When it comes to lecture-based visual notes, it’s rare that I capture an entire diagram. Diagrams are full of complex information that takes time and focus to draw accurately, and I’d rather focus on listening for big ideas than capture details. Diagrams typically have an overall message, such as “sales are increasing” or “it took three years to recover from the recession.” In my opinion, it’s better to capture the overall messages found by looking at diagrams, rather than capturing the diagrams themselves.

However, there are instances where it’s helpful and even necessary to visualize information using diagrams. The goal with visual notes is to increase retention, so anything you can do to help the information ...

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