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Taking Notes

Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a popular note-taking approach that's helpful in class, while reading textbooks, and when using online resources.

This system helps you take notes, condense key ideas, and organize your study notes in one place.

How to Use the Cornell Note-Taking Method

How to Take Notes Using the Cornell Method

  1. Set up your page: Divide your page into three sections: a Cue column on the left, a Note column on the right, and a Summary area at the bottom of the page. Use the Word template or PDF template above to try out the Cornell method now!
  2. Start with the Notes Column: Take notes as you normally would in the Notes column.
  3. Fill in your Cue column: Fill in your Cue column based on the notes you took in step 2. Use questions, key terms, and headings to help you quickly understand what the notes you took relate to.
  4. Fill in your Summary section: Summarize the notes from this page into one or two key learning outcomes.

Pros & Cons of the Cornell Method


  • Allows you to record and review notes in one place.
  • Faster to highlight major concepts and ideas.
  • Encourages students to reflect on material while writing (active learning).


  • Summarizing content and identifying questions takes more effort.
  • Note-taking column has limited space if you are hand-writing notes.

When to Use the Cornell Method

Use the Cornell Method when

  • You want to keep your class notes and study notes in the same space.
  • You want to participate in class discussion and not focus solely on copying notes.
  • You want to practice summarizing information from a course (e.g. when your test has short answers or essays).