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  • Micheal Daniel Micheal Daniel
  • 3 min read

Effective note taking strategies

Understanding the art of note-taking is crucial for students, professionals, and lifelong learners alike in an information-rich environment. Effective note-taking not only helps capture essential information but also enhances comprehension, retention, and organization. With various methods available, each tailored to different learning styles and contexts, it can be challenging to find the best approach. Let’s look at different methods

  1. The Cornell Method
  • Page Layout: Divide your paper into three sections:
    • Cue Column: A narrow column on the left (about 2.5 inches) for keywords, questions, or comments.
    • Note-Taking Column: A wider column on the right (about 6 inches) for detailed notes.
    • Summary Area: A section at the bottom of the page for summarizing the main ideas.
  • Note-Taking: During the lecture or reading, write down main ideas, facts, and concepts in the note-taking column.
  • Cues: After the lecture, fill in the cue column with questions or keywords that act as triggers for the information in your notes.
  • Summarization: Write a summary of the page’s notes in the bottom section. This reinforces learning and aids review.

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  1. The Outline Method
  • Structure: Organize notes in a hierarchical structure with main topics, subtopics, and details.
  • Indentation: Use different levels of indentation to denote the relationship between topics.
  • Example:
    • I. Main Topic
      • A. Subtopic
        • Detail
        • Detail
      • B. Subtopic
    • II. Another Main Topic
  • Application: Ideal for subjects with a clear structure, such as history or biology.
  1. Mind Mapping
  • Visual Representation: Start with a central idea and draw branches to related topics and subtopics.
  • Use Colors and Images: Enhance the mind map with colors, images, and symbols to make it more engaging and memorable.
  • Connections: Show relationships and connections between different concepts.
  • Example:
    • Central Idea: Photosynthesis
      • Branch: Light Reactions
        • Sub-Branch: Chlorophyll
      • Branch: Dark Reactions
        • Sub-Branch: Calvin Cycle
  1. Flow Notes
  • Non-linear: Write notes in a free-form style, allowing for a more natural flow of ideas.
  • Connections: Draw arrows and lines to show relationships between points.
  • Flexibility: Great for subjects that benefit from a more creative approach or brainstorming.
  • Example:
    • Main Idea: Global Warming
      • Arrow to: Causes (e.g., Greenhouse Gases)
      • Arrow to: Effects (e.g., Rising Sea Levels)
      • Arrow to: Solutions (e.g., Renewable Energy)
  1. The Charting Method
  • Tables: Create tables with columns for categories and rows for details.
  • Comparison: Useful for comparing and contrasting information.
  • Example:
Period Characteristics Major Events Key Figures
Medieval Feudal System Crusades Charlemagne
Renaissance Humanism Exploration Leonardo da Vinci
  1. Sentence Method
  • Sequential: Write each new piece of information as a separate sentence.
  • Numbered Lists: Number each sentence for easy reference.
  • Detail-Oriented: Suitable for capturing detailed information.
  • Example:
    • The cell is the basic unit of life.
    • Cells are divided into prokaryotic and eukaryotic.
    • Eukaryotic cells have a nucleus.
  1. Digital Note-Taking
  • Tools: Use digital note-taking apps like OneNote, Evernote, Notion, or Google Keep.
  • Features:
    • Synchronization: Sync notes across devices for easy access.
    • Multimedia: Incorporate images, audio recordings, links, and other multimedia elements.
    • Organization: Use tags, folders, and notebooks to organize notes.
  • Searchability: Easily search through notes for specific information.


Effective note-taking is a dynamic and adaptable skill that can significantly enhance your learning and productivity. By exploring and applying different strategies, such as the Cornell Method, Mind Mapping, and digital note-taking tools, you can find the approach that best suits your needs and preferences. Integrate general tips like active listening, regular review, and consistent formatting to refine your note-taking practice further.


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