4 Of Our Favorite Note-Taking Strategies

4 Of Our Favorite Note-Taking Strategies

Find the Note-Taking method that's best for you:

Handwritten notes are the best way to remember key takeaways, action items and your long running list of to-dos. According to several studies, including one published in Psychological Science, students who take notes by longhand are more successful at answering conceptual questions, than students who take notes on laptops. And what better way to be noteworthy than to take stellar notes that work for you?

Here are 4 of our favorite note-taking strategies to try on for size:

1.The Split-Page Method (aka the Cornell Method)

Cornell Method of Note-Taking

The prep:  For the split-page method, you do exactly that—split your notebook pages into three sections. You’ll want to grab a ruler for this one so you can make super straight lines. You’re going to create a “notes” column on the right side of the page that’s 6.5 inches wide, a “cues” column on the left that’s 2.5 inches wide, and a 2-inch section at the bottom for a “summary.”

The details: The notes column is where you’ll include concise sentences, abbreviations, and lists. Use the cues column for important questions, main ideas, diagrams, charts, and points to help you remember concepts. And your summary section should include the main idea of your notes and quick reference comments.

The advantages:

  1. Record:  Legibly record your ideas in the note section.
  2. Reduce:  Summarize these ideas in the reduce (cues) column.
  3. Recite:  Recite your notes and ideas in your own words out loud so you can remember them.
  4. Reflect:  Reflect by organizing your notes into categories or summaries.
  5. Review:  Review your notes every week for ten minutes. Which brings me to my second point….
  • This is a simple way to recall and study information you need to remember fast. I’m talking to you high school and college students. This is an awesome way to create a study guide for your tests!
  • And lastly, by taking notes that are this organized, there’s no need for you to rewrite them. Plus, if you use SCRIBZEE ®, a FREE app offered by hamelin--that allows you to scan, save, organize, share and access your notes at any time, from any place, on the cloud--you won’t have to rewrite your notes ever again.

2. The Mind Mapping Method

Mind Mapping Method of Note-Taking

The prep:  None required. But you might want to grab some great markers and highlighters to make the visual effect even more impactful!

The details: This method is a graphic representation of ideas using circles and lines. Write the major topic and then connect sub-topics to it. This is a great method for brainstorming, and mapping out different subjects.

The advantages: There are some pretty significant advantages to using the mind-mapping method as well. Check it out:

  • 65% of people are visual learners, making it easier to recall the Mind Mapping Method because it’s drawn out a little more creatively than the Cornell Method.
  • You can focus on more meaningful note taking because of the amount of space you have.
  • Creating a mind map makes you feel like you’re drawing instead of taking notes, which makes note taking more fun.

3. The Outlining Method

Outlining Method of Note-Taking

The prep:  Nada.

The details: Outlining is the most common form of note taking used by college students. Notes are organized based on space indentation and the level of importance is indicated by the distance away from the left margin.

The advantages:

  • By organizing notes this way, you’re still able to tell the relationships between the ideas and materials.
  • It’s organized and easy to review.
  • It reduces editing time.

4. The Charting Method

Charting Method of Note-Taking

The prep:  Use a ruler to set up your paper with several columns and label section headings.

The details: The charting method uses—you guessed it—a chart with categories or sections to take your notes in. List the information you need by each category, section or date to keep your information concise and organized.

The advantages:

  • Quick hit note-taking strategy perfect for summarizing key points and data.
  • The rows and columns of information make it easier to review and reflect on your notes.

Bonus Notetaking Advice From Jen:

Color Coding:

Jen always does a great job giving tips, especially when it comes to note-taking! Just like with symbols. Don’t over do it. Too much color is distracting, pick several colors to match each subject/theme & use consistently throughout a course or semester to boost recall. Hamelin's 7 Notebook colors are a great place to start. 📚


Practice copying down the teacher’s diagram ‘as is’ in class. As soon as you get back, create an identical version of this diagram but blank out the content. You can then use a sticky note or index card to cover up the original diagram & quiz yourself while you fill in the content. This is a great way to connect visual learning with the teachers topics in a way that’s sure to help you remember on test day.


SCRIBZEE® is a great way to implement these techniques in & out of the classroom. You can scan your handwritten notes & index cards; share, sort, search & study all from your mobile device. To learn more about the amazing features this FREE App has to offer visit our YT page.



And there you have it! Four solid note-taking styles to experiment with for your optimum retention, organization, and motivation. These strategies work great whether you're in a classical classroom setting or you're adapting to online mobile learning for semesters to come. Don’t settle for notes that don’t inspire you!

Be noteworthy.


The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614524581

The 5 R's of Notetaking - http://www.mccc.edu/nursing/documents/nrscornellnotes.pdf

Mind Mapping a graphic representation of ideas - https://medium.com/@WhinkApp/find-out-which-note-taking-method-works-best-for-you-c27a5e87f5a6

How to Take Effective Notes Using Mind Maps - https://www.mindmeister.com/blog/effective-notes-using-mind-maps/

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