How I Color Code My Notes

A few of you have requested a post about how I color code my notes! So I’m happy to share that today! 

One thing I will remind you of is please don’t try to do this IN class! You will get frustrated and you WILL mess up! 

Take sloppy notes in class and rewrite them into pretty, colorful notes later! 

Those pretty, colorful notes are the ones you will use to study before a test or reference while writing a paper! 🙂 

Ok, so here is the system I use. I’ve been using this same color-coding system since my  sophomore year of college and it has worked perfectly for me! In fact, I still use it today in my classroom to color code our subjects and schedule! But that’s a post for a different day 🙂 

Pink | Headers/Major Points
Because I’m drawn more to the colors at the end of the rainbow (Pink! Purple! Blue!), I do all my color-coding treating pink like it’s the top dog color (which it is, as far as I’m concerned). I actually remember the day I came up with this system. 

I made a mark on my paper with every color pen I had, then I checked to see which one grabbed my attention the most quickly. Pink was the winner (pink is always the winner, amiright?), so that’s why I use pink for headers! Use whatever catches your attention!

Purple | Sub Headers/Keywords
Any major information that you need to go under the header will go here. It can be the first thing your professor mentions about that particular topic, it can be keywords you make up to trigger your memory, or it can be a quick and broad sentence explaining the header. 

Basically, it’s just a little more explanation to assist you in making sense of the header. 

4 Tips for Taking Better Class Notes

Blue | Bullet Points
Pretty straight-forward. I always prefer bullet points to sentences. Even when I’m typing up information to give to my parents at school, I very rarely type information in paragraphs. Is it because I don’t think they’re smart? Nope! It’s because I’ve researched how people read. 

And research shows that “a few tiny dots attract the eye and can make a complex concept understandable.” In fact, only 57% of people read the content in paragraphs. Bottom Line: Don’t write paragraphs in your notes… You’ll probably never go back to read them!

Speaking of reading paragraphs, are you reading your textbooks correctly?

Green | Vocabulary 
Depending on your major, you may have some crazy-ridiculous vocabulary terms. I like to write my new vocabulary words in green and all the way to the left side of the paper (in the margin) to make them easier to find! 

Be sure to write a definition that makes sense to YOU, not just the definition from your textbook (because, if it’s a new concept, that can sound just as confusing as the word itself)! Make any sort of connection you can! Do you need help with that? 

Check out this post on putting notes in your own words! 

Orange | Examples
Finally, the examples. Good teachers and professors come up with memorable examples. In fact, I’ve had some professors who have told such funny stories that I started laughing when I saw the vocabulary word on the test! 

Examples of your topic in real life will make all the difference, so do whatever it takes to find good ones and remember them! I also like to draw little pictures to break up the text of my notes 🙂 Want to know more about that? Check out this guide to taking visual notes!

Hopefully, that makes my color-coding system a little easier to understand! If you’re interested in seeing a more in-depth explanation, check out my Note Formatting Resource, where I break it down even more! 

Now that you’ve got these beautiful notes, let’s organize them so they’re easier to study! 🙂

How do you color code your notes? Have you used the same system for a long time? Or are you just starting a new system? Share your process below!

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