SWTC Cambridge - Note Taking 2018

Hi everybody,
Many thanks for taking part in our Software Tester Clinic Session on “Note Taking” !

It was great to see everybody so engaged with the topic, it certainly made it an enjoyable session to host. Some of resources mentioned and used during preparation of the session can be found here:

Books on mind mapping by Tony Buzan
James Thomas’ Sketchnotes:

And a couple of blogs by James relating to note taking:

Michael Bolton’s Exploratory Testers Notebook:

Alan Richardson - 10 Experiments to Improve Your Exploratory Testing Note Taking

A reminder on Cornell Notes:

If you have more resources, or tips and tricks, please share!

Remember to complete the exercise to perform your own exploratory testing of a website and take notes. It will be great to see your efforts, so post them here.

Any questions, just ping us :slight_smile:

Mark & Karo

Thanks for linking to my blogs, Mark.

In case it’s of interest, I have one about some simple models too: https://qahiccupps.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-testing-kraftwerk.html

Cool, Dom, nice to see you trying this out!

On your question - yes I think note taking can go bad. But I think if doing it regularly and reflecting on it can help improving how, when and what you take notes on, and becoming more efficient. And I know without notes, I have not a lot of evidence to help me remember later on, so happy to spend thoughts on improving my skills in the area.

For example I observed myself taking a lot of notes while testing, which was useful (helped me make sense of the data, find patterns, helped me to regularly step back and reflect on what I found etc). To conduct a report from the notes however took me a long while, which was super annoying, I didn’t want to loose that much time in postprocessing the notes. I try to remedy this by now also doing a section on top of my session notes, which is a more condensed format, e.g. highlevel areas covered, what’s yet to do (which I also keep as a checklist throughout the session), and sometimes conclusions. I find I often can be report from this with just minimal edits!

One thing I’m still trying to improve is to consistently and concisely reflect and note done on learnings (about a product, about testing etc). I can often still retroactively construct the learnings from my notes, but it would be better to just dot them down as well :wink:


Hi all,

@punkmik is following Alan Richardsons experiment on note taking, have a look: 10 days of note taking experimentation - Start Mon 23rd

And to add on to your experiment - I really like the idea with the banners and how that allowed to have an overview on status by looking at the thumbnails! Visual indicator for the win :slight_smile:
An add-on thought: I often try to additionally accompany screenshots with written notes in text format - even if they just list the screenshots, and maybe a mission statement, using text format allows me to find things/sessions/information points by using grep, which I do more and more often.


I did a session, using annotated screenshots to take notes. Find it here:

A question: Do you think note taking can go bad? If so, when and how? For example, can you spend all your time taking notes and not actually doing any work!