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Style Guides - Citation Resources: Take Good Notes

Take Good Notes

Effective note-taking can:

  • Ensure the accuracy of direct quotes and citations you use in your writing
  • Improve your paraphrases of other people's ideas
  • Help you develop and organize your own original ideas
  • Lessen the risk that you will commit unintentional plagiarism


Note-taking Tips

1. When taking notes, do not copy words directly from a source unless you intend to quote that source.

  • Instead, read carefully, think and then write the main ideas into your own words to paraphrase the source.
  • Once you've rewritten the main ideas into your own words, be sure to note the source of the ideas. Remember: you still need to provide a proper citation when you paraphrase the work of others.
  • By taking this step in your research notes instead of paraphrasing directly from a source into your draft, you provide yourself with the time and space to think about the main ideas separately from the writing process.
  • In your notes, consider using different coloured pens or different coloured fonts to identify your words and paraphrases separately from the words of the authors you're reading.

2. When taking notes from a source that you intend to quote directly, the first thing you should do is include the citation information for the source in your notes.

  • By including the source information directly next to the text, you provide yourself with a visual cue that you've copied the words verbatim.
  • In your notes, be certain to include quotation marks when you've copied text directly from a soruce to ensure you'll incorporate those words as a direct quotation in your own work.

3. When collecting notes from different works written by different authors, draw lines in between notes pertaining to different sources. 

  • This delineation will remind you that you need to provide a new citation for each source.
  • When you're collecting notes electronically in a Word document from other sources of online information, avoid too much cutting-and-pasting, which can lead to unintentional plagiarism as you collect information without paraphrasing, identifying authors, or including citation information.


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