Better Note-Taking on Screen

Understanding course readings can be challenging, especially when you are unfamiliar with the topics and terms. Learning to take effective notes that draw from lectures and other scholarly materials can help structure your thoughts and make sense of your readings.

Explore the presentations below to learn how to build your own note-taking system for online journal articles and e-books.


Developing your own colour-coding systems will help you:

  • Discern how authors analyze existing information and construct new knowledge
  • Make connections between the readings and course objectives
  • Use readings and other library sources to develop your own arguments

Better Note-Taking on Screen: Three Colours

Even a simple three-colour system can help structure your understanding of course readings and refer back to lectures.

The original text is from:
Noble David Cook, “The Columbian Exchange,” in The Cambridge World History Volume 6: The Construction of a Global World, 1400–1800 CE, Part 2: Patterns of Change, edited by Jerry H. Bentley, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 103-110.

Better Note-Taking on Screen: Five Colours

You can use additional colours to capture a complex close reading of course materials.

Original text:
Erika Doss, Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 17-23, 377-379.

Tips for Critical Reading

Learning to take better notes on screen will also enhance your critical reading skills. Explore this presentation for some tips to get started.

Original texts:
Stefano Recchia, "Should Humanitarian Interveners Promote Democracy after Genocide?," International Theory 10, no. 1
(January 2018): 1-5, 19, 24-15,
Deborah Knott, "Critical Reading Towards Critical Writing,” in Writing Advice, University of Toronto, February 1, 2001.

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If you have questions about these presentations, please contact Yayo Umetsubo, Scholarly Communications and Liaison Librarian at