One of my high school teachers introduced the Cornell Note-taking System to us. To be honest, at the time I rarely read any of the required reading and took minimal notes so I did not think much about it. It wasn’t until later when I was attending meetings at my job and taking graduate classes at night that I recalled the system and implemented it.
The system was created by Walter Pauk from Cornell University and was based on the 5 Rs of note taking: Record, Reduce, Recite, Reflect and Review. Below is the basic format of your notes page and information on how to use it.
I find this format works very well for classes and when studying. With some modifications, I have also found it effective for meetings and the business world.
- The note-taking column is the same. While in meetings, I jot down notes. I put the date and meeting name before each new set of notes.
- After the meeting, I review the notes and identify key information in the left column. This allows me an easier time of reviewing notes afterwards.
- On the bottom section, I have replaced a summary with action items. This allows me a consistent place to capture actions and an easy way to see what actions are completed vs. outstanding.
I don’t often use pen/paper anymore as most of my information is stored electronically. If I do find myself with pen and paper, this is the system that I always use.