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Study Tips and Methods: Cornell Notes

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Students of every age benefit from helpful methods, tips, and tools that make studying easier and enhance memory. Cornell Notes is a memorable, easy, and organized way to take notes and remember information. Additionally, customizing approaches to note taking will help you remember what is important for the next assignment, test, or meeting.

Cornell Notes
Coaching Study Skills

History of Cornell Notes

Using Cornell Notes has become increasingly popular study method, not just in college, but in middle school, high school, and then professional environments. Cornell Notes began when Walter Paulk, who was a professor at Cornell University in the 1950's, developed this system of taking notes to help college students master study skills. This method helped students synthesize information better during lecture times, and later analyze and then summarize (which was a great way to enhance memory).

This study method is particularly helpful because it supports study recommendations by learning scientists today - like the need for reflection to engage the memory. Recent studies have shown that memory is enhanced when students study for more than one day, and space out studying across days (a technique called spaced repetition). Thus, it's a good study tip to remember that using a study method more than once increases retention.

Cornell Notes divides the page strategically into sections with key words or questions in the left column, notes in the middle right section, and a summary section at the bottom. The way the page is subdivided also forms a natural way to use notes later as a study tool by quizzing oneself on key words or questions in the left column.

Study Tips: Finding Cornell Notes Online

There are plenty of online templates for note taking/study methods like Cornell Notes. Educators have developed templates Cornell Notes for both Word and Google Docs, or students can just use lined paper and divide their page into three convenient sections.


Study Tip: If you want to find high quality resources to improve study skills, or template for study skills online, a helpful technique is to do a Google search for what your'e looking for and add the extension PDF for a high quality PDF resource. For example, if you are looking for a Cornell Notes template that you can print, simply type: "Study Skills: Cornell Notes Template .PDF."


Study Methods: Modifying Cornell Notes

Cornell Notes can be modified and customized to fit whatever you are studying so you maximize your study skill time.

  • Students can modify Cornell Notes by adding hand drawn pictures.

  • Business professionals can modify online Cornell Notes by adding live links.

  • Teachers can modify Cornell Notes by customizing them to content, like this Nelson Notes LLC example of Cornell Notes Poetry Analysis.

Study Tip! Finding the right tools, models and strategies is helpful for any age and any subject to help with better recall.

by Carol Nelson (November 2022)

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