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)
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.
2. The Mind Mapping Method
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:
3. The Outlining Method
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.
4. The Charting Method
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.
And there you have it! Four solid note-taking styles to experiment with for your optimum retention, organization, and motivation. Don’t settle for notes that don’t inspire you!