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Student Tools: Cornell Note Templates

This semester I have been facilitating breakout groups for the learning strategies course in my faculty. Last week, the session focused on reading and note-taking. One of the activities had the students make a Cornell note on a section of the course’s textbook. When I asked if any of them had heard of Cornell notes before, 0 of 19 hands went up.

The Cornell note-taking system is a widely-used notetaking system devised in the 1950s by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University. Pauk advocated its use in his best-selling How to Study in College, but its use has spread most rapidly in the past decade.


Cornell Note Layout

Despite a lack of familiarity with the method, all the students intuitively grasped the concepts of notes, cues, and summaries. Whether or not they integrate it into future notes remains to be seen.

Instead of rehashing the volumes of information available (348,000 Google results), here are my favourite Cornell note resources:


Cornell Note PDF Templates (includes the best explanation of the system I’ve found and an example note)

Fully Customizable Cornell Note PDF Generator (lined)

Fully Customizable Cornell Note PDF Generator (graph)

Microsoft Word Template (for students who take notes with a computer, scroll to the bottom of the page to download the template)

Did you know about Cornell notes before this post? Do you use them? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

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4 Responses to “Student Tools: Cornell Note Templates”

  1. Mary Anne in Kentucky says:

    I first heard of it in college thirty-odd years ago. The professor who explained it to us was in favor of typing paper because it was cheap, and I objected that I wanted lines to keep my writing from slanting downhill and I wanted holes to keep my notes in a binder, and I already indexed my notes in the space at the _top_ of the page so why should I change what I was doing? I did start using the margins more. He did not appreciate my response to his enthusiasm, but he was too nice a guy to be really annoyed with me.

  2. ez says:

    My literature teacher taught this system to me in high school. Over the years it devolved as I got more and more lazy about adhering to it. These days, I don’t use anything like it.

  3. This is definitely a great note taking system. Maybe I’ve been living on another planet or something, because this was my first time hearing of such a technique. Thank you, I’ve just shared it with my girlfriend as she’s still in college.

  4. This is really great note taking system.