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Monday Master Class: Accelerate Q/E/C Note-Taking

[Originally sent to Study Hacks Newsletter on 7/2/07]

Taking lecture notes requires great speed, as professors can spew
information at a ferocious rate. This is one reason why I emphasize in
STRAIGHT-A the importance of using a laptop in the classroom – you
type faster (and neater) than you scrawl.

This need for speed, however, can conflict with the
Question/Evidence/Conclusion (Q/E/C) note-taking style. When the
information is flying, you might not have the time to write out the
full word “Question” or “Conclusion.” This problem becomes pronounced
if you like, as I do, to put them into bold face to better structure
your notes visually.

Here’s an easy hack for Microsoft Word users to bypass this issue:

(1) Type and format the word “Question” the way you prefer it to
appear in your Q/E/C notes.

(2) Highlight the text. Go to Tools –> AutoCorrect Options.

(3) The “AutoCorrect” tab should be automatically selected. In the
“With” field you should see your formatted text. Now, put the letters
“qq” into the “Replace” field and then click the “Add” button.

(4) Repeat this procedure for “Conclusion,” using the letters “cc”

Now, when typing your notes, simply hit “q” twice and press the space
bar and your formatted “Question” will automatically appear. The same
holds true for “cc” and “Conclusion.”

It seems minor. But it frees your fingers from having to leave the
letter-keys on the keyboard, freeing up valuable time for capturing
the information being delivered.

7 thoughts on “Monday Master Class: Accelerate Q/E/C Note-Taking”

  1. One of the best tips I’ve read on the site so far (i’m not sure if thats a compliment though haha), I know this will save me lots of time next semester. Thanks.

  2. @Jamie I was trying to reach you through email but I got the “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently” error. It seems you wrote your email wrong. Can you please contact me?

  3. Hi Cal! I know this is an old post but I thought it was a really good tip, and tried to see how I can use it on my Mac since I don’t use Word! I thought I’d share this:

    1. System Preferences
    2. Language & Text
    3. Text
    4. Check “Use symbol and text substitution”
    5. “+” and type in “qq” in the “Replace” column, then type in QUESTION: or however you want it in “With”
    6. Repeat with ee & cc.

    This will now substitute these shortcuts in most applications – I’m planning to use Evernote and it works! Thanks for all your tips 🙂

  4. The more elegant and powerful solution to this problem is to use a text expander program. I use Phase Express on windows and Autokey on linux. unlike a simple dictionary change, you can write powerful macros that input your desired text in any program. What if you don’t use microsoft word for taking notes in class, and instead use Evernote? No problem. Phase express can use custom dictionaries to input text in a program-specific context (say, for example Phase express will change “qq” to Question” in Word but never in Chrome) These macros can become very complicated and extremely useful. Just a small example: I tag notebooks in Evernote with things like “!Now” and “@Work” so I can refer to them later. When I get action items in my email inbox, I forward them to my Evernote account which allows parsing of the subject line into tags for the note. Rather than typing out all of my most commonly used tags, I have set PhaseExpress to simply replace “,,!” with @Action Pending #.Active Projects #1-Now #@Work


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