Three Notetaking Methods to Help You This Semester

September 7th, 2016 by

If this is your first semester in college, or if you haven’t been in school for some time, then your note taking skills may be a little rusty. Here are three of the most popular note taking methods to help you start the semester strong. Remember, different note taking methods work better for different types of learners. Try out a couple and see what works best for you.

Outline Method

Ideal For: Taking notes from presentation outlines provided by the professor, such as a slide show; Taking notes from written material

With the Outline Method, notes are written in an organized layout based on indentation that mimics an outline.

First you write the main topic or general points of the lecture. Then indent the line below the main topic and write subtopics, indent again and record supporting details beneath each subtopic. When the professor introduces a new main topic, go back to the left side of the page and start again.


Ideal For: Content heavy lectures; Lectures with an unknown structure

The Mapping Method is similar to the Outline Method, but is visual and nonlinear.

Use boxes, bubbles or other shapes to outline main ideas, then draw arrows to subtopics and supporting details. This method makes it easy to highlight important points and show direct relationships between information. It works really well for visual learners and allows you to separate topics and information by shapes and color.

Cornell Method

Ideal For: Producing summaries and remembering key ideas; Studying for exams

The Cornell Method has you divide your note page into three sections, providing you with space for note-taking and review.

The first section is created by drawing a horizontal line 2 inches from the bottom of your page. The remaining space at the top of the page is divided again by drawing a vertical line 2.5 inches from the left hand side of the page.

The largest section is where you record notes during the lecture. Within 24 hours after the lecture, use the bottom section to summarize the material and the main points covered. The section on the left is for writing key words and ideas that can be used to create a study guide. You can also use this section to record questions you have for the professor.

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