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How to take lecture notes quickly. Common abbreviations and symbols for students

Students taking notes in a lecture theatre

Abbreviations and symbols save time. They shorten words and phrases. For example an abbreviation or the word ‘paragraph’ is para.

It’s a good idea therefore for students to use them when writing short-hand notes quickly during lectures and from books and other resources.

Keep this list of common academic abbreviations and symbols near you in lectures and when studying until you know them. Overtime you can always add more to your list that are specific to your area of study.

Frequently used abbreviations

approx. approximately
b/c because
b/4 before
bk. book, born
C (e.g. 21C for ‘twenty-first century’)
c. approximately, roughly, about (abbreviation for the Latin ‘circa’)
cf. compared to, in comparison with
cp. compare
def. definition
diff. different, difference
ea. each
e.g. for example
fr. from
etc. and the rest, and so on
gen. general
i.e. that is, that means, in other words
impt. important
NB important, notice this, note well
nec. nessesary
no. number
pt. point
p. page (pp. = pages)
re. regarding, about
sim. similar
s/t something
T. theory, theoretical
tho’ though
thro’ through
w/ with
w/o without
viz. namely, that is to say
v. very
vv. extremely
vs. against

Frequently used numbers and symbols

2 to, two, too
4 for
8 anything ending in ‘ate’
+ and, also, as well as, in addition to, plus
minus, without
= equals, is the same as, results in
does not equal, is not the same as, does not result in
is approximately equal to, is similar to
< is less than, is smaller than
> is greater than, is larger than
increase, rise, growth
↑↑ rapid increase
decrease, fall, shrinkage
↓↓ rapid decrease
therefore, thus
leads on to, produces, causes
x no, not, incorrect
xx definitely not, disproved
? uncertain, possibly, unproven
yes, correct
✓✓ definitely, certain, proven
# number
special, important, notable (when added to a word or phrase)
/ per (e.g., £50/day instead of ‘fifty pounds per day’)
! not, isn’t
@ at
proportional to

Less frequently used abbreviations

A answer
adm. administration
adj. adjective, adjourned, adjustment
abr. abridged
abbr. abbreviation, abbreviated
acad. academic, academy
aka. also known as
app. appendix
assoc. association
biol. biology
bibliog. bibliography
bot. botanical, botany
cap. capital, capitalise
chap. chapter
chem. chemical
co. company
colloq. colloquial, colloquialism
conf. conference, confer
cont. containing, content, continental, continue, continued
com. commercial, commission, common, communication, community
cr. credit
crit. criticism
diag. diagram
disc. discovered
dist. distinguished
div. dividend, division
distr. distribution, distributed
econ. economics, economy
esp. especially
est. established, estimate
ex. examined, example
excl. excluding
f. feminine, feminism, frequency
gen. gender, general
govt. government
hist. historian, historical, history
illus. illustrated
inc. including
info. information
lang. language
m. male
no. number
orig. original, originated
p. / pp. page / pages
para. paragraph
poss. possible, possibly
prin. principal
prob. problem, probable, probably
probs problems
prob. produced by, producer, production
pt. / pts. part, point / parts, pts
Q. question
ref. refer, reference
reg. region, registered, regular, regulation
rev. review, revision
sci. science, scientific
sect. section
sp. special, species, specific
st. study, student
univ. universal, university
usu. usually
vers. version
yr. year

Which abbreviations are used in your subject area?
Consider making your own list of abbreviations that are specific to your subject.

Most abbreviations should NOT be used in essays and coursework as they are generally too informal – some acronyms can be used (although they should be written fully at first) such as the NHS (National Health Service), United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) to name a few.

4 Responses to “How to take lecture notes quickly. Common abbreviations and symbols for students”

  1. Anonymous says:

    j’aime et cela m’instruire

  2. unknown says:

    scroll down too see my real comment

    made you scroll

  3. unknown says:

    does anyone know any good websites for abbreviations and symbols for note taking?

  4. [...] less and focusing on the lecture will help your brain digest the info better. In fact, here’s a good list of abbreviations to get you [...]

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