How to Take Notes on an Essay

Learning Objectives: Taking notes this way helps you:

  • Read like a Writer
  • Internalize Essay Structure
  • Practice the MOVES of Integrating Sources
  • Create a “backwards” outline of what the essay says/does
  • Invent for Essay Drafting (you can use your summaries and paraphrases in your essays).

Learning Task:

  1. Make Five Guesses as to the Title
  2. Summarize the Introduction (use a signal phrase).
  3. Identify the Topic Sentence of EACH body paragraph.  Then PARAPHRASE it.  Use signal phrases every time!
  4. Summarize the Conclusion.  Use a signal phrase.


Please post your notes as a blog entry, using this format, on the essay “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” by Sunday night the 21st before midnight.


4 thoughts on “How to Take Notes on an Essay

  1. Jen
    my questions is a little off-topic, but could you give me your opinion on the Dragon naturally speaking voice recognition software. I will be using the software throughout the quarter. I have found the software eliminates a lot of my spelling errors, also you could say my typing is just pitiful.
    Your input will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you, Joe Gloyd

    • Hi Rachel,

      I added the tag “English 101” so you could see that this is for my English 101 class.

      That said, your question is exactly why I put the two classes in the same social networking site: everything I teach to my English 101 class is in service to the Student Learning Outcomes for English 101 (which are sequence with the Student Learning Outcomes for English 102).

      While your English 101 teacher may have used different strategies to teach you the core concepts of critical reading, he/she definitely did. Because learning is Re-Learning, it is good for you to have a refresher of those core concepts in English 102.

      Everything I do in English 101 relates to getting students ready for English 102– Everything I teach in English 102 relies on the foundation of English 101.

      I’m glad you are reading everything and asking, “How does this apply to me?” It’s an excellent reflective habit to cultivate!

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