writing Skills with specific reference to making notes while reading the text i.e. from a written passage/article (unlike spoken text in the previous lesson). This lesson moves forward from the previous lessons in this unit where there was a focus on writing skills with reference to sentences, paragraphs/essays and note taking while listening to someone talk at a meeting. In this lesson skills of a different kind on jotting of notes, will be discussed. ___________________________________________________________________

30.0 Objectives By the end of this unit you will: i. ii. iii.

sharpen your Reading and Comprehension skills develop the capacity to look for important or key ideas in written matter distinguish between Relevant Information and Subsidiary Details i.e. learn to focus on the main essence of the material you read iv. make notes from given text

30.1 Introduction Office management responsibilities could involve referencing texts and any kind of written material for use in communications, speeches, preparation of plans, documents etc. In such situations you would need to go through written text and make notes of important relevant points that could be used. The capacity to pick out only essential information would result in you saving time and also presenting the information in a nutshell to the reader. Your skill in this area would therefore be crucial. You will now learn the steps relating to preparations and the perception needed for making of notes while reading from the written text. You need to become more focused on paragraphs/segments/points that are really relevant and in the process sharpen your reading and comprehension skills. As you will learn in this lesson, reading with total concentration so that vital points are not overlooked, will be critical issues. Do pay careful attention to the methods and manner of preparedness for making notes, discussed in this lesson. It would be a good idea for you to actually practice the techniques you have learnt by going an article/report or something similar and making notes on the same. 1

30.2 Making Notes while reading Preparation for Making Notes 1. Choose a quiet work space: Working in an area with very few to no distractions, is ideal. If need be, tell others that you would like to be left alone to complete your task. 2. Get organized: Have your writing tools (pens, pencils, highlighters) ready BEFORE you begin to read; assign a separate notebook for each subject matter you will be working with; get your reading material together. Steps to Follow when Making Notes 1. Read a specific/predetermined section of your text 2. Read just enough to understand the material. (Do not take notes at this time. Just pay attention to the contents of the text so you may understand what is being said.) Note: It is not appropriate to take notes when reading the material for the first time. Much as you may be tempted to do so, refrain from making notes at this time. You will be able to better understand the contents if you focus on reading and comprehending at this stage. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Review the material. Identify the main ideas and the supporting details. Set the book aside Think about what was stated in the text. By setting the book aside, you will be able to identify what you understood and what you need clarified. Paraphrase this information- i.e. restate the information you have just learnt in your own words. This helps you really understand the material very well. 7. Write the ideas in your own words in your notebook. 8. (Remember not to copy information directly from the textbook. Add only enough details to understand and recall what were covered in the text.) 9. Write in point form. 10. Review, and compare your notes with the text. Add to your notes if you missed something important. 11. Make use of graphic organizers as you see fit. Sometimes making a graphic depiction of what is covered in the text is more effective than making notes on the topic. (Please study the segment ‘Using Graphic Organizers’ given at the end of this list of ‘Steps to Follow when Making Notes’ carefully.) 12. Reflect on what you have just done. Ask yourself if you truly understand the matter. 30.2.1 Using Graphic Organizers Given below are examples of some graphic organizers that have been taken from the Studies Guides and Strategies Website (


It shows the various steps followed by a student when making a graphic organizer based on what he/she has read about the Earth’s Water Cycle: Step One:

Step Two:


Step Three:

30.3 Tips to Keep in Mind when Making Notes 30.3.1 Remember to follow the steps given below for best results • • • • • • •

look for the printed matter that is bold the important sections are either printed in bold letters or in italics to draw attention give proper attention to main titles and subtitles the first and last paragraphs of a write-up often contain the theme if a summary of the write-up is available read it first look for illustrations wherever used deal with sections one by one and in a sequence form Do remember to practice making notes whenever you can.

30.3.2 How to make Notes 1. Use a jotting/note pad where you can jot down. 2. Create columns for major topics and concepts; underline or highlight the important points as it will be useful while reviewing what you have noted. 3. Be focused while reading the text and look for key words or phrases introducing an important point. 4. Highlighter pens and Post-it stickers will help you focus. 5. In a paragraph the main idea is often the first or last sentence. Note it down.


6. It is important to be selective. Do not write down everything. 7. If there are large portions that need to be noted verbatim, then photocopy. However prepare summary statements of important details. 8. Look for written illustrations of points. There may be two sides to a point. Find the supporting evidence. 9. Be involved in what you read. 10. Do not resort to making lengthy notes as an easy way out to understanding complex material. Instead mark it in the text and use appropriately when needed. 11. While making notes it may be a good idea sometimes to record information in your own words creating your own cues as they help you recollect important details. 12. Review your notes by reading the original text once again. This is a process of evaluation and encourages you to improve.

Self-Check Questions Give one line/short answers. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Which do you think is the ideal place to make notes? What kind of stationery will you keep ready for making notes? How can some kinds of written text be depicted effectively? While making notes one needs to write down everything. State whether True or False. 5. How can important sections in written text be identified? 6. What is the final important step to be followed after the completion of making notes?

30.4 Summing Up In this lesson you were taught strategies that would help you effectively take down notes while reading a text. You learnt that in order to do so you need to • • • • • • •

be focussed while reading be selective give priority to important ideas and issues look for supporting evidence or written illustrations for an important point create your own cues that will help you recollect review the notes by going back to the text once again remember that the use of graphic organizers simplifies and clarifies complex material; use them when needed


30.5 Answers to Self-Check Questions 1. A quiet work space with very few/no distractions, is ideal. If necessary you can ask to be left alone, undisturbed. 2. A jotting/note pad, Highlighter pens and Post-It stickers. 3. Some kinds of written text can be depicted effectively through Graphic Organizers that show important information in pictorial and box form and have arrows signifying the process/direction for easy understanding. 4. False – one needs to be selective. 5. The important sections are identified by a) print in bold letters or in italics, b) main titles and subtitles, c) illustrations and d) a summary if available. 6. The notes made should be reviewed by going back to the text once again.

30.6 References 1. Syamala, V. Effective English Communication for You. Chennai: Emerald Publishers, 2003. 2. Sharma, R C, and Krishna Mohan. Business Correspondence and Report Writing. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited, 2003. 3. Gilani, Archana, and Kaul, Mridula. & Suganthan Beena. The Grammar Tree India: Oxford University Press 2004 4. Ghosh, R N, K W Moody, and S R Inthira. A Course in Written English. New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training, 1988. 5. 6. 7.

30.7 Glossary (Please Note: The key words that were given in the earlier lesson are not covered in the list below. However, it is suggested that you review them since they are applicable to this lesson, too.) • • • • •


Concept: idea; thought; theory Focus: centre of attention Illustration: description; image; picture Summary: summing up; outline Verbatim: exactly; word for word