Cornell Note Taking System

ü   Record
Record in the note-taking area as many meaningful ideas and facts as possible during a lecture or discussion. Write legibly.  

ü      Reduce
As soon after as possible, summarize these facts and ideas concisely in the Cue Column. Summarizing clarifies meanings and relationships, reinforces continuity, and strengthens memory. 

ü      Recite
Cover the Note Taking Area, using only your jottings in the Cue Column, say over the facts and ideas of the lecture as fully as you can, not mechanically, but in your own words. Then, verify what you have said.

ü      Reflect
Draw out opinions from your notes and use them as a starting point for your own reflections on the course and how it relates to your other courses. Reflection will help prevent ideas from being inert and soon forgotten.  

ü      Review
Spend 10 minutes every week in quick review of your notes and you will retain most of what you have learned.

   Here's what your paper will look like…


Lesson Title                             1.5"       Date





Cue or Question Column





Note Taking Area


2"                        Summary Area

Note Taking Area  We are not suggesting that you change your normal style; rather, take notes as you normally do.  However, make sure to leave large spaces in your notes to add information later! 

Summaries Area:  Write a brief summary of that day's notes.  You can choose to either write it in paragraph form or to use a graphic organizer. 

Cue or Question Column:  In this column, write questions in the margins (see inside) or main ideas.

                                     An Example of the Cornell System
Taking Lecture Notes                                                                       03/21/00


What are the four parts to taking good lecture notes?

What are the four parts of preparing for a lecture?

What are the three components of physical preparation?


What are the six components of intellectual preparation for a lecture?

Taking good lecture notes involves

  1. preparing for the lecture in advance
  2. taking effective notes during the lecture
  3. revising the notes immediately after class
  4. studying the notes--as preparation for the next lecture, as    preparation for a test, and as preparation for any future use of this material.

Preparation in advance of class may involve physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual preparation.


Physical preparation includes getting sufficient sleep to be able to remain alert in class, getting the exercise necessary to remain physically fit, and eating nutritiously.


Intellectual preparation involves reading the syllabus and knowing what topic(s) will be covered each day.  Looking ahead in the book will help me prepare for the lecture. Reading assignments must be completed to prepare for possible discussions. Reviewing previous lectures may also help prepare for a new lecture, particularly if the lectures build upon each other.  Conducting my own research on the subject may also serve as good preparation.  Try to anticipate where the lecture will go; think of following lecture like following a good movie and trying to predict the ending.

There are 4 parts to taking good lecture notes. Preparation for a lecture should involve physical, intellectual, emotional and social preparation.

 Taken from Missouri State University’s Website: