Taking Notes During an Interview

Posted by Olivia on Jun 8th 2021

Although we are living in the age of voice recorders and smartphones, nothing can truly replace a reporter’s notebook and pen.

While recording an interview is useful when it comes to accurately capturing every quote, the time it takes to transcribe each interview can be taxing. This is especially true for reporters who have tight deadlines to meet.

So how can you make sure you get all of the information you need with a notepad and pen? In this article, we are revealing our best tips for taking notes during an interview so you don’t miss a single detail.

Finding the Perfect Notebook

Before you begin to take notes during an interview, it is important to ensure that you have a proper notebook.

You should have a notebook that is small enough to be easily carried around, and sturdy enough to be able to write while standing. The notebook should also have a spiral on top to allow you to flip the pages vertically so that you can continue writing without interruptions.

A notebook like the Portage Tactical Top-Bound Notebook or the Portage Notes Notebook should work perfectly.

How to Take Notes During an Interview

Now that you have the right notebook, here are our top tips for taking notes during an interview.

Be Thorough

When taking notes during an interview, it is important to be as comprehensive as you can.

However, it is also impossible to think that you will be able to jot down every single word. Plus, you probably will not even want to use every single word or quote in your final story.

It is okay if you miss a few things here and there.

Get the Facts Right

If you are unsure of something or think you may have misheard a quote, ask for clarification.

Asking your source to repeat something is a foolproof way to get the right information. Do not be afraid to say “Let me get this straight, are you saying that…” or “Can you repeat that please?”.

Sometimes, your source might make a statement that is too jargony or even overly complicated. Ask them to simplify it and put it into language that is easier to understand. This will not only be better for your notes but your final story as well.

Accuracy is Key

If you’re writing in shorthand, be sure that what you do write down accurately represents the meaning behind what the source said.

While it might not be realistic to write down every single word, you do not ever want to misquote your source. If you are not sure you wrote down the quote exactly as it was said, it is okay to paraphrase as long as you do not misconstrue the information.


One of the most important parts of reporting is the jotting down of quotes.

This can be difficult at times as people may talk too fast, so it is up to you to write as quickly as possible.

Keep in mind that you do not have to write down every single quote. The more experience you have, the easier it will be to filter out the quotes that will be useful to you while not worrying about the rest.

Abbreviations Are Your Friend

Since taking notes in a notebook is an acquired skill, shorthand and abbreviations are your friend when it comes to speed.

People tend to talk fast. If you try to capture every single word they say on paper, you will likely end up with a lot of illegible scribbles.

Using your own abbreviations and shorthand can help you get all of the information you need, and quickly.

Taking Notes During an Interview: Final Thoughts

A notepad and pen are often all you need to take notes during an interview. Do not forget to go back and highlight all of the main points and quotes you are likely to use as soon as the interview has finished.

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Portage Notebooks is located in Northeast Ohio and has been creating professional notebooks for media, law enforcement, and businesses for over fifty years. Our notebooks are made using the highest quality materials.

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