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How to make good notes: Scientifically Proven Techniques

The note-making is an essential and effective learning skill for school, college, and even the workplace. It's scientifically proven that our minds can not hold most of the information for long. It can hold a piece of information until new information replaces it. Meaningful, long-term learning does not occur in the classes but after and between classes as you study. Therefore well-organized notes can give you records of the previous classes to understand and learn.

If your notes are not unclear, messy, and unorganized, they are just like a rough sheet. They are not going to help you much. And it's nothing to do with your handwriting. It's all about how well you have organized and structured your notes.

Why is note making necessary for effective study?

An effective note-taking technique is a key to succeeding in school, college, and office. Students should dedicate significant time to revising information during classroom lectures. Without good notes, it is hard to recall precise details–main event ideas–from classroom lectures.

How to Make Good Notes

It helps you to remember information for a long time. Further, it forces you to pay attention and allows you to concentrate in class (while listening to lectures or reading textbooks). Research on best learning practices has shown that actively engaging with the topic by listening and then summarizing it in your own words helps you understand and remember the information for a long time.

Benefits of note taking habit

Note-taking provides several benefits that are excluded from having all the information taught in the class. Note-taking benefits:

  • You will learn actively

When you make notes, you first understand the topic. You focus on the facts, break down a topic into small chunks and then connect the dots. Being actively involved in information increases your chances of remembering some, if not all, of what you learn.

  • It helps you to sort out important information

Listening carefully in the class and summarizing the information helps you to short out essential facts.

  • You can make your understanding broad about a certain topic

A successful student invests his time in expanding their understanding of a topic. They note the names of the essential books, research papers, and other resources for further study. It helps them in the examination to explain a topic in a better way.

  • It improves your organizational skills

Note-Making is not just writing all the information you heard or understood about a subject. It's a method to determine the key points to remember. Break down a large or complex topic into small chunks and make sense of it. You will be more efficient in handling large amounts of information.

  • It will help you in revision

A concise, well-organized set of notes for each lesson provides you with what you need to study, study, and review after class. These notes are helpful in revision after the class and before the exam.

Five Scientific Note Making Techniques

Everyone has to follow their note-taking approach. And there is nothing terrible about it. But if you are looking for a scientifically proven note-taking method, you should look at these five:

The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a way to take, organize and review notes. Professor Walter Spider developed this note-taking method at Cornell University in the 1950s; It is an effective note-taking technique because the main point, cues, and summary are all written together.


  1. All the information, the main points, ques, and summary are written in one place.
  2. Help you in revision and allows you to pull out major concepts and ideas.

What does it look like?

  • The paper is divided into three sections. A 2.5-inch margin for cues, 2.0-inch for the summary section, and a 6-inch margin for the notes section.
  • The main note section is used to take notes during class.
  • The cues section is used to note the critical information while reviewing the notes. After the class, write down things that you will need to remember. You can use a different pen.
  • You add a short, concise summary of your notes in the summary section. You can write the main points of your notes.

The Mapping Method

This note-taking method is a visual representation of your class notes. This note-taking method is visually appealing and helps to maximize active learning by actively forming connections between concepts. This method is useful when exploring relationships between topics.


  1. This method is helpful for visual learners who find it challenging to study from books.
  2. It helps you to connect between topics and remember them for a long time.
  3. In this method, you note down all the related information sequentially.

What does it look like?

  • This method divides the main topics into subtopics and notes detailed information about each subtopic.
  • Write down the main topic.
  • Now branch out the main topic into subtopics. And give a heading to each subtopic.
  • Note down all the critical information related to a subtopic.
  • If the subtopic has more subtopics, continue the pattern.

The Outline Method

The outline method is perhaps the most common note-taking method used by school and college students. It uses heading and bullet points to organize topics. Plans naturally organize information in a highly structured and logical order, forming the basis of a textbook chapter or lecture topic that is an excellent educational tool for exam preparation. This note-taking method has more advantages while studying a topic in detail.


  1. It uses heading and bullet points, so the notes are detailed and well organized.
  2. It's easy to remember the relationship between topics and subtopics.

What does it look like?

  • In this method, each section starts with a main heading of the topic. Each subtopic is written with proper heading in bullet points underneath it.
  • While making the notes, first write down the main topic in a big heading.
  • Divide the main topic into subtopics and write down the first subtopic in a bullet point slightly intended to the right.
  • Write all or any key details regarding the topic and move it somewhat right.

The Charting Method

This is another note-taking method. In this method, we use columns to organize the information. This note-taking method is helpful for topics that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics, for example, similarities and differences, date events, etc.


  1. All the facts are organized, and it is easy to review.
  2. Emphasize key pieces of information about each topic.

What does it look like?

  • In this method, the page is divided into columns labeled by categories. The elements of each type are filled out in the rows below.
  • When you are listening to or reading the study material about a category mentioned in the table, write it down underneath in the proper column.
  • When the next topic begins, continue this pattern.

Things to Keep in mind while taking notes

  • Don't write down each word

The whole point of note-making is summarizing information in a well-organized shorter format. Therefore, if you write every word from the lecture or the book, you are wasting time.

  • Prioritize what to write

Listen/look for the critical information that your teacher tells you. Look out for the crucial points and write them down in your notes.

  • Use different symbols, abbreviations, and colors

Sometimes when you are making notes in class, you don't have time to write full sentences. At that time, you can use symbols and abbreviations. Forex. + or & for ‘and’; = for equals.

  • Don't worry about spelling or grammatical errors

It is a time in your academic or professional life when no one will blame you for a few spelling and grammatical errors. Achieving excellence in these areas does not matter. Instead, it focuses on gathering and note-down information.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q1. What are the four different note-taking skills?

Ans. Cornell, Outline, Mapping, and Charting are the four-note-taking styles. Each note-taking type is different from the other. In the Cornell method, we divide the page into three sections cues, notes, and a summary. The Outline and Mapping methods are more upfront and quick to make.

Q2. What are evergreen notes?

Ans. The name suggests that the note written and organized evolves, contributes, and accumulates over time across projects. It is an unusual way to take notes. Most people only take temporary notes.

Q3. What are the five Rs of note-taking?

Ans. Below is the meaning of the five Rs of note-taking.

  • Record: During the class, write down all the essential facts and ideas you can.
  • Reduce: Summarize this information as soon as possible and note it in the cue column.
  • Recite: Now study the topic and write down all the crucial facts in the note column in your own words.
  • Reflect: Now, draw a conclusion on your own about the topic and note it down in the summary section.
  • Revise: Give some time to revise the topic. And you will retain most of the information that you have learned.


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