Notetaking Service

Quick Links

  • Seeking a Notetaker
    • Requesting a Notetaker
    • How We Recruit Notetakers
    • Important Information if you are Seeking a Notetaker
    • Technical Tips
  • Academic Tips for Notetaking
    • Prepping Before the Lecture
    • During the Lecture
    • After the Lecture
    • General Tips

Seeking a Notetaker

*Note: The information in the following section is provided for students who are looking for someone to take notes for them.


Requesting a Notetaker:

  • Discuss with your Program Coordinator about needing a notetaker for your courses. Once this has been approved as an accommodation, proceed with the steps below.
  • Visit the SAS Homepage ( At the top where all of the tabs are located, please select “Student Log-In“.
  • You will be taken to a page with a series of icons and links. Select the “Course Notes” link.
  • Use your McMaster ID and password to sign in.
  • Under the “Courses/Notes” tab you will see a list of the courses you are currently enrolled in.
  • The column entitled “I Require a Notetaker” is a crucial step in the process of receiving notes.
    • You must ensure you change the status of the column in order to receive notes. Initially, all classes will say “No”. In each cell, you can select “Change This” if you do require notes for that course. If done correctly, it should now read “Yes” in that box.
    • You do not need to say “Yes” for all your courses, only the courses for which you need a notetaker. For example, you might need a notetaker for History 1EE3, but notetakers are never needed in clinical courses, or in a thesis course.
    • Changing the status to “Yes” automatically notifies your professor about the need for a volunteer notetaker in the class.
  • The “Notetaker Availability” column follows:
    • If no notetakers are available at the time of request, it will be indicated in the “Notetaker Availability” column beside each course code. You may view the sample notes of the notetaker(s), and choose the notes you prefer.
      • Sample Notes:
        • Sample notes are a way for volunteers to share their notes before being selected as notetakers.
        • Sample notes are limited to 3 per volunteer.
        • These notes allow you to view various styles of notetaking and choose the notes most suitable for you.
        • Volunteers can upload more than 3 notes only after they have been selected by a student to be a notetaker. If you see only 3 notes, please give the notetaker 48 hours upon selection to follow up with additional notes.
    • You can click “Notes” under the “My Lecture Notes” column to access your notes for the term.
    • Once you have selected a notetaker, you will be able to download the notes which the notetaker has provided. If you would like to select a different notetaker, please contact
    • Make sure you download your notes at least once per week and save them to your computer. This step is important in the event that the system doesn’t work at a time of need.
    • If your notetaker is not uploading consistently, or you are having any issues regarding notes, you can contact the Notetaking Coordinator at

*Note: If you are experiencing difficulties logging on, try accessing our website using Google Chrome or Firefox.


Screenshot of SAS homepage and Online Student Services screen indicating where to click as described in the steps above

Screenshot of Note Request Screen indicating where to click as described in the steps above

Screenshot of webpage where notes are listed for each course as explained in the steps above


How We Recruit Notetakers

  • If in-class announcements are not successful in recruiting notetakers:
    • Please email the Notetaking Coordinator at
    • The Notetaking Coordinator can send a direct email, regarding the opportunity to volunteer, to all students registered in the course.
    • If you would like this to be done for your course, please follow the following instructions on sending a class list
      • Log into Avenue to Learn.
      • Click “Communication”.
      • Click “Class List”.
      • Click “200 per page”.
      • Select and copy Usernames (McMaster IDs). The Names/Roles columns might copy as well, and this is not a problem.
      • Paste the class list into a Word Document.
      • Email to the Notetaking Coordinator ( with the subject “CLASS LIST: Course XXXX”.

*Note: Your name will not be disclosed by the Notetaking Coordinator or by your Instructor.

  • You can also ask your instructor if he or she can provide you with lecture notes as an alternative to accessing a volunteer notetaker.
  • Please be advised: Notes are not always guaranteed, but we do everything we can to try to find you a notetaker!


Important Information If You Are Seeking a Notetaker

  • You may request a notetaker for as many courses as you need.
  • Your information is confidential. Notetakers will not know who they are taking notes for. You do not have to disclose any information regarding your disability to your notetaker in order to access your notes.
  • Notetakers are encouraged to upload their notes as quickly as possible after the lecture. They are given a window of 48 hours following the lecture to upload the notes for you.
  • If you would like to connect with your notetaker regarding notes, please contact the Notetaking Coordinator at to facilitate this.


Technical Tips

  • If you look for notes but find that there is no notetaker assigned for one of your courses, you may try one or more of the following steps:
  1. Ask your instructor if they can provide you with lecture notes as an alternative to accessing a volunteer notetaker.
  2. Suggest to your instructors that perhaps they can make an announcement in class indicating that a notetaker is required, the Notetaking Coordinator can also do this on your behalf.
  3. Email the Notetaking Coordinator at and ask them to help you recruit a notetaker.
  4. If you feel comfortable, take an active role by asking someone in your class to take notes and encourage him or her to go online to sign up to be a notetaker through the SAS website.
  • If you are unsatisfied with the notes that your notetaker has provided, you can recruit a new notetaker by following the same steps listed above.
  • Notes are typically uploaded in the form of a Microsoft Word document (.doc) or as a PDF. For some classes (such as Math or Engineering), hand written notes are also accepted. These documents will be scanned and uploaded by the notetaker.
  • If you require notes in other formats (other than written) you should make an appointment with your SAS Program Coordinator who may assist you in finding appropriate assistive technologies.

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Academic Tips for Notetaking

*Note: The information in the following section is provided for both students who are taking notes for others and for themselves in order to provide guidance for engaging in effective notetaking process.


Prepping Before the Lecture

  • Do some preparation work before you attend the lecture so that you will be able to predict some organization of the lecture.
  • Review the course outline. Look to see if the instructor has listed the topic or key ideas that will be taught in the upcoming lecture. If so, turn this information into questions that may be answered during the lecture.
  • Make sure you complete all outside readings or reference assignments before the lecture. This way the lecture becomes a review of the material which you have already engaged in.
  • Review your notes from previous lectures to trigger your memory of the course content.
  • Print out any slides or notes that may be provided for you by the instructor in advance.


During the Lecture

  • Sit as close to the front of the room as possible to avoid being distracted.
  • If there were no slides or notes to print out in advance, make sure you copy everything that is written on the blackboard or projector.
  • Listen carefully to the introduction – this is where the instructor will outline the material for the day which will help prepare you in anticipating what notes you will need to be taking.
  • Do not be tempted to write down every single word.
  • Summarize your notes in your own words. Remember – your goal is to understand what the instructor is saying.
  • Try to identify main ideas by identifying signal words that indicate something important that should be noted. For example, “First, Second, Next, Then, Thus, Another Important Point, etc.” are all considered signal words.
  • Make sure that you jot down examples that the instructor uses to explain any ideas. Give special attention to topics not covered in the textbook.
  • If there is a summary at the end of the lecture, pay close attention to it. You can use it to compare your notes. If your notes seem disorganized, copy down the main points covered in the summary and then after class go back and review your notes by comparing them to the summary notes.
  • Don’t rush your notetaking. Be attentive; listen and take notes from the beginning to end of the lecture.


After the Lecture

  • Revise your notes as soon as possible while the material is still fresh in your mind.
  • While revising your notes, incorporate any notes you may have taken when reading from the textbook/courseware.
  • Review your lecture notes at least once a week to ensure you understand the material.


General Tips

  • Remember to write a date and the course name or number at the start of each set of notes.
  • Use abbreviations wherever possible. (Keep track of your abbreviations by making a list that you can refer back to).
  • Mark ideas which the instructor emphasizes with an arrow or special symbol. Want to be able to draw your attention to the idea when reviewing your notes.
  • While most of your notes should be in your own words, make sure you copy directly from the lecture material when it comes to
    • Formulas
    • Definitions
    • Specific Facts
  • Use an outline form and/or a numbering system when taking your notes. Indention in your notes will help you distinguish major from minor points.
  • If you miss a statement or point, write the key words you managed to get and skip a few spaces where you can go back and fill in that information at a later time.
  • Practice taking notes. Learning to concentrate and listen actively is an important skill for learning. Practice will improve your notetaking ability over time.
  • Err on the side of writing down too much. Writing also helps you pay attention, so that you do not miss important information.
  • Remember that notes are an aid to study and to memory and not an end in themselves. You will need to review them to get the maximum benefit, preferably within a day of gathering them. It is also imperative that you do your readings as these supplement your notes and provide you with an overall understanding of the material being taught.

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