How to Take Smart Notes - Summary and Key Ideas

How to Take Smart Notes is about a simple technique to boost writing, learning, and thinking by effectively taking and organizing notes, which in turn helps develop ideas and insights for students, academics, and nonfiction writers.

The target group of "How to Take Smart Notes" includes students, academics, and nonfiction writers who seek to improve their writing, learning, and thinking processes through effective note-taking techniques.

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How to Take Smart Notes

Key ideas


Writing is the cornerstone of intellectual work, fostering idea development and deeper understanding through continuous engagement and integration into all aspects of learning.


Simplicity in note-taking fosters deeper comprehension and retention of information.

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Building on existing knowledge fuels creativity and innovation, forming a network of ideas for future endeavors.

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A continuous process of reading, note-taking, and writing generates a self-reinforcing system for new ideas and insights.

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Separating and interlocking tasks in the writing process fosters efficiency, flow, and adaptability, enhancing the overall writing experience.

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The slip-box method revolutionizes note-taking by fostering creative thinking and idea generation through non-linear connections.

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Summary & Review

In "How to Take Smart Notes," Sönke Ahrens presents a simple yet effective technique for boosting writing, learning, and thinking. The author emphasizes the importance of taking smart notes, which involves reading with a pen in hand, being selective, and connecting ideas. The book also highlights the benefits of using a slip-box system for organizing and storing notes. By following the principles and techniques outlined in the book, students, academics, and nonfiction writers can improve their productivity, creativity, and understanding of complex topics.

Sönke Ahrens

Sönke Ahrens is a German academic, researcher, and educator specializing in the fields of philosophy and education. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and currently serves as a professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen, focusing on the intersection of education, technology, and knowledge management.

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