Do you need to organize the notes you took earlier in class, or maybe you want to try a more efficient way to take notes?

The charting note-taking method will help you reduce your notes to a minimum and make efficient comparisons of different topics and ideas, enabling you to learn information faster.

The Charting Method of notetaking is a structured technique that involves creating visual representations, often in the form of tables or charts, to organize and condense information.

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Before You Start

The charting method is best for:

  • Factual or statistical information

  • Side-by-side comparison and analysis of information

  • Simplification and organization of notes for exam preparation or presentations

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Don't use the charting method for:

  • Large amounts of text or detailed explanations

  • Complex relationships between subtopics

  • Live and fast-paced lectures

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Which topic would be the LEAST appropriate to use the charting method for?

Step 1: Identify Categories and Topics

First, read over the notes you took during the class (or while watching the video/reading the coursebook), then determine the topics, subtopics, and categories.

The example below uses the North American population to illustrate how to "chart'' the information.

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What is the main topic of the material?

  • The North American population is the main topic.

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What are the subtopics?

  • Canada, the United States, and Mexico are the subtopics since they are countries within the North American continent.

Flaticon Icon What categories can be used to compare information between the subtopics?

  • The number of residents, average age, and size of household are examples of content that can be compared and analyzed under this specific subject.

Step 2: Create and Fill in the Chart

  1. Draw a chart on a sheet of paper or with Microsoft Word or Excel.

  2. Create columns for the categories

  3. Create rows for the subtopics.

  4. Add an extra column to the right for information that wouldn't fit in the other categories.

  5. Fill in the chart according to your categories and subtopics. Use abbreviations to reduce the notes to a minimum.

Chart has Canada, US, and Mexico on the left and total population, average age, and # of people per household across the top.

Step 3: Review to Memorize

The key is to revisit your chart as soon as you finish it. This makes it easier to memorize the information.

  • Read and review to make sure the information is accurate and clear

  • Adjust and refine if necessary

  • Recite the chart and memorize the content

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Take Action

A man writing notes on a small notepad.

Use the charting note-taking method for your next study session!


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