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Cornell Note Taking Method

diagram illustrating the Cornell note taking method: a 2.5 inch cue column on the left, a 6 inch note taking area on the right, and a 2 inch summary area at the bottom of the pageNote Taking Area: Record lecture as fully and as meaningfully as possible.

Cue Column: As you're taking notes, keep cue column empty. Soon after the lecture, reduce your notes to concise jottings as clues for Reciting, Reviewing, and Reflecting.

Summaries: Sum up each page of your notes in a sentence or two.

This format provides the perfect opportunity for following through with the 5 R's of note-taking:

  • Record
    During the lecture, record in the main column as many meaningful facts and ideas as you can. Write legibly.
  • Reduce
    As soon after as possible, summarize these facts and ideas concisely in the Cue Column. Summarizing clarifies meanings and relationships, reinforces continuity, and strengthens memory.
  • Recite
    Cover the Note Taking Area, using only your jottings in the Cue Column, say over the facts and ideas of the lecture as fully as you can, not mechanically, but in your own words. Then, verify what you have said.
  • Reflect
    Draw out opinions from your notes and use them as a starting point for your own reflections on the course and how it relates to your other courses. Reflection will help prevent ideas from being inert and soon forgotten.
  • Review
    Spend 10 minutes every week in quick review of your notes, and you will retain most of what you have learned.

Adapted from How to Study in College 7/e by Walter Pauk, 2001 Houghton Mifflin Company