How to take Cornell style notes

how-to-take-cornell-style-notes-fWhen you are a student you are almost certainly going to be spending quite a bit of time taking notes. There are many diferent methods of notetaking which work well for different people but a method I have been using so far this academic year is Cornell notes. I don’t have lectures so I don’t know how well this type of notetaking would work for that but I have found them helpful for taking notes from my text books. In this blog post I will explain how to take this type of notes and why I like to use them.

What are Cornell notes?

Technically Cornell notes are meant to involve dividing your page into three, with a margin down the left hand side and a box at the bottom of each page that spans the margin and the main part of the page. In the main, right hand section you write the main part of your notes, in the left hand side you can write a small summary of what that section is about or key words etc., basically something that quickly identifies what you are talking about. In the box at the bottom you write a summary of what you have said on that page.

However, I prefer to use a modifided version of this. Instead I have a margin down the left hand side of my page which is the width of my ruler (just because that seems easier than measuring it every time) and I use this for the purpose described above. Where my method differs is that at the end of each section of my text book I have a box, instead of at the end of each page. I use this to make a summary in a couple of sentences of everything that has been covered in that section. To me this method makes more sense as each chapter of my text books are generally clearly divided into different topics and so it makes sense to summarise this rather than whatever information I have managed to fit on one side of A4.

Why use Cornell notes?

I like using Cornell notes for a number of reasons. Firstly, they force you to pay attention to what you are reading and writing about as you have to fill in the margin at the edge and then write a summary of everything. This means that you avoid mindlessly taking notes (which is easy to do when you spend a lot of time doing this) so you will hopefully remember what you have learnt. Also, having to write a very short summary means you need to think about what the most important parts of the information are which is always helpful.

They are also useful when it comes to writing assingments. Instead of having to read through loads of your (possibly not very neat if you are anything like me with notetaking) writing to find what you need you can instead just scan the margins of your notes to find the topic you need and then read that part in more detail.


I hope you have found this post useful – leave a comment to let me know how you like to take notes 🙂

Ellen Allsop

Hello! I'm Ellen Allsop, the creator of EAsy :)

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