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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Writing and Note-Taking Tools


A critical part of writing is taking notes. There are very many ways of doing this. 


  • Use slips of scrap paper or 3 x 5 cards.. These tend to accumulate, though, and are not searchable in the way a writing platform is. 
  • A print notebook can be good for capturing ideas that arise spontaneously, for example when you are waiting somewhere, but then you have to transcribe them. Minimally though a print notebook is a good place to brainstorm. 


  • You can create a section of your document just for notes or you can pepper the notes throughout your document at appropriate places. This may fragment the writing, but if does, try color coding your notes to help you distinguish your manuscript text from notes that you may later incorporate into that text..
  • You can create a separate using your writing platform. Try using headers and navigate features to label and keep track of the various notes you keep. . 
  • Also, see what tracking or commenting features are available.
  • In Google suite, try Google Keep, usable from your phone or computer.
  • As you note-take, do not get sloppy: add quotation marks if your notes reproduce verbatim something you have read. Otherwise you may unintentionally plagiarize. 


  • Use the feature in Google docs enables voice to text ("voice typing"); this is useful when you want to record ideas as you read a text.
  • Use the commenting features that a pdf or ebook reader provides
  • Consider using Evernote for note-taking (as well as tasking and scheduling tasks)
  • Take notes within your chosen citation manager. See the library guides for RefWorks, the citation management software that Lehigh provides, by going to the library homepage and selecting "How to..."
  • You can try using Excel, but this can be unwieldy unless your notes are typically very brief. A spreadsheet can be helpful in tracking publication submissions.   

(Thanks to Yvonne Lee for suggestions.)