How do you take notes? At times, we are so busy that we do not have time to take notes in an organized manner and end up taking them roughly. But they do not really help like the ones taken in an organized manner. If the notes are not of help at the time of need, there is no point of taking them in the first place.

One of the best ways to take your notes in an organized manner and ensuring that they definitely help you out is taking Cornell notes. If you want to know more about these notes, read this article and understand its nuts and bolts.

What are Cornell Notes?

The Cornell notes is a notes taking system that was invented back in 1950s by Walter Pauk. He was an education professor at Cornell University. This system was invented by him for taking notes in an organized manner. It was introduced in one of his famous books, How to Study in College. The Cornell notes taking method became effective because of this book. This book has several details about this method and other study strategies.

The Cornell notes taking method ensures to divide a single page in three sections namely Cues, Notes, and Summary Section. The section of the notes is used for the class discussion and what the instructor teaches students. Besides the notes section, you should leave some extra space between some main points so that other details can easily be filled, such as other important points.

Cornell Notes Templates


In addition to the notes section, cues section would come down soon after the class is over. This section is used for reviews and studies in order to include questions that could come in your exam, vocabulary words and main ideas. The third section, the summary section is included at the end of the page. This section helps you briefly sum up the notes on the page of the main points.

With these three sections, Cornell notes help organize notes, dividing information vertically on a sheet of paper. One of the best approaches and methods for students, who want a successful career, can opt for the Cornell note-taking template. There are certain Cornell notes templates available on our main website so that you can take help of it and efficiently prepare for your exams. Additionally, we have several types of templates available with different sequence and formats.

We have Cornell notes templates in word form so that you can print it and use it. Specifically talking about the format, there are different types of formats for the Cornell notes templates too. The Cornell note-taking method specifies key points that would be written on the left while the right hand side would cover the supporting details. This format is a common one while the one mentioned above is rare.

Cornell Notes Taking System Explained

According to the book, the Cornell University briefly defines the method of using the notes in the effective manner. Here are some of the main things that should be followed in a Cornell notes template. Students should focus on it in order to make the efficient use of the Cornell notes.


As a student, you should record and write every single thing told by your instructor. So, the first step in order to make the best use of the Cornell notes is to record the lecture using telegraphic sentences. These are the shorter sentences just containing five to six words or even less than that. This is a name given to the shorter sentences. These sentences would help you write quickly. When you read those recorded phrases, you will securely recall all what was explained in the class by your instructor.


As soon as you are done recording the telegraphic sentences, next step is to make questions based on the notes on the right hand side. These questions would help you reveal the relationships, understand the meanings of what was explained in the class, strengthen your memory and establish continuity in the context. Apart from this, these questions would be great for studying during the exam days or some time later. Also, they are good for combined studies if you are studying with your friends.


You should cover the section under the recitation with a paper. After that, you should look over the questions or key words in the questions. Once you have seen the cue-words or the keywords, say them out loud and give answer to all of those questions, ideas and facts.


When you ask questions from yourself, you get to explore the topic and go in the depth of the context. This can help you in understanding the context even better and explore the insight. You can ask questions like what are the principles on which they are based on, what the importance of those facts is, how to apply for those facts and how does it fit inside what you have understood from the context.


When you have maintained your notes, make sure that you review them too. In order to make the best use of Cornell notes, you should spend at least ten minutes every week and review all your previous notes. Reviewing them daily would help you in retaining the deal for your exam, current use as well as later.

Cornell notes are a very simple way to take notes interactively. Also, they help students review notes systematically. Those students who want to score high and get good grades, this note taking method is effective for them ensuring higher level of thinking skills.

Cornell Notes Examples

Uses of Cornell Notes

Cornell notes are generally used among students for studies but they can also be used by other people. Check out some common uses of Cornell notes.

  • You can use the Cornell notes for traditional lectures.
  • You can use them for written materials.
  • You can use them for your PowerPoint presentation.

From students to professionals, Cornell notes can be of help for anyone who wants to take notes. Mostly, they are used by students because they are the ones who require notes frequently.

How to Take Cornell Notes?

The Cornell notes taking method is an old one and is being used since 1950. It is used for reviewing, reading retaining the material. When you use the Cornell notes, you can improve the study skills, learn academic success and create knowledge. Check out what are the steps you need to follow for taking down the Cornell notes. We have developed the steps from a student’s perspective.

Mark the Name of the Course

The first thing that you should do is to mark the name of the course along with the date. You should do this consistently which will then help you keep your notes in an organized manner. This action will make your course context much easier.

Take Notes on the Bigger Section

When you are listening to the lecture or reading through the text, you should make sure that you take notes on the largest section which is on the right-hand side of the page. In this section, you should use telegraphic sentences as mentioned above. You should use phrases to help you understand what you are learning. Also, you should include necessary information in the section.

Use Notes to Read and Listen

When you see that your instructor is telling something really very important, make sure that you look for things that are important. For instance, if your instructor comes up saying something that is really very important or tells the significance of the material, make sure to underline it or highlight it.

Ensure to Keep it Simple

Make sure that you keep your notes as the outline of the lecture. You should always focus on the main points in order to stay up with the lecture. Instead of writing complete sentences, you should use bullet points and use abbreviations like St. e.g. etc. Also, you can use your own note-taking symbol if you have any. For example, if you want to write and, you can use &. The shorter version will make it easier for you to keep write the information. Also, you will be able to write everything quickly.

Write Down General Ideas

When you are taking notes of the lecture, you should make sure that you only write down the big ideas in the lecture that help you understand the concept and not put all the ideas or examples of the lecture. . If you hurry to write everything while taking the notes, you will not necessarily be able to understand it properly.

Listen to what your instructor is saying and then jot down the sentences in a telegraphic form. This would also save your time and space as well as build up a good understanding. Additionally, it would force you to create connections between the expressions and presented ideas.

Space, Margin and Begin with a New Page

Once you are done writing down the general ideas, you will then be able to mentally organize the material. You should leave a space, draw a margin and begin writing the new ideas with a new page. It will help you focus on studying different parts whenever you require.

Write Questions

When you do not understand things properly, you should write questions about it. You should jot down some questions in your notes and elucidate what you actually understand from the notes. This would be useful for studying everything later. It will broaden the horizon of context you have written.

Edit Notes

Now that you are done writing notes and questions, you should proofread and edit it. There may be parts that are difficult to read. Also, there can be parts which do not seem to make sense, you should make sure to edit and fix them.

Cornell Notes Format

Ensure to Avoid These Mistakes When Taking Cornell Notes

Taking notes is important for you especially if you are a student. These notes would later help you in studying for your your exams. Now that you know how to write Cornell notes, you should also learn to avoid certain mistakes taking these notes.


Well, lectures may get boring at times, but you have to focus. Doodling can cut down your focus from the lecture, so make sure that you do not draw in the middle of your notes. It is just a matter of few hours; make sure that you take notes properly. If the drawing is related to the lecture, you can surely draw it.

Mixing Up Things

If you have many courses, you should be making separate Cornell notes for every course. Also, keep separate notes for each course. When you have organized everything separately, you will never end up mixing up things which is often done by several students.

Untitled Things

How will you know what exactly your notes are about if you have not given title to anything? When you do not label or provide date to anything on the page, you will likely not be able to remember things. This is why it is necessary to include titles for effective study session.

Cornell Notes Style

If you are also a student or want to jot down notes for anything important, we have templates for Cornell notes on our main website. Simply download them and get them printed for taking notes in the long run.

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TemplateLab April 29th, 2021