Reading and Note-taking

Welcome to our reading and note-taking guide. Here, you can find information on active reading, note-taking in shorthand, and interpreting journal articles.

Review our resource on successful reading strategies.


Active Reading

If you’ve ever relaxed at the end of the night by sitting down with one of your favourite novels, then you’ve read passively. Passive readers (or just readers) are motivated because a work is interesting to them. Active readers, on the other hand, take a more determined approach when they work through a text; they read to understand and absorb.

When reading actively, a student might take notes, jot down questions, and review what they learned.  

Review some simple active reading strategies. 


Annotating a text is the practice of making notes while you're reading to organize main ideas, key themes, questions that arise, and other important information. You may annotate a text using highlighters, sticky notes, tabs, online tools, or some combination of them. The goal is to keep track of key points and patterns that you notice, whether you're reading journal articles, lecture notes, or creative writing! 

Watch this video for an example of what annotating a novel could look like, or read more about creative ways to annotate texts.


Shorthand Note-taking

If you find it challenging to take lecture notes quickly, you’re not alone. Luckily, you can become a more efficient note-taker by using what is called “shorthand”. Shorthand is a method of note-taking that makes use of symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms to increase writing speed.

Developing Shorthand

As you become familiar with shorthand writing, you’ll likely begin to use your own methods and tricks. This is normal; what matters is that you understand it. All those things that are discouraged in academic writing—abbreviations, contractions, acronyms—are entirely on the table when you take notes in shorthand.

Teeline Shorthand

When using Teeline, keep only essential vowels and consonants, along with vowels at the beginning and end of words. Leave out consonants, double consonants, and unnecessary vowels. For example:

  • Shorthand > Shrthd

  • University > Unvsty


Abbreviations are shortened forms of words. When using shorthand, you might write “uni” instead of “university”.


Acronyms are abbreviations from the initial components of a word. For example, when texting, we sometimes write “BRB” instead of “be right back”.


When taking notes, it’s useful to represent words with images. For example, “at” can become @, “number” can become #, and “money” can be represented with $.

Graphic Organizers

Information can be presented in many ways. Most students are familiar with text-based representations of ideas, but did you know that complex principles can also be shown spatially? This sort of format is especially useful to visual learners.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Doodling as you take notes
  • Using a Venn Diagram to compare
  • Using a Timeline to show historical change
  • Prioritizing principles with a pyramid

Collection of graphic organizer templates

Collection of interactive graphic organizers

Reading Journal Articles

This presentation provides information about reading journal articles.

reading journal articles slide presentation image and link