The System
Cornell Notes is a method of note taking developed by Walter Pauk. The system helps students take notes and prepare to study in a more concise and logical fashion. It is also useful for other applications: meeting notes, general thought-capturing, etc.
 One Interpretation
Using the image at right note the four divisions. This is one interpretation of the system.
- I add Section A to the normal template just to hold my name, the class I'm in and the date. It's about a half an inch high.
- Section B is the review or study section, when you review your notes after class (although I often do it while in class) you write review questions that can be answered by the information in section C. This way you can just cover over the right side of the page to study, and the answer is right next to you. There is no flipping through books or multiple fluttering sheets of paper. This section is 2 1/2 inches wide, 8 1/2 high.
- Section C is where a student would normally take notes in their classes. The focus here should be on short bulleted lists of info, not long sentences of what the professor said. This section is 5 1/2 inches wide 8 1/2 inches high.
- Section D is for a brief synopsis of the information covered on the page; for example if you were in Physics "Newton's First Law, this law states 'An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.'" It is 2 inches tall and runs the width. I don't use this section too often and am thinking about shrinking it.
I've been using this system for a semester now, and it's great.
- Section A is kind of a hack, the Cornell Notes you'll find other places don't usually have this section; I just like it.
- I've found for economics classes, and likely for any other classes with graphing, it helps to throw little grey dots every quarter inch. This makes a grid that you can use for straight writing in non-graphing classes and a nice assistance to keep graphs straight and easy to read. (Alternatively, just use European-style notebooks with grids instead of horizontal ruled lines. And if you are doing graphs in economics classes, bring several different colored pens.)
 Related Links
- Cornell notes style lab book and Moleskine
- Cornell notes style page used by the NSFNET project, courtesy of Edward Vielmetti
- Cornell Notes Sheet PDF
- Create Custom Cornell Notes Sheet PDFs
- Another template in both 5.5x8.5 and A5 versions can be found in the D*I*Y Planner
- Notalon, an open source Cornell Notes software application (in Python, Windows binaries included, no Mac packaging as of 11/06)
- A review of Notalon.
- Microsoft Word Template for Cornell Note Taking
- Cornell Notes on 4x6 index card example layout