College Basics: Post-it Notes and Tabs

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When setting out to take notes in class or off campus, post it notes and sticky tabs are going to become some of your best friends. These helpful and inexpensive study tools will help loads with keeping track of specific book pages, taking quick notes that won’t hurt your rented text books, and giving yourself parenthetical reminders where ever you can find to stick them. 

To begin, both of these little guys can be used as bookmarks. After a few changes within a book, the glue will wear off a bit, and because they are flimsy paper relative to a regular bookmark they might become more obnoxious than beneficial. They do, however, work wonders in a pinch or to mark a page that you want to keep readily available more permanently.

Post-it notes are the best. I go through these a little slower than the tabs, but they have remained crucial to successful study in my college career. (Check out my upcoming College Basics: Post-it Note Taking for details about how I use these bad boys to take notes). I think they are pretty straightforward and well known enough not to require much erudition. In my experience, though, the top use for these in college has been taking notes in books that I do not want to mark up. Whether it’s a rented book, one that I want to sell to a used bookstore, or it’s just got that sheen that I don’t want to mess with, Post-its keep it clean.

After my first couple years of college I found out that using tabs to mark pages I found useful for writing essays and studying (whether because they contained sweet information or a potential quotable), to bookmark pages, and to color code sections of study and my own writing material became one of the best things I could do. I had been writing page numbers down in my notes as I took them, whether in class or reading at home, but I found that my references and important pages were tied up in my messy handwriting. I clearly labeled page numbers throughout my notes, but whenever I wanted to find something particular, I basically had to read through every chicken scratch page of notes to find it. Then I had to go to the page, re-read the info and then go back to my notes to add it to those and then…you get the point. Using tabs cut the time it took me to find what I needed and made note taking a lot easier.

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A book for my undergraduate thesis.

With a little time I began using different color tabs to signify a few different things, depending on the class. While tabs do come in individual colors, you can guess that I have always gone with the multipack for the sake of organization. You can check out my upcoming College Basics: Tabs page for more details about my system, but here is the general idea: I decided before beginning a finite course of study which color would mean what. Usually two or three colors were enough. Then, during my reading and studying, I would mark off pages and even my own notes according to one of a few different characteristics: levels of importance, by information that could be paraphrased, quoted, or re-read for further understanding, or what pages I would use in an essay verses those that were just personal favorites (in the case of literature classes or the electives I just took for fun).

There are a few different tabs out there to choose from. My personal choice is the Post-its page markers that you can write on. They aren’t much for serious note taking, but when the time comes something small can be scribbled on them or they work well for titles and short descriptors. I have, however, been known to use these Post-it flags to mark pages and references, as you can see stuffed into this undergraduate thesis book of mine.

Nearly ten years later, I still have books I studied in those middle years of college with the first tabs I bought. The header image on this blog’s homepage, with the tabbed up books, are mine from undergrad and grad school.

As always, study hard!

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