Note-taking as a Skill for Testers

Testers take note of points that we sense as important evidence and deemed as useful information when testing. Notes are a collection of:

  • thoughts that our senses gather,
  • ideas pertaining to discovery or an invention,
  • questions relevant.

Notes are also for record-keeping of the learning, unlearning, or as an account of an event that we experience. One of the greatest note-takers was Leonardo Da Vinci, whose notes were bought by Bill Gates for over $30 million and is exhibited today to commoners.

We have all taken notes until in university and have read other notes that are made accessible. Mindful note-taking mustn’t end at that, because continuous learning is a skill for a tester.

There’s good evidence that the act of writing itself helps us remember things better –

Note-taking is an essential skill for testers to take note of the relevant information of the application under test, be it a mental note or written notes.

Where do I start if am a beginner to note-taking?

  • Pick a tool.
  • Learn what the tool can do.
  • Compare it with the other tools, know the limitations of the tool.
  • Use the one which suits and meets your requirements.
  • Keep a list of other tools handy, find other ways to represent ideas visually.

If you ever wondered, why are we as testers talking about note-taking? Then the better question is why are we as testers not talking about note-taking as a skill yet?

Note-taking is what testers do more often than we realize. One of the primary activities for a tester is to keep a record of the bugs that we find and resolve, investigate and record findings of those bugs by noting about it in the form of a bug report, a test report, an investigation report, and an experience report.

Hence the need for testers to learn and be better at note-taking.

Note-taking – Representation in Testing and other uses

Few of the relevant representation of note-taking in testing are as below:

  • Product Ideation Phase
  • Test idea generation
  • Test Plan
  • Test Coverage
  • List Test Deliverables
  • User acceptance criteria
  • Automation notes – Can/Can not be automated
  • Note-taking at testing events and conferences
  • Clarifications log
  • Test objective, assumption, observation, test status (pass/not yet)
  • Heuristic and mnemonic formation
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Making Plans A/B
  • Decision making – Go/No go

Few tips on Note-taking

Few observations on note-taking

At Moolya, we conducted a testing event on note-taking and gathered some points to ponder:

  • We are all note-takers – We all take notes consciously and unconsciously.
  • Note-taking can be improved with practice.
  • Note-taking is an art and a science.
  • Irrespective of the tool used, make notes – mental note, written, voice, visual. Find out which mode suits your style of note-taking.
  • Practice note-taking with mentors – It has great benefits to learn with a mentor.
  • Practice visual and voice-based note-taking – There are tools available to help us with this.

Some ideas to try in-order to practice note-taking are

  • Together watch a video, and then attempt to make notes of what you gathered by watching the video. Take note of what, how and why you noted it.
  • Play an audio/instrument and note the nuances.

Attempt this either as an individual or as a group activity

  • Another interesting exercise to try is to place an object at the tester’s desk and take notes of that object. When this exercise is continuously practised it is found to help and have a great impact on note-taking ability.

Taking notes is a reflection of our perspective on the problem, the solution, or on the topic chosen.


It is with the practice that one can aim to become a great note-taker. Spare time to make notes on any choicest element to practice mindful note-taking. This exercise when practised regularly can bring about changes beneficial and help improve our learnability quotient.

Optional reading/listening

Book – Think Like Da Vinci by Michael J Gelb

TED Talk – How To Truly Listen by Evelyn Glennie – 

You May Also Like