Effective Note Taking Methods

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Having good note taking methods is crucial in order to review course instruction and prepare for tests or for real life case scenarios. In this article we will review 7 methods for effective note taking that will assist you in your learning journey and applying methodology in real life situations.

Student Notetaking Methods

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The following note taking methods are widely used techniques and were developed by educators over time, except for the Cornell Method.

Cornell Method

The Cornell Method of note taking was developed by Walter Pauk, a professor at Cornell University.

This method of not taking involves dividing a sheet of paper into three sections. One column is a cue column, the middle section is a note-taking column, and the third column is a summary section.

The cue column is used to write key words or phrases. The note-taking column is used to take notes, and the summary section is used to write a summary of the notes.

The Cornell method is designed to help students organize and retain information by breaking it down into key concepts and summarizing main ideas. It may be especially helpful for learners who need a clear structure to their notes.


The outline method of note taking is a method which involves organizing notes into a hierarchical structure, with main ideas represented by Roman numerals and sub-ideas represented by letters or numbers.

Not a very a exciting method of note taking, but it is a very structured and organized method.

The outlining method may be especially helpful for learners who need a clear overview of the material.


The mapping method involves creating a visual representation of the relationships between different ideas. This is done using a diagram, chart, or concept map.

This method is a visual method that helps learners to see the relationships between ideas and concepts. It may be especially helpful for learners who are visual learners and need to see the connections between ideas.


The abbreviation method involves using shorthand to take notes quickly. This can include using symbols, abbreviations, or acronyms to represent common words or phrases.

Shorthand becomes messy as you try to script while the lecturer is speaking quickly.

The problem with this method is that if your writing isn’t clear you may not know the long form of the word or remember what you were writing at the time.

The abbreviation method is designed to help learners take notes quickly, it may be especially helpful for learners who need to take notes fast, such as in lectures or meetings.

Sentence Method

The sentence method involves writing notes in complete sentences to make it easier to understand the context of the material.

This method is designed to help learners understand the context of the material. It may be especially helpful for learners who need more context and background information.

Active Listening

Active listening method involves focusing and paying attention during class, and not just writing down everything that is being said.

With this method you learn as you listen.

The active listening method helps learners to focus on the material and understand it better. It may be especially helpful for learners who have difficulty focusing and retaining information.


The personalization method involves adapting the note-taking technique to your own learning style, making it easier to understand and retain the information.

Learners who are struggling with organization and retention may benefit from this method by adapting the note-taking technique to fit their specific needs and preferences.

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The Cornell Method, Outlining, Mapping, Sentence Method and Active Listening are the best methods of note taking for students.

Because individuals have different styles of learning, some methods may work better for courses while other methods work better for meetings.

It will take practice to determine which method is right for you.

About Us

Amy & Steph

Oh hello. Hi, I’m Amy and I’ve worked for a large educational organization with over 12,000 employees for more than 30 years.  Specializing in Human Resources Management and the field of administration, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned throughout my career and in my spare time. 

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