Reading Journal Template
Here is a structured way to take notes on your reading that will help you pay attention to key aspects of the text and read the work like a historian. Making sure you can answer each of these questions is a good way to check your understanding of the text, and looking explicitly for this information can help you read more efficiently.
Full Citation: be sure to include all the relevant information you will need later, including the author(s), editor(s), chapter/article full title, book/journal full title, date, and publication information (journal name and volume/issue, publisher).
Course unit: what part of the course does this work relate to? Or (if not from the resource list) how did you find it and why are you reading it?
Topic: what is it about?
Setting: Where and when does the history take place?
Key terms and definitions: Anything you had to look up (it is ok not to look up everything you do not recognize if it seems like you can understand things well enough without it), and anything especially important.
Key people, places, events, and ideas: Just the really important ones you might want to come back to. It is often better to come back and list these after you have looked through the work for the first time, as it will be easier to tell what matters in the big picture once you have seen the big picture.
Important quotes, claims, or examples: with page numbers for future referencing! Always clearly mark what words are from the text and what words are your summary or paraphrase.
Questions raised, connections to other readings: recording your reactions and ideas from the text will make it more useful to you later on, and help you get more out of your initial reading.