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Note-taking Systems

Develop a note-taking system that works for you!

There are many methods and systems for taking notes. 

Here is our preferred example (because you can add to it!).

Spiral or 3-ring notebooks

  • Use one for each subject
  • A larger notebook with divider tabs for multiple subjects would also work
  • Three-ring notebooks make it easy to insert pages
  • Use a 3-hole punch so you can hole punch handouts in class and put them in your notebook
  • If you ever miss a class, get a copy of the notes and insert them where they belong

Format your notes

  • Start a new page for each class
  • Write the topic, date, and chapter at the top of the page
  • Leave space to add information and key words later


Experiment with note-taking styles!

Cornell Format

      • Take notes as usual on the right two-thirds of the paper. After class add cue words and questions in the open left margin. As you review your notes, cover your cue column and quiz yourself.

Traditional Outline

      • Write main points in headings (with Roman Numerals); write sub-points in the next lower level (with capital letters), and add the supporting details in the lowest level (with numbers).


      • Write main points in a large center circle, write sub-points in extensions of the center in smaller circles; branch supporting details off of each smaller circle.  Adding a variety of shapes and colors will serve as memory cues as you review your notes.