This is the method I use for taking notes from lectures in medical school. Why do I take notes using a combination of PowerPoint slides and Microsoft OneNote?
- Ease of organization. As you’ll see below, I open OneNote and all my notes are inside, easily accessible by tabs.
- Automatic save. OneNote saves continuously and saving it to my Dropbox means I never have to worry about losing my notes.
- Typing is faster than writing. If I want to annotate the PowerPoint slides, I just click in OneNote and start typing. I can also highlight or draw on the slides easily.
- Searchable notes. Everything in the PowerPoint slides and everything I type is searchable, meaning I can easily find every lecture that contains a certain keyword.
Here is a simple guide to using OneNote and PowerPoint to take excellent notes.
Note: This is shown using Office 2010, but similar steps can be taken with the 2007 version.
1. Open Microsoft OneNote and create a New Notebook. Go to File in the left upper corner and click New. You can name it whatever you like- my notebook for medical school notes is creatively titled “Medical School.” A tab will show up on the left side with your new notebook after you click Create Notebook.
2. A new Section has already been created for you. These are the tabs at the top of the page. Right click and change the name of the section to whatever you like. I separate my courses by section, so my course name goes here (for example “Anatomy” or “Infectious Disease”).
3. Open up a PowerPoint presentation from your class.
4. This is the KEY POINT. Go to File: Print. Change the printer to Send to OneNote 2010.
5. Change how the slides are printed to your preference. I usually print 2 slide handouts making them a little smaller when they show up in OneNote.
6. Click Print.
7. Maximize the OneNote window. A popup will appear asking you where you want the printout. Here is what it should look like:
8. Choose the section you just created for your course and click OK. In the case above, I would click ID (Current Section).
9. After a few moments the PowerPoint is printed to a new Page. Title the page by selecting the Oval/Rectangular area in the left upper corner. I title each page with the course, lecture number and lecture title. For example “ID 12 Enteric Infections”.
10. You’re done! You can repeat steps 3-9 for each PowerPoint lecture and create new sections for different courses.
You know have a powerful method to organize all your PowerPoint lectures and notes on those lectures in one place. Here is a screenshot of what my OneNote program looks like now:
Each Notebook is on the left side, each Section at the top (IPE, ACS and ID) and each Page on the right. You can see how easily I can click through each lecture, and then scroll down to review it. When I am in class I can double click anywhere on the page and type notes. You can also add draw and highlight buttons.
And that is how I take notes in med school!
Please tell me if I can clarify any of the steps above. Also, if you end up trying this system, let me know how it works!