Example outline note taken from one paragraph (see below) in "How Does a Poem Mean?" by John Ciardi.
("Unconquered") is perhaps the most widely known bad poem in
English, and certainly there is no trace in it of a technical flaw on
which its badness could be blamed. Nor is the poem bad because of
its subject matter. Hardy and Housman, among others, have written
many poems that take as bleakly pessimistic an attitude toward life as
does "Invictus." The success of many such poems is
sufficient evidence that English and American readers can enter into a
sympathetic contract to consider the world as some sort of unhappy pit.
It is not in the way Henley takes his subject, but in the way he takes
himself that the reader parts company with the poet. To take the
world as one's subject and to take the attitude that it is nothing but a
place of suffering is one thing; but to react by taking oneself with
such chest-thumping heroics, is very much another. One feels that
Henley is not really reacting from his own profoundest depths but that
he is making some sort of overdramatic speech about pessimism.
There is a failure of character in the tone he has assumed. The
poet has presented himself as unflinchingly valiant. The reader
cannot help but find him merely inflated and self-dramatizing.
When recording factual information, you may wish to take notes in rough outline form. Abbreviations are common with this type of note.