Skip to Main Content

Online Learning Resource: Digital Note-making

Online Learning Resource home


Taking notes effectively

Effective note-making is an important skill to get right at university. You’ll be taking in a lot of new knowledge and it’s vital that you can record and retrieve what you have learned. Note-making is also a learning process in itself, helping you to understand and digest the new content. 

Tips for taking notes in an online synchronous (live) lecture 

•    Before the lecture, have a look at the learning objectives that have been provided. What is the lecture going to cover? This should help you decide which key themes and ideas you should be capturing.

•    Do no write everything down verbatim. Listen out for cues given by the lecturer. E.g. “We’re now going to look at 3 main arguments…” or “This is an essential process…” This should help you to capture the most important information.

•    Don’t worry about copying down everything that is included in a PowerPoint presentation. You can review the slides in more detail after the lecture. If the slides are provided in advance, try annotating them during the lecture as a means of keeping notes. 

•    You might find it beneficial to split your screen so that you can take digital notes and watch the lecture at the same time. 

•    Find a method of note-taking that helps you to organise the content. Use headings, bullet points, diagrams, highlighting, post-it notes and annotations.

•    If there is something you don’t understand or you feel like you’ve missed something, don’t panic. Simply make a note to return to it. Lectures are recorded so you can return to the right section afterwards.

•    Make sure you review your notes as soon as you can after the lecture. Try and summarise what was covered. This helps the content to sink in as well as help identify relevant content when revising. 

For more detailed information on using lecture capture to support your learning visit the Lecture Capture Student Study Guide.

Digital vs. paper

There are now lots of options for taking notes digitally rather than by hand. However, it’s worth considering which method is best for your purpose.

Digital notes

Using a digital tool allows you to edit your notes more easily, move information around and share content with others.

Physical notes

Writing notes by hand gives you more flexibility to be creative on the page. There is also evidence that written notes involves more active engagement and hence increases retention of information. You might find this beneficial when taking notes from books/articles or when revising.


Digital note-making apps

There are many advantages in making your notes digitally rather than the traditional handwritten way.  Digital note making apps allow you to create, organise and share your notes, making it easy to collaborate with others. Some of the more popular apps for note making are OneNote, Google Keep and Evernote.

Microsoft Onenote logo
Microsoft OneNote is available to you through Microsoft 365. It is a digital notebook that provides a single place where you can gather all of your notes and information, with the added benefits of powerful search capabilities to find what you are looking for quickly, plus easy-to-use shared notebooks so you can manage information overload and work together with others more effectively.  You can create your notes using text, images, drawings, handwriting, web clippings, emails, audio clips and files.  
If you store your notebooks on OneDrive, you can access them across all of your devices. Your notes will automatically sync when you have an internet connection.  Notebooks stored on OneDrive can also be shared with others and you can work on them simultaneously.


Evernote logo
Evernote allows you to create a note which can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, and exported as part of a notebook.

Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including Mac, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Microsoft Windows) and also offers online synchronisation and backup services.

Evernote is available in a paid version or a more restricted free version. Use of the online service is free up to a certain monthly usage limit, with additional monthly use reserved for Plus subscribers, and unlimited monthly use for Premium customers.


See our LinkedIn Learning collection 'Digital note taking with OneNote and Evernote

Being a Digital Student   Learning Online   Time Management   Further Support

Accessibility statement