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ABP Study and Research Guide

This guide will help you with your studies in the Bachelor of Design, MSD and beyond.

Note taking

Developing your note taking skills will help you understand material more easily, and save time when you are looking for ideas to include in your work.

There are a number of different note taking techniques you can try, such as:

  • annotating texts with your own comments as you read
  • drawing diagrams to connect ideas
  • transforming text into your own words using paraphrases or summaries

If you get into the habit of taking notes whenever you read, you can determine which techniques are the most effective for you. 

Always record the bibliographic details of the texts you are working with, so you can avoid unintentionally plagiarising material. 

example of Cornell note taking about songlines

The image above is an example of the Cornell method, which you can use to take notes when you are reading a text or listening to a lecture.

To use this method:

  1. Separate a page into two columns, with space to write the source and topic at the top of the page, and a summary at the bottom. 
  2. Record your notes in the right hand column. 
  3. Reduce the notes into key topics in the left hand column. 
  4. Reflect on the ideas and write a short summary. 

You can then use these notes to review your understanding of a text or lecture, or capture information as you do research. 

For a more information about note-taking techniques refer to Note taking and synthesising

Visual note taking

You might like to try visual note taking or sketchnoting if you tend to remember things better visually or if you enjoy doodling while listening to lectures. It's a note-taking technique that combines drawing and note-taking to create notes that are more meaningful and visually appealing.

Example of visual note-taking on a notepad with images and words illustrating the thought processes

An example of visual note taking for the first chapter of Goldberger, P. (2009). Why architecture matters. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Sketchnoting is often used at conferences, but you can use it for lectures or even for books/articles you read.

Taking in new information and writing/drawing at the same time means you will:

  • capture the most important points as text and drawings
  • arrange the material so that it's easy to see the structure of the content
  • add in your own thoughts/observations

Sketchnoting can help you understand what you are learning, and by giving the ideas or concepts visual forms they become easier to recall in the future. 

If you'd like to give sketchnoting a go, have a look at these two videos.

File naming

Naming your files in a consistent way will help you find them faster. This is particularly important when doing a large project like a thesis or working with many files.

File naming tip



Be descriptive

Don't use common words like 'file' or 'final', or give your file generic names like 'untitled'.






Keep file names short





Use underscores rather than blank spaces temperature v01 2016 12 01.csv temperature_v01_2016-12-01.csv
Avoid special characters temp{Data}@site#01.csv temp_data_site01.csv

Format the date YYYY-MM-DD

In a list of files with the same name and date format, the files will appear oldest to newest.





Use scalable numbers 

Use two-digit numbers if you will have up to 99 files, three-digit if you will have 100 - 999.







For more file naming tips,
DesignWorkshop. (2015). Key documentation practices In Landscape architecture documentation standards : Principles, guidelines, and best practices (pp.66-70)


 American Institute of Architects (2013). Document Management In The architect's handbook of professional practice. (pp. 850-851)