January 20, 2005

Free Cornell Note Forms for American Digest Readers


Taking better notes requires having better tools. Of all the various note taking systems I've used over the years, the best, by far, is "The Cornell Note Taking System" which was created by Walter Pauk, an emeritus professor at Cornell.

Deceptively simple, the Cornell System supplies an armature that both organizes notes and encourages review and summarization. I use it for reading, research, and for planning and organizing projects from the simple to the complex.

As an added advantage, I find that rigorous use of the Cornell system also aids and improves memory.

For a long time, I've used the templates here as the basis of notes. When I run low, I just have my laser printed spew out a few dozen. Having a pre-printed form for notes creates, I've discovered, better notes in the long run -- and it makes them more useful when you need to refer to them.

I'm making my templates available for free on the Web today in downloadable PDF format. You can use them as you wish and distribute them as you will. All I ask is that you pass them along as is.

The three files are:
1)    CornellNoteSystem.pdf <--- (40kb)     This is the classic explanation how the note forms are used and in what order complete with graphic examples. This is essential if the system is to work for you. If you post these forms on another site, make sure this file is always included, otherwise the forms won't make immediate sense to the user.

2)     CornellNotesPlain.pdf <--- (16kb)    The Cornell Note System formatted for printing on blank paper. US Letter Size. Make sure to select "Fit to Page" from the Adobe Reader Print Menu.

3)     CornellNotesGraph.pdf <--- (16kb)    The same structure but with a light 1/4" graph background for those who like some structure behind the structure. US Letter Size. Make sure to select "Fit to Page" from the Adobe Reader Print Menu.

That's it. And, take note, the gift must move. Pass them on.

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Posted by Vanderleun at January 20, 2005 1:13 PM | TrackBack
Save to del.icio.us


"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

This is the shizznit! I'm swiping these for my statistics students, NOW.

Posted by: slimedog at January 20, 2005 2:24 PM

Thanks! Do you have one for meetings? ;-)

Posted by: Stephen B at January 20, 2005 5:23 PM

I feel like bragging.

I sometimes took notes, but later realized it interfered with my listening. I was listening for what to write down, instead of listening to what was actually said, the whole point.

So I stopped taking notes and listened, and always got A's because I had a good memory and I read the assigned texts.

Notes, when you're young and in college, are a waste of time. Practice listening carefully. That will do the trick.

Posted by: mark butterworth at January 20, 2005 7:29 PM

Great system - I can see that it works for taking notes at the office and many other places - but it'll help my kids.


Posted by: EagleSpeak at January 20, 2005 8:09 PM

what a great idea! thanks for sharing it. it may save my life.

oh, and for mark butterworth, when i was younger, i followed your system. but then i got older and the memory doesn't work as well, also switched to law where notes are one's life. and the older me found that i couldn't take adequate notes. like i said, this system may save my life. or at least make it easier.

Posted by: pushkina at January 21, 2005 2:01 AM

Mark: That approach didn't work well for me when I was in college. I can listen to what a speaker is saying and remember it, but the information goes into short-term memory. Writing it down, for some reason, tends to activate my long-term memory. I often found that if I took notes, I ended up not needing them because I remembered what I wrote. If I didn't take notes, I found that I wished I had.

Just listening and remembering was sometimes good enough to get me through the next test, or even the final exam, but eventually that information vanished from my brain. On the other hand, I still have all my college notes and can refer to them if I need to.

Posted by: Pat Berry at January 21, 2005 9:33 AM

if only we could have msword format of such note paper. As laptop is more wildely used in classroom, having such notepaper in editable word formate would be very much welcomed.

Posted by: Robert at January 23, 2005 8:03 AM

Well, some have Word and some don't. I'm one that doesn't. Some have macs, some PCs, some linux, some other OS.

The PDF is pretty much the standard doc format these days and that's what it is. I'm sure some dedicated student can figure out how to do something similar in Word in about, oh, 10 seconds. (It is not exactly 'text-heavy.')

As they say at my step-son's pre-school (when he was in pre-school):
"You get what you get
and you don't throw a fit."

Posted by: Van der Leun at January 23, 2005 8:10 AM

Whatever type of computer or software you want to use to take notes, you can recreate this form by making a table with two columns and two rows. This gives you four cells. Merge the bottom two cells to create the "Summary" cell. Move the line between the top two cells to the left to give the sized columns you wish. Click in the top right cell and start taking notes. Ta da! You can go back later the fill in the top left column.

Posted by: Shauna at October 17, 2005 12:38 PM

I'm writing my thesis on the topic "What impact does Cornell Notes have on student learning?" If any of you have anything to contribute on this topic please forward them to me, your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: Lee at December 4, 2005 5:53 PM

I have been teaching Cornell notes for 4 years.. The students like the notes because they are easier to study from than outline format. They know exactly where to find important info. Also the new content texts are organized into a Cornell friendly note taking format.


Posted by: Mitzi Merek at May 11, 2006 12:40 PM

Great stuff! I can't wait to get to work Monday and try it out.

Posted by: Dan at March 11, 2007 2:18 AM

want to see what it is like

Posted by: calcin wood at September 18, 2007 10:49 AM

ive used cornell notes in high school and didnt like them at all. i thought they were stupid and why would i follow someone else's way of note taking when there my notes? well i never got onto liking cornell notes, but i did get used to taking them. it does help, though, to write a little summary at the end of note taking.

Posted by: chelsea johnston at November 1, 2007 2:07 PM
Post a comment:

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated to combat spam and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Remember personal info?