When preparing a research paper, it is essential to take good notes. Thoroughly read your sources for information that pertains to the topic you are researching. Making note cards is an important tool for keeping your research organized and accurate. Here are some tips for making note cards when writing a research paper.

Ways to Record Information

Quote directly. Copy the information exactly as it looks in the material. Place quotation marks around the quote. Be sure to also include on the note card the page number and where you found the source.

Paraphrase the information. Paraphrasing means that you write the quote in your own words. To make sure you don't plagiarize, don't look at the quote while you are writing it on your note card. This way, you ensure that you use your own words.

Summarize the information. Focus on the key points of the material you are reading. Make a bullet list of the important aspects of the source. Remember to put the page number for the information you are summarizing on your note card.

Filling Out the Note Card

Use a 3-by-5 inch index card. You can buy note cards that are separated, or you can buy them connected by a binder. As a student and a teacher, I find it more useful to use note cards that are separated because it is easier to spread them across a table.

List all the pertinent information on each note card. You should have already made bibliography cards for your sources, so simply record the number of the bibliography card for the source you are using on the note card. Having bibliography cards already made will save you time while researching. If you have not completed that step, you will need to write the author, title of the source, and publishing information on each note card.

Note on each note card whether you are quoting directly, paraphrasing or summarizing. In the flurry of note taking, it is easy to forget to add quotation marks to a direct quote. You do not want to come back to your note cards days later and not remember whether what you wrote down was a direct quote or a paraphrase.