Note-taking methods

Note-taking methods
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Note-taking is essential for anyone looking to improve their productivity, memory retention, and learning ability. While there are countless methods for taking notes, specific strategies have proven particularly effective in achieving these goals. This article will explore the top five note-taking methods and provide references to support their effectiveness.

  1. Cornell Method
    The Cornell Method is a popular note-taking strategy students and professionals use. It is characterized by dividing your notes into three sections: a narrow column on the left for cues, a wide column on the right for notes, and a summary section at the bottom. The cues section is used for keywords, questions, and key concepts, while the notes section records detailed information. Finally, the summary section briefly overviews the main points covered in the notes. This method has been shown to improve recall and retention and facilitate effective review (Piolat, Olive, & Kellogg, 2005).
  2. Mind Mapping
    Mind mapping is a visual note-taking strategy that allows you to organize your thoughts non-linearly. It involves starting with a central idea and then branching into related concepts. Each branch represents a different topic or subtopic; additional details can be added as needed. Mind mapping is particularly effective for brainstorming and idea generation, as it encourages free association and creative thinking (Farrand, Hussain, & Hennessy, 2002).
  3. Outline Method
    The Outline Method is a hierarchical note-taking strategy that organizes information in a structured outline format. It begins with a main topic or heading, followed by subheadings and then supporting details. This method is ideal for organizing large amounts of information, allowing you to see the relationships between different topics and subtopics (Kiewra, 1985).
  4. Charting Method
    The Charting Method is a note-taking strategy that involves creating a table or chart to organize information. This method is particularly useful for recording data, statistics, and other quantitative information. The chart can be customized to fit the user's specific needs, with columns and rows representing different categories of information. This method has improved comprehension and recall of complex details (Liu & Reed, 2017).
  5. Sentence Method
    The Sentence Method is a linear note-taking strategy that involves writing down information in complete sentences. This method is ideal for capturing detailed information and preserving context. It is also helpful for recording quotes or other important details that require precision. While it can be more time-consuming than other methods, it has improved comprehension and retention (Van Meter & Yokoi, 2008).

In conclusion, note-taking is essential for anyone looking to improve their learning and productivity. The Cornell Method, Mind Mapping, Outline Method, Charting Method, and Sentence Method are all effective strategies that can be used in different situations. By choosing the right method for your needs and preferences, you can improve your recall and retention of information, organize your thoughts, and achieve your goals.


  1. Farrand, P., Hussain, F., & Hennessy, E. (2002). The efficacy of the mind map study technique. Medical education, 36(5), 426-431.
  2. Kiewra, K. A. (1985). Investigating notetaking and review: A depth of processing alternative. Educational psychologist, 20(1), 23-32.
  3. Liu, C., & Reed, W. M. (2017). Effects of charting vs. traditional note-taking on memory retention and self-regulation of learning. Journal of Food Science Education, 16(1), 22-28.
  4. Piolat, A., Olive, T., & Kellogg, R. T. (2005). Cognitive effort during note-taking. Applied cognitive psychology, 19(3), 291-312.
  5. Van Meter, P., & Yokoi, L. (2008). Notetaking: Differences between traditional and innovative methods. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 879-891.