Note-taking tips Christopher Thiéry

The following is taken from,

Christopher Thiéry, L’enseignement de la prise de notes en interpretation consecutive : un faux probleme? In Delisle, Jean (ed) L’enseignement de l’interpretation et de la traduction – de la theorie a la pedagogie. Cahiers de traductologie 4. Ottawa 1981. 99-112.

Chistopher Thiéry is a legend of the profession. A member of AIIC from its beginnings, Chief Interpreter at the French Foreign Ministry and Director of ESIT for many years. This article contains the following very useful tips about consecutive note-taking and interpreting.


1 Write the thing that comes most quickly to your pen

2 Don’t look for equivalences while listening, now is not the time (unless the speaker pauses for some reason) 

3 If you are not understanding, STOP taking notes and LISTEN!

4 Note legibly 

5 Abbreviate long words 

6 Use the space available to portray the heirarchy of ideas and… 

7 …to place those ideas relative to one another 

8 Separate the different parts of the message (which often correspond to sentences), using horizontal lines 

9 The structure of the page should be visible from 3 feet away 

10 Use signs and symbols which already exist 

11 Use individual letters as symbols if they are clear in a given meeting or context 

12 Make sure that the colour of the pen (or pencil) and paper that you use are such that the former clearly stands out against the latter 

13 Number the pages if they are not bound 

14 Cross out each passage in your notes as you complete reading it back 

15 Glance at each section of your notes BEFORE speaking

16 Look up at your audience