Meeting Notes

Good notetaking is the most essential skill for good documentation. We’ve listed some best practices below but the truth is, the best notes are the notes that help you record accurate information. Use your raw notes (taken during or shortly thereafter the meeting) to create a more readable, thorough document that you can share on your blog, social media account or for an article or assignment. Good notes will give your readers a sense of place. Describe the mood in the room, interesting gestures, long silences. These details will add color to your writing—but they begin with sharp observation skills.

Assignment Requirements

  • Your meeting notes should be 1-3 pages in length, single-spaced, and submitted via the Google Doc attached to your assignment. The correct Google Doc is shared to your email address each time you are assigned to document a meeting. See Sample Meeting Notes Template and Example Meeting Notes below for what to expect.
  • Include 8-10 hyperlinks throughout the text of your notes (a hyperlink is a link in your text that connects readers with an external website).
  • Submit your notes within 24 hours after the meeting ends.

Example Meeting Notes

Example #1
Example #2
Example #3

Tips

  1. Do your pre-research: Prepare for your assignment by reading any meeting minutes, agendas, transcripts and other documentation associated with your meeting.
  2. Create a system: It’s ok to stick to keywords, phrases and short sentences to maximize the number of points you record during you assigned meeting (you can always add later). Raw notes can be used to create a more thorough submission.
  3. Listen and learn: Make a conscious effort to pay attention during your assignment. Concentrate on being accurate and hearing different perspectives.
  4. Make connections: Notetaking by hand? Weave blank space throughout your notes to backfill with comments, questions and connections that arise throughout meeting. Typing? Use functions like bold and underlined text to group similar sections.
  5. Review and edit: Following the meeting, make sure your writing is legible, any scribbles are clarified and all your “i”s are dotted following the meeting. But don’t wait too long between writing and review. Useful details may fade from your memory over time.
  6. Use your time efficiently: Our default pay rate is 3.5 hours for meetings that run under 2 hours. We expect reasonably concise and thorough notes in line with that time allotment.

Checklist

  • Count or estimate the number of attendees (not including officials)
  • Log what time the meeting started
  • Include names of presenters at the meeting, including titles and affiliations
  • Describe at least three stated goals of the meeting
  • Describe the main concerns of attendees and why those concerns were raised
  • Describe or list next steps and solutions presented at the meeting
  • Name and quote community members who spoke or presented at the meeting— you may need to approach them after the meeting to ensure you have their names spelled correctly
  • Note features of the room and the overall environment of the meeting
  • Recommended: Take photos and/or audio or video recording of the meeting. Feel free to move about the room to capture the best images.
  • For digital notes only: Add links to news stories, research reports, previous meetings notes and related governmental websites in your text

Meeting Notes Template and Style Guide

When you are assigned to take notes at a meeting, a Google Doc for your notes is automatically generated and shared with you. To make sure you receive access, use a Gmail account when you sign up with Documenters or create a Google account for an existing, non-Google email.

You will be able to access and edit the Google Doc from the email notification or your Google Drive “Shared with me” files. It will also appear as a thumbnail on your Documenters.org submission page. Click here to view a sample template.

The Google Doc shared with your assignment is preset with the styles listed below. If you take your notes in another program, such as Microsoft Word, keep the formatting simple or paste your text into your assigned Google Doc without formatting (ctrl-shift-v). Click here for more tips on how to use Google Docs.

  • Font: Nunito, black
    • Normal Text: 12 pt
    • Heading 1: 14 pt, bold
    • Heading 2: 12 pt, bold, italicized
  • Lines and spacing
    • 1.15 line spacing
    • No space after section headings
    • No space between list items
    • Space after paragraphs
  • Grammar and punctuation: Associated Press Stylebook
    • Complete sentences and/or bullet-pointed lists
    • In-line hyperlinks

On Assignment Now?

In Chicago:

Call or text 708-820-2154 any time with any questions or concerns. For any non-immediate needs email us directly at documenters@citybureau.org.

In Detroit:

Call or text 313-510-5523 any time with any questions or concerns. For any non-immediate needs email us directly at vassilis@citizendetroit.org.