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What Are the Different Note-taking Methods?

I would wager the majority of students use the sentence method of note-taking. In the sentence method, you just grab a piece of paper and try to write down everything your professor is saying. Unfortunately, what you are going to end up with is a big sheet of paper that is covered with writing which really difficult to find necessary information in. So, is there a unique note-taking guide to write faster? How to take pretty notes and how to organize them? In an effort to help students along the way to graduation we have written this article and launched online essay help.

Important Attributes of Great Note-taking Systems


Note-taking System



What is in a good note-taking system? First off, aesthetic is important. To tell the truth, I enjoy art, journalism, history and I like the aesthetics of study spaces, books, and libraries. But if your writing is aesthetic, the act of note-taking makes the studying more enjoyable, even for the subjects that you hate. Sometimes you need just to make your notes aesthetically pleasing, in a sort of an art form.


At the same time, you have to be super practical about it. It is good being aesthetic but it is also important to be able to keep up with your professor even when he is talking at lightning speed. Note-taking is all about organizing the information in a way that makes sense in your brain. Your note-taking methods should be adaptable. For example, your color-coding system should apply to every single subject and every style of note-taking. You may ask, what to choose – handwritten or typed notes? Personally, I prefer the first ones. They allow you more freedom in how you lay out your information and how you organize it on the page.

The last question I want to raise before diving into different types of fast note-taking is what classes should you use your handwritten notes for? Humanities or theory-based classes lend themselves well to handwritten notes. So, these are classes that involve graphs, brainstorming or lots of practice questions and not very solid predetermined information.

Note-taking Methods

Whether you are willing to start learning more effectively or gain overall success at college, the ability to take notes during lectures is a valuable skill which will be helpful for your studying and future employment. It is a great way to collect, remember, reproduce, and recall the information. Here are key note-taking methods which will help you to boost your college grades.

Outline Method of Note-taking

In an outline, you are going to organize the lecture and the notes you are taking. So, your professor will begin with their major point. Label that “I” and write down what it is. Then they are going to get into more details about it. Under the “I” you need to write “A” (detail one). There also might be sub details about it, mark it as “1, 2, 3”. So, it goes from major issue to something a little smaller. Then if they bring up another detail, you will write that under “B” and repeat the process.

Consecutive numeration helps to easily make references from one point of your notes to the other, keeping the workbook clear, simple, yet precise. This way when you get to the end of the lecture, you will have notes that are organized, they are a lot easier to study from when it comes time for you to review so you can ace next quiz or test.

So, basically, in outline note-taking method, you jot down everything you hear during the lecture while fixing each new sentence from the new line and giving them numbers (or letters) in sequence, 1, 2, 3, etc.

Cornell System of Note-taking


Taking notes



You take a piece of paper and divide it into three separate areas with one vertical line in the center and one bottom horizontal line. Put a line right across about two inches from the bottom (it is a summary area), and then put a line down about two inches from the side (cue area). The biggest part of the paper is called the note part. The right section of the column will respond for general text. Left side is to be briefly filled with the main thesis, including the most important notes, such as the main ideas, data, names, dates. The bottom section is used for a summary of your lecture notes.


So, now there are three separate areas. The major points should be written in the Cue area. On the other side of the line (note area) write down why is that point important, what do you need to know about it? For everything that your professor brings up, use the same method. For example, write down dates or terms in the “Cue part” and definitions in the “Note side”. At the end of class, review the page and jot down a summary at the bottom in your own words.

The great thing about Cornell method of note-taking is when it comes time to study. You can take the piece of paper that you have divided right out of your notebook, fold down the “Cue” line and go right down the “Cue” column. You will see major point one. Remember what you need to know about each point, then flip it over and see the details you forgot to mention.

Flow Method

Flow note-taking method is exactly what it sounds. It is all about what is in your head. The flow method uses the holistic approach to note-taking. It is opposed to the outline method. You are not trying to get every single detail from the lecture down to your paper. You can draw arrows between things that connect, write things in the margins, draw shapes from scratch and so on.

It is rather about learning while you are sitting in class. As you take notes, you create a paper that represents your mental image of a subject.

Flow method of note-taking is considered to be the most abstract one. You write down the main ideas of the lecture, however, the core of your notes is your own ideas and comments.

Mind Mapping

When your professor introduces the topic, write it out in the middle of the paper and put a circle around it. The additional information about the topic you are going to put around this circle. During the lecture, you will add so-called branches with the keywords and core ideas. So, it looks like a mind map. Make as many circles as you want. In this method, you organize the lecture in a very visual way. Another great thing about it is that you can easily see the connections between different things. It works perfectly for history classes, for example.

So, using the mind mapping method, the main subject of your notes will be put in the center of the sheet. Mind-map is a complex approach to create an expanded scheme rather than traditional note-taking systems at college.

Bill Gates’ Method

It is one of my favorite note-taking methods just because it is simple and well-organized. All you need to do is to divide a sheet into squares, therefore each box will be filled with information of a specific theme. For example, a box with questions which appear during the lecture and a box with key terms of the lecture.

We totally understand that you are a student, not a dictation machine, that is why choose the best note-taking method, which works perfectly for you, and enjoy the process of studying!

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