Taking notes, especially in a rush could be very difficult, and often, because of such haste, you might end up writing something that you will fail to understand when you refer to it later. You need to be organized when taking notes as this ensures that you will understand what you write down all the time. One sure way you can make this happen is by taking notes using a Cornell notes template.

Cornell Notes Templates

What are Cornell notes?

Cornell notes is a system of note-taking that made its first appearance back in the 1950s. Its developer was Walter Pauk, a professor at Cornell University. Using a Cornell notes template involves the taking down of notes in an organized way.

This invention first appeared in one of Pauk’s famous books entitled, “How to Study in College.” It is in this work that the Cornell method became effective. The book contains a lot of details about the system and other types of study strategies.

Using the Cornell notes format involves dividing one page into three sections. The first section is for class discussion and the information taught by the instructor. It also recommends leaving space between the main points to fill up other relevant details.

Why is Cornell notes effective?

Surprisingly, note-taking is never taught in schools. Therefore, students had to learn either by instinct or imitation. Often, we write down notes word for word. We jot down information that we don’t even process at all. But is it more effective to use a Cornell notes template?

This method helps college and high school students. Its aim was supposedly to help process large amounts of information during lectures. By making their own Cornell notes example, students can organize their thoughts, listen more attentively, and take notes faster.

Cornell Notes Formats

How to write Cornell notes template?

The Cornell notes format is very simple. All you need is a standard letter-sized piece of paper. Then, divide the page into 3 sections:

  • First is the Cue Column for keywords, definitions, and questions
  • Second is the Note Column for main notes
  • Third is the Summary Column for short explanations of the main topic

Here are the easy steps to create a Cornell notes Word template on your computer:

  • Set the page dimensions
    Launch Microsoft Word.
    From the Page Layout tab, choose Margins
    Choose Custom Margins
    In the Page Setup dialog, input 0 for the Left, Right, and Bottom margins. For the Top margin, input 1″.
  • Create the table
    From the Insert tab, choose Table.
    Choose Insert Table.
    Input 2 for the columns and 34 for the rows.
    Right-click any of the table cells in the first column.
    click Select then Column. Do this to change the shade of the first column.
  • Create the Cue column
    All of the rows in the first column so it won’t have lines.
  • Customize the table properties
    Right-click the first column 1 and choose Table Properties.
    Click the Column tab and input 2.4 for the Preferred Width.
    Click on Next Column.
    Input 6 for the second column’s Preferred Width.
    Click on the Row tab.
    Check the box for Specify Height and input 0.25.
    In the Row Height, choose Exactly.
  • Save the template you’ve created
    From the File menu, choose Save As.
    Find a location for your file
    Click Save.

Cornell Notes Examples

How to take Cornell notes?

The strength of the Cornell notes format lies in its page layout. The top of the page is where you write the name of your course, seminar or meeting alongside the date and the main topic. As you go down, you divide the page into sections:

  • The column on the right is for taking short notes.
  • The column on the left is for any questions relevant to the notes near the bottom of the page.
  • Near the bottom of the page is a space allotted for short summaries.

Here is how you take notes using a Cornell notes template:

  • Record or take down notes
    In the column for note-taking, record your notes during the lecture. Practice the use of telegraphic sentences. The Notes Column is significantly wider as it contains most of your notes.
    For clearer notes, use short phrases and bullet points. Using abbreviations is a great idea too. You can skip lines for separating thoughts and feel free to utilize headers. Make sure to write down only meaningful information. Don’t waste time taking notes verbatim.
  • Practice writing down keywords
    Use the Keywords to write down significant keywords. This means getting the main idea, important people, main points, significant places, and important dates. Ideally, the words here should align with the lines in the Notes Column as this acts as the Cue section for reviewing your notes and making clarifications.
  • Write down questions
    After the class has ended, take some time to formulate questions as soon as possible. Use the notes on the right-hand column as your basis. These inquiries will help you reveal relationships, clarify meanings, strengthen memory, and establish continuity. Additionally, writing questions sets the stage for exam-studying in the future.
  • Write your summary
    The Summary Section at the bottom of the page is where you start with your homework. Each day’s end, review your notes then write down a summary of the whole lecture. Keep in mind that you should base the summary only on what you wrote in the Keyword column. Write down what you have learned in around 5 to 7 lines.
  • Review out loud
    The next step is to cover the Notes column with a piece of paper. Then, look at the cue words or questions. Using only these, recite loudly in your own words, the answers to the questions, ideas or facts.
  • Reflect on what you have learned
    Reflect on the day’s lesson by asking yourself questions. For instance, what do the facts you learned mean? What is the basis of the principles you learned? How can you apply what you’ve learned in your life?
  • Review your previous notes too
    Make it a point to review all your previous notes for at least 10 minutes each week. Doing this enables you to retain a great deal of the material for current use, not to mention always being confidently prepared for exams.