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  • Letter Writing

How to Write a Note

Last Updated: August 15, 2023

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 16 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 72,876 times. Learn more...

A note can be defined as a few different things, but most importantly, it can be a short, informal letter, or it can be a short record of something that is written down to help jog the memory later. [1] X Research source Notes and letters are easily confused, because of the fact that a note is considered an informal letter. However, there are distinct differences between the two, including how they are written.

Writing Notes to Yourself

Image titled Write a Note Step 1

  • You could choose the traditional pen-and-paper method: Options here include sticky notes, a small notepad, an agenda, a journal, a diary, or a spiral-bound notebook.
  • Alternatively, you could choose a technological method: You can try the Sticky Notes program on Windows, a notepad app on your smartphone, a reminder app on your smartphone, or your preferred online calendar, such as Google Calendar or iCal.

Image titled Write a Note Step 2

  • When you need a particular note to help you remember something, you will likely have no idea where it is if you use sticky notes, a calendar, a journal, and an app on your smartphone, as an example.
  • There is no way to organize your notes to yourself when you use many different systems. You might have the urge to write something down when it is inconvenient to do so using the system you normally use for that type of thought (e.g. you always write recipe ideas down in your journal, but you get an idea when you are not at home).
  • Your reminders and notes are simply more likely to get lost when lots of systems are involved. That may not always mean physically lost; it could also mean mentally lost (i.e. forgotten).

Image titled Write a Note Step 3

  • When the urge strikes to write down a note to yourself, you have the tool you need to do so handy.
  • Your notes will stay organized all in one place if you always have that tool with you.

Image titled Write a Note Step 4

  • Writing it down immediately ensures you will not lose that thought.
  • If you chose an option like sticky notes, be sure that you keep the sticky note in a safe place until you can put it wherever you choose to safely store them, if you are not near that place.
  • You do not necessarily need to use complete sentences when writing a note, as long as you are confident that you will know what you meant when you come back to look at it later.

Image titled Write a Note Step 5

  • If you keep notes to yourself on your smartphone or computer, they will always be there. However, if you choose to use a word processing program for writing notes to yourself, remember to save the documents.
  • You might want to keep all of your notes to yourself in something like a journal or diary. Always have that with you or know where it is so that you can access it when you need it.
  • Keeping your notes on or near your desk is usually a pretty good idea, as that is one place you likely spend much of your day.
  • Sticky notes work really well for some people, but they get messy quick. They also lose their stickiness eventually, causing them to fall from wherever you stuck them and potentially get lost. Keep this in mind if you use sticky notes!

Writing Notes to Someone Else

Image titled Write a Note Step 6

  • Using a technological tool for leaving notes likely will not work when trying to leave a note for someone else, so it is best to choose a pen-and-paper method.
  • Always have something ready for writing notes, like a small notepad, sticky notes, or some scrap paper.

Image titled Write a Note Step 7

  • Keep it short and simple. It does not necessarily have to be written in complete sentences, but make sure the recipient will understand what it means.
  • Avoid getting off-topic, especially if it is a reminder note. The recipient may get confused about what you are asking him/her to do if you get off-topic.
  • Adding a time and/or date to the note will help if it is time-sensitive. This will help the recipient understand when you left the note and how much time he/she has remaining to take care of the task.

Image titled Write a Note Step 8

  • On the refrigerator or freezer door
  • On the kitchen counter
  • On the dining table
  • On the bathroom counter
  • In his/her lunchbox
  • On his/her desk
  • On the seat of his/her car

Image titled Write a Note Step 9

  • If he/she follows up with you first, then there is no need to ask about it again, unless you asked him/her to complete some sort of task that you want to ensure got completed.
  • Be polite and friendly without being pushy. Asking, “Did you see my note this morning? I hope I left it in a convenient place for you” or “Do you have any questions about my note?” are some examples.

Writing a Sympathy Note

Image titled Write a Note Step 10

  • Because it is a card for a sympathy note, it should be somewhat professional and serious in appearance. Humorous cards are not appropriate here.
  • Your card can be small or large; your note will only be a couple of sentences, so make sure it is at least big enough to fit those.
  • You might want a blank card to write your own note. However, you can buy a card with a message printed in it and add to it with your own note, too.

Image titled Write a Note Step 11

  • Dear _______,
  • Hello ________,
  • Hi ________,

Image titled Write a Note Step 12

  • January 1, 2015
  • 1 January 2015

Image titled Write a Note Step 13

  • “I am sorry for your loss. I send my condolences to you and your family in this difficult time.”
  • “I want you to know that I am thinking about you while you work through this challenging time. Please let me know what I can do to help you.”
  • “I know that this was unexpected, and I am here for you however you need me.”
  • “You might not feel like it right now, but you are strong, and you will get through this.”
  • “You are not alone. You have many relatives and friends who are ready to support you and help you get through this.”

Image titled Write a Note Step 14

  • Love, ________
  • With love, ________
  • Your friend, ________
  • Sincerely, ________
  • Warmly, ________

Image titled Write a Note Step 15

Writing a Celebratory Note

Image titled Write a Note Step 16

  • Feel free to make your card bright and exciting, as you are celebrating something with this note.
  • Your message, or the message printed on the card you buy, might be humorous, serious, or uplifting. It is your choice.

Image titled Write a Note Step 17

  • Hey ________,
  • You might also simply write the recipient's name followed by a comma.

Image titled Write a Note Step 18

  • “Happy birthday! I hope you have a fantastic day filled with happiness and love.”
  • “Congratulations on the promotion! You will do an excellent job in your new role.”
  • “Congrats on graduating! All of your hard work has paid off. Welcome to the real world!”
  • “You should be so proud! Buying your first home is a major accomplishment. I can't wait to visit!”
  • “Congratulations on your little bundle of joy! I hope baby and parents are doing well, and I'm looking forward to meeting him/her!”

Image titled Write a Note Step 20

  • Best wishes, ________

Image titled Write a Note Step 21

Sympathy and Celebratory Note Templates

short note writing format

Expert Q&A

  • Keep the note short, even if it is a note to someone else. Notes are meant to convey quick thoughts and should not be long. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Write legibly. This is not so important with a note to yourself, as you will likely be able to decipher your own handwriting. However, when writing a note to someone else, you want to be sure to write clearly enough for the recipient to read it easily. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

short note writing format

You Might Also Like

Write a Thank You Note

  • ↑ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/note?s=t
  • ↑ https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/etiquette/the-art-of-letter-writing-the-sympathy-note/
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/congratulations-note-and-email-examples

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Note-Taking Icon

How To Take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Methods

Close up of students taking notes in class

If your in-class notes are messy, unorganized, and unclear at first glance, you’re not going to get much use out of them. This has nothing to do with how neat your handwriting is — it’s all about how your notes are structured.

One of the most effective ways to remember (and understand) what you are learning in class is to take effective notes in the classroom.

Why Are Effective Note Taking Skills Important?

Better notes will help you remember concepts, develop meaningful learning skills, and gain a better understanding of a topic. Effective notes will even lead to less stress when test time comes around!

Learning how to take better study notes in class helps improve recall and understanding of what you are learning because it:

  • Ensures you are actively listening to what the teacher is saying
  • Requires you to think about what you are writing
  • Helps you make connections between topics
  • Serves as quality review material for after class

Using different note taking strategies is important, especially as you progress through high school and transition to college or university. There are several note taking techniques you can use to start taking better notes in class.

Start taking better study notes

Get more out of your study sessions with the complete study toolkit including note taking templates, tips, and more.

Try these 5 methods to find the best note taking method for you!

The cornell method.

The Cornell note taking method helps organize class notes into easily digestible summaries. This method is effective because the main points, details, study cues, and summary are all written in one place.


  • Notes are neatly organized, summarized, and easy to review
  • Allows you to pull out major ideas and concepts

What Does it look like?

The paper is divided into 3 sections: a 2.5” margin to the left, a 2” summary section on the bottom, and a main 6” in-class note section.

  • Use the main notes section to take notes during class.
  • Use the cues section to review your notes. After class, write down things you’ll need to remember and a prompt for each. You can also use this section for vocabulary words and study questions.
  • In the summary segment at the bottom, write a summary of your notes. This is where you will highlight the main points.

Example page setup for the Cornell Note Taking Method

The Mapping Method

The Mapping note taking method is a more visual way to organize your class notes. This technique is useful when learning about relationships between topics.

  • Useful for visual learners who struggle with studying from notes.
  • Helps you remember and connect relationships between topics.

The page is organized by topic. The main topics branch out into subtopics with detailed information about each.

How Do You Use It?

  • While in class, begin the map with the main topic.
  • Branching off the main topic, write a heading for each of the subtopics.
  • Write any important notes underneath each subtopic.
  • Continue the pattern.

Example page set up for the Mapping note taking method

The Outlining Method

The Outlining note taking method uses headings and bullet points to organize topics. This method is most useful when learning about topics that include a lot of detail.

  • Allows notes to be neatly organized.
  • It is easy to see the relationship between topics and subtopics.
  • It is easy to turn points into study questions.

Each section starts with a heading of the main topic. Each subtopic and supporting fact is written underneath the proper heading.

  • During a lesson, begin your notes with a single bullet point and write the main topic.
  • Place the first subtopic below and indented slightly to the right.
  • List any details below your heading and slightly to the right.

Example page set up for the Outlining note taking method

The Charting Method

Charting note taking method uses columns to organize information. This method is useful for lessons that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics.

  • Facts are organized and easy to review.
  • Highlights key pieces of information for each topic.

The page is divided into columns labeled by category. The details of each category are filled out in the rows below.

  • When information about a category is mentioned, jot it down underneath the proper column.
  • When the next topic begins move down one row and begin again.

Example page setup for the Charting note taking method

The Sentence Method

The Sentence note taking method is simply writing down each topic as a jot note sentence. This method works well for fast paced lessons where a lot of information is being covered.

  • Jotting main points helps you determine which information is important and which is not.
  • You are able to cover a lot of details and information quickly.
  • Notes are simplified for study and review.

Each line on the page is a new and separate topic. To organize your notes even more, you can use headings for each main topic.

  • Write down important information the teacher has emphasized. This can be in sentence form or point form.
  • Start a new sentence or point for each new detail.
  • Use headings to organize points by main topics.

Example page set up for the Sentence note taking method

Better Grades Start With Better Notes

Taking organized and thoughtful notes can help improve your understanding and recall of what you have learned in class. Try these methods of note taking in your next classes and see which one works best for you!

Check out our video for more tips on how to boost note-taking confidence.

To learn other ways to make school a breeze, visit the resource section or learn how Oxford Learning’s tutoring programs can help you build skills to become a better learner.

Tips & Activities To Improve Your Child’s Active Listening Skills

How to study effectively: 12 secrets for success, related note-taking resources.

Easy Ways to Take Better Study Notes


Easy ways to take better study notes.

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How to take effective study notes based on your learning style, find an oxford learning ® location near you, we have over 100 centres across canada.


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