Cornell Note-Taking System

Do you have trouble making sense of your notes when you are studying? If so, try the Cornell System of note taking to help make notes more clear and to help you remember facts.

You can either buy Cornell style note paper at the bookstore or you can make your own. To make your own, measure 3 inches from the page’s left side and use a straight edge to draw a vertical line down the page.

Always label each page of notes with the course, date, and topic at the top of the page. This will help you identify your notes later on. Write your notes in the “Record Column” during class and fill in the “Recall Column” within 24 hours after class.


Recall Column: Key Points Record Column (Summary)
Record during class

During class:
Writing as briefly as you can in the Record Column during lecture.
Use abbreviations and shortened phrases.
Leave spaces between ideas so you can fill in more later if needed.
Leaving space also signals a switch in topics to your brain.

Identify and write key ideas

After class:
Fill in the Recall Column as soon as possible — within 24 hours.
Write key terms and questions.
Summarize ideas and facts.
Show relationships between points to strengthen memory.
Prepare for exams gradually and well ahead of time.

Recite from the Recall Column

To study notes, cover the Record Column.
Use the Recall Columns as a prompt to recite facts from the Record Column in your own words.
Uncover the Record Column and check facts.
This will help transfer ideas to your long term memory.

Reflect on possible text questions

Think — make sense out of the notes. Mark unclear concepts.
Find relationships and order.
Put ideas into categories and tie old material to new.
Predict which points will appear on tests.

Review to improve memory Review weekly to retain what you learned. Related present material to earlier material.

Print this handout.