Cornell Note Taking System

22 Jul 2019  GG  1 min read.


  • Prevents forgetting
  • Encourages concentration
  • Records testable material
  • Is a note taking and a study system



  1. Prepare your notepaper
    • Create two-column table
    • The left hand column should take up about 1/3 and the right hand column should be 2/3 of your writing space
  2. Summarize and paraphrase
    • Restate in your own words the facts and ideas presented
    • Record definitions as stated or written
  3. Indicate changes in topic
    • Use headings and leave space between topics
  4. Number, indent or bullet
    • Key ideas presented with each topic
  5. Brief sentences, abbreviations and symbols
    • Increase your note taking speed
  6. Write legibly
    • Make sense to you later
  7. Edit as soon as possible


  1. Formulate test questions based on the information recorded in notes
  2. Write them in the recall clues column on the left-hand side of notes


  1. Recitation
    • Explain the information in the notes out loud
    • Information should be triggered by the test questions in the recall clues column
  2. Purpose
    • Improves learning
    • Ensures understanding
    • Facilitates retrieval
  3. Steps
    • Cover up
    • Use recall cluse
    • Check your answers


  1. Think about the information you are learning
  2. Look for connections with your own experiences and observations
  3. Ask questions
    • How do the main ideas fit together into a bigger picture?
    • How do these ideas fit in with what you have already learned?
    • What do you agree with?
    • What do you disagree with?
    • Which ideas are clear?
    • Which ideas are confusing?
    • What new questions do you have?


  1. Write a summary of the main ideas using your own words
  2. Use the bottom summary section to write a summary of all the notes on the last page of your note sheets


  1. Review nightly or several times during the week by reciting, not rereading
  2. Frequent, brief sessions aid more complete comprehension

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