UPDATE: Take Note: School’s in Session — First published in 2005, this item seems to get linked to various student sites whenever the colleges come back into session. So here it is again as part of our public service.
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 printer 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.