3 Awesome Note Taking Styles for Students to Use

3 Awesome Note Taking Styles for Students to Use

In a recent post, I discussed strategies for taking effective notes. Notes play a few different purposes. One is the obvious: to record new information. Most students stop after this and never think about the second purpose: use your notes to study for review. For studying purposes, your notes need to be easy to read, focused, and contain key details. 

For studying purposes, your notes need to be easy to read, focused, and contain key details.Click To Tweet

One of the first things I recommended in the post on note-taking skills was to pick a note-taking style and to stick with it. Well, here are 3 different note-taking styles: outline, visual, or Cornell. Outline and visual notes are quick up-front, but require more work after class to make them useful. Cornell notes take the most work up-front, but are the most useful later on.  

Be sure to get the FREE reference guide I created for you. It’s awesome to keep in your (or your teen’s notebook). Click below!

3 Awesome Note-Taking Styles for Students to Use

Outline Notes

You use an outline format to show relationships among pieces of information. You group information together using indents. The further left the information, the more important it is. The further right, the more specific the information is.

Outlines are also great because you don’t write in complete sentences. So, overall you’re writing down fewer words and saving yourself some time. And we all want that, amiright?

If your source – teacher lecture, reading – is well-organized, this is easy to accomplish. However, if the teacher is giving a “stream of consciousness” lecture, you may have to rewrite your notes later so they make more sense. Or just use a pencil with a good eraser 🙂

Note-taking styles

Visual Notes

Words, shwords. You don’t need so many stinking words. You think in pictures and want your notes to reflect that.

Visual notes can come in many forms, from charts to mind maps to sketchnotes. This can be a more flexible system than an outline. However, if the lecture is unorganized, you may have to rewrite after class.

Note taking style

Cornell Notes

Invented at Cornell University, Cornell notes are set up in a particular way that includes space for annotation and summary. AVID programs teach and require students to use Cornell notes because they are one of the BEST systems for taking notes.

Within the notes box, you can actually take notes in any form you would like: outline or visual. The extra spaces for annotation and a summary are built into your notes – no need to add them later! This makes Cornell notes particularly useful for both retention of information and review.

Note taking style

If you’re still not sure how this system works, check out this video tutorial.

You can easily create your own Cornell notes on lined paper in class, print out a template online and put that in your notebook, or type directly into a template. Just google “Cornell notes template.”

Try out the different methods. What feels the most comfortable during class? What takes the most time to annotate after class? Which one do you learn best from?

Haven’t downloaded the FREE reference guide yet? What are you waiting for??

note-taking styles

Which note-taking style is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! 


Related Posts: How to Take Notes Like a Pro, How to Take Notes from a Textbook the Right Way, How to Take Faster NotesLearn How to Improve Your Study Skills

3 Awesome Note Taking Styles for Students to Use
3 Awesome Note Taking Styles for Students to Use


6 thoughts on “3 Awesome Note Taking Styles for Students to Use”

  • My son, who is a college freshman, struggled big-time with his first semester courses. An Honors student in HS, he ended up failing one class and doing very poorly in his others. When I asked him what he think happened, one of his responses was: I don’t think HS really prepared me for the way stuff works in college. So I put together some lessons on how to take notes during lectures, note-taking for reading assignments, how to stay organized, and how to study for class. I used your website and articles for almost all of my information. Just wanted to say thank you for having this available for not only students, but parents who want to help! Hopefully next semester will be better.

    • I’m glad I could help! He is not alone – many college students struggle with many of these skills because they were never taught them before.

  • I haven’t tried any of them out, but just going by how I like to take notes, the Cornell Method will suit my style of note taking best, thank you very much. All the tips were very helpful, I really appreciate it.

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