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Note Taking Strategies
Posted below is an overview of note-taking strategies, with specific reference to Cornell Notes.  This information was provided in a three-page handout distributed in class during the first week of school.  The handout included diagrams that are not posted on this web page.

Note Taking Strategies: Overview

There are a wide variety of note taking systems.  The key to successful notes is to follow a consistent format and to make revisions to your notes as homework (e.g. correct spelling and highlight key points). This handout addresses general note taking strategies and the specific skills of outlining and Cornell notes.

Note Taking Strategies
1.Separate notes by class.  It is recommended you use a separate folder for each class
2.Write your notes using pencil, blue, or black ink
3.Write your first and last name, class, and date in the upper right-hand corner
4.Write a title and the textbook page numbers (if applicable) on the top and center line
5.Skip lines between topics
6.Avoid using the backside of the paper
7.Follow a consistent format
8.Focus on key points and avoid excessive details (i.e. listen for cues from the teacher)
9.Write down all notes from the chalkboard or dry erase board
10.Use a highlighter to highlight key words
11.Read the assigned reading before attending the lecture
12.Whenever possible write the corresponding page number adjacent to your notes (left margin)
13.Edit and revise your notes as homework (e.g. correct spelling errors, rewrite messy notes, etc.)
14.Compare your notes to your peers and make changes accordingly
15.Copy notes from your peers when you are absent

Outline Overview
An outline uses divides notes by categories and subcategories.  Through the use of indentation and a systematic topic labeling system outline notes “zoom in and out” on various topics.

Outline Sample

I.Egypt’s Pyramids
A.Created from huge stones
1.Some stones weighed several tons
2.Slaves and peasants provided the manual labor
B.Built as a tribute to Egypt’s leaders
1.Contained tombs
a.Tombs contained mummies, artifacts, and paintings
b.Over the centuries tomb raiders pillaged most pyramids
C.Famous landmarks
1.Many pyramids have existed for several thousand years
2.One of the most famous pyramids is the Pyramid at Giza

II.The Nile River
A.Key to all life in Egypt

Note Taking Strategies: Cornell Notes
Adapted from

Synopsis: With the Cornell method, different parts of the notebook paper have different functions.
1.Lecture notes are recorded on one half of the paper (the right side)
2.Key words and concepts are recorded in another area called the recall column (left side)
3.A summary is recorded at the bottom of the paper
The Cornell method of note taking offers several advantages. It results in more organized notes. It allows students to quickly identify key words and key concepts from a lecture. The notes can easily be used as a study guide for exam preparation. The arrangement of information is aesthetically pleasing and easy to scan, making it easy to locate particular pieces of information.
1.Divide the paper
oUse loose leaf or spiral notebook paper and write on one side of the page only.
oDivide the paper vertically by drawing a line from top to bottom about 2" from the left side of the page.

2.Documentation:  Write the following information at the top of each page:First and last name, class, date (top right side)Header and applicable textbook page numbers (title of your notes)
3.Record notes
oDuring lecture, record the main ideas and concepts on the right side of the page. This is the notes column.
oRephrase the information in your own words before writing it down.
oSkip one line between ideas and several lines between topics.
oAvoid writing in complete sentences; use symbols and abbreviations instead.

oThe format or style of the notes can vary. Suggestions for organizing the notes are:
Outline Style
Paragraph Style: For unstructured information, record notes in paragraph style with short, telegraphic sentences and phrases.
Topic and Ideas Style: For expanded topic information, record topics and ideas.
Sentence Style: For ideas and concepts, record notes in short sentences.
Definition Style: For main topics and features, record definitions and explanations of words in short phrases.

4.Review and Clarify
oAs soon after class as possible, review the notes in the right column and clarify any ambiguous information.
oCompare the information with the book and/or other students' notes.
oThen pull the main ideas, concepts, terms, places, dates, and people from the right column and record them in the left-hand recall column.

oPrepare a summary of the lecture material and record it at the end of the notes.
oThe summary may be in sentences or short phrases. It should include only the main ideas from the lecture.

oUse both sections of the notes to prepare for quizzes and exams.
    An example of the Cornell method of note taking is provided below.

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