5 Effective Ways to Take Notes on Video

Taking good notes requires more than just writing down what you've watched - it's the difference between watching and learning.

5 Effective Ways to Take Notes on Video

Quality vs Quantity

One of the most basic ways to learn is the act of taking notes.  Anyone can write notes, but it’s the quality of the notes that determines if it’s really something useful that can be looked back upon and reviewed, or just throwaway.

Timestamps vs Clips

The most basic method of taking notes on video is to write notes at a specific timestamp.  The idea is that you find a key moment in the video that you can jump back to, and then jot down some notes.

A major weakness of timestamps is that they only capture a single frame out of the entire video, which results in having to guess when a clip should end, or what part is truly the most important.

Instead, ClipNotes is all about creating specific clips and then adding notes, so that reviewing later down the line is simple and effective.

Here are 5 ways that I’ve used ClipNotes to take high quality notes. 

#1 - Simple Clips

The first and most basic method is creating a video clip, with very little text, because all the relevant information is found within the video itself.  This is extremely similar to creating GIFs that are easy to share, highly informative, and don’t require much additional text explanation.

Example: 6 Minute Abs ClipNotes


  1. The first clip is an explanation of how to do the exercises.
  2. The second clip is the entire workout routine by itself.
By creating these simple clips, it’s much easier to get exactly what you want when you go back to watch the video.

#2 - Clip + Summary

The second method is to add an additional summary with each clip.  It is crucial to find a key clip that works well with the notes in order to better reinforce the key takeaways.

Example: How to DJ - Blending One Track into Another


  1. The clip isn’t the entire section where the DJ is explaining how to do this transition, but a clip of the transition in action.
  2. The text provides a summary of how to mix one song into another with a high level of detail that makes it easy to re-read and remember.
When the notes and video complement each other well, it's substantially more useful later when you need to review.

#3 - Question and Answer

The third method has a more creative twist - write down an important question instead of a statement.  Use the clip itself to answer the question, or write an additional answer afterwards.

Example: Learnings from a Marketplace Focused Product Manager


  1. The notes start with the question “What’s first when building a marketplace, supply or demand?”
  2. The clip highlights the entire segment where the author discusses the answer to the question.
By writing a question instead of a statement, you’re challenging yourself to recall the information, which actually results in better learning in the long run (active recall).  The video serves as an easy way to obtain the answer if you’ve forgotten.

#4 - Loop vs No Loop

When watching a video, sometimes it’s necessary to watch it a few times to truly understand.  ClipNotes gives you the ability to either loop a clip multiple times or let it play just once.

No Loop Example: Learnings from Steve Jobs


With clips that are longer and involve more of someone giving a lecture or discussing something, you generally would only want to listen to once.

Loop Example: How to Skimboard


Sports, and other dynamic things like video games, really lend themselves well to loop, because the action happens so quickly and it’s unlikely that you can understand everything the first time you watch it.  Just think of slow motion replays and how helpful they are!

#5 - Anything and Everything

The last method of note taking is the most flexible, which is to add additional context to the video to make it even more useful.

Example: Alison Roman’s Chickpea Stew Recipe


In this example, I decided to add the ingredients list for this particular step of the recipe, even though she doesn’t talk about the exact quantities during this moment of the video.

I hope these note taking methods and ClipNotes can help you learn something new!

Happy Clipping, 


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