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How to Take Outline & Cornell Notes

by edgab

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taking notes

Taking notes on your course readings is very important.  By not actually “sitting” in a lecture hall, it’s easy not take notes and just skim the readings to get the assignment done….don’t do that!! Sit down and read your course readings and take notes.  It’s typically the only time you can document what you are reading using your own words and in a way that’s effective for you.  Make sure your notes are helping you and not hindering you by reviewing how to take Cornell and outline notes.

Cornell Method

The Cornell Method was developed by Walter Pauk at Cornell University in 1949. Many law school students are required to use this method because of its effectiveness. This method is helpful for:

  • Studying notes
  • Finding information quickly
  • Developing a test study guide

It’s easy to prepare your paper for the 3 sections in Cornell Notes: 

  1. Notes: space where actual notes are taken
  2. Summary: space where you summarize the major points of your notes
  3. Recall Section: where you formulate questions based on your notes

See a template of the Cornell Note-Taking System here

Outline Method

The outline note-taking method is extremely popular.  It follows the typical outline we all learned in grade school and high school.  Key ideas are represented by Roman numerals, and supporting ideas emphasized using uppercase letters, numbers, or lowercase letters.  How you format your outline is up to you. Just be sure it makes sense and you keep it consistent throughout your notes. Here are some additional tips:

  • Don’t stress about the accuracy of your use of Roman numerals, letters, & numbers
  • Include meaningful phrases, described by Van Blerkom as condensed versions of sentences that still contain critical concepts presented
  • Approach your notes as if you were writing answers to test questions
  • Find a template to get started. Check out edgab’s outline note-taking template or use Microsoft Word outline templates

What type of notes are you taking? How are you taking effective notes? Share your comments below and be on the lookout for more ways to take notes!

Hey! Any thoughts?