Taking notes is a very useful practice whenever you need to process or remember a large amount of information, like during a class lecture or a corporate meeting, or a seminar. But there are many different ways of note-taking, and some methods are not as effective as others. If you want to achieve the best results, we strongly advise that you use the Cornell note-taking system.

What are Cornell notes?

Cornell notes are considered by many to be the best kind of notes that you can take. They are distinguished by notably short sentences and the liberal use of easily recognizable symbols and abbreviations. Because they are simple and concise and basically devoid of distractions, the Cornell notes enable you to retain data more easily and more quickly.

What is the Cornell note-taking system?

Developed by Cornell University’s Prof. Walter Paul in the 1950s, the Cornell note-taking system is the most widely used method of note-taking by students and professionals alike. Its format includes three parts – one for cues, one for the actual notes, and one for the summary. A title is also often included, although it is optional.

In the Cornell note-taking system, the page is divided into two columns. The left column is for the cues and takes up approximately 30% of the total page width. The right column is for the bulk of the notes and takes up the remaining 70% of the total width. Approximately 5 lines or maybe 2 inches, depending on the size of your paper, towards the bottom part of the page is allotted for the summary.

Benefits of using Cornell notes

Making a habit of using the Cornell note-taking system yields multiple benefits, including the following.


Compared to other methods of note-taking, the Cornell system is definitely way ahead when it comes to efficiency. By encouraging the use of short notes and abbreviations, you are left with the most concise notes that you can possibly have. It also helps save time and keeps you focused on the most important topics.


The simple format used in the Cornell note-taking system keeps not only your notes but also your thoughts organized. This makes for better information absorption and a better understanding of the topics.

Easy review

Referring back to your notes at a later time if you need to check on something is very easy because of the Cornell structure. This will save you a lot of time and effort.

How to take Cornell notes

Here are the very easy steps that you need to follow in order to take Cornell notes.

Divide the page

Draw lines to create two columns for the cues and the notes, as well as a small section at the bottom for the summary, as described earlier.

Take notes

During the lecture, take notes in the Notes area, making sure to include all key topics but also being mindful of using the shortest possible sentences.

Write cues

After the lecture, write questions, keywords, or other recall prompts based on what you have written in the notes area, and place these in the Cues area.

Write summary

As soon as possible after the lecture, quickly review your notes and write a summary of what the entire session was all about.

Tips and best practices to get the most out of the Cornell notes template

You can get the most out of Cornell notes by being as brief as possible, while making sure that you don’t miss any important topics. Skip a line between ideas to keep your notes organized.

It would also help a lot if you create a list of the abbreviations and symbols that you expect to use, prior to the lecture.

Cornell notes example

One of the most frequent applications of Cornell notes is in school as students often use it for taking notes during class lectures. It is also useful for taking notes during a meeting, seminar, or training at work.