Cyrus R. Vance, the Wall Street lawyer, maintained a low-key, undramatic style during his first overseas mission, in sharp contrast to the electric, vivid and often gripping diplomatic methods of his predecessor, Henry A. Kissinger.

"He seemed like a typical lawyer, while Kissinger was more of a politician," said a Middle Eastern diplomat who watched Vance in action during the past week.

"He listened very carefully to what was told him and said very little about what he thought."

Vance often took his own notes in a small notebook, both during private one-on-one sessions with heads of state and in larger meetings where aides and advisers were present. Kissinger never took notes, relying instead on teams of official notetakers or his own memory.

Using his notes, Vance dictated memoranda for transmission to President Carter or, in some cases, for the State Department record.

During the journey, the new secretary of state continued a practice begun in Washington of sending Carter five to seven pages daily of thoughts, impressions and personal reports on foreign affairs. The President reads the Vance reports every night before retiring or first thing in the morning.

Unlike Kissinger, Vance made no attempt to maintain personal control of U.S. foreign policy worldwide from his airplane during the trip abroad. Before leaving Washington, the new secretary gave formal as well as informal instructions that all possible decisions be made by others in his absence or deferred for his return rather than being sent to him for mid-air judgments.

Vance aides said 10 to 12 matters a day, on the average, were sent from Washington for his consideration or personal attention. Some of them things that Carter directed that Vance should know.

But no major decisions involving other areas of the world had to be made during the trip, they said.

Kissinger kept a much tighter rein on the State Department decesion-making, preferring to make nearly all significant choices himself no matter where he was.