“Revolutionize Your Note-Taking Game with these 5 LifeHack Systems”

5 Most Effective Note-taking Methods for Students

In today’s fast-paced academic world, note-taking has evolved from the traditional method of jotting down everything to more streamlined methods. California Polytechnic State University recently shared a document on 5 methods of note-taking systems – including the Cornell Method, Outline Method, Mapping Method, Charting Method, and Sentence Method. Each method has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and uses. That said, let’s dive into each of these methods to explore which one may work best for you.

Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a popular method of note-taking that takes advantage of the principle of active learning. It involves dividing your paper into three sections – a small column on the left for cues, main note-taking section in the middle, and a summary space at the bottom. The notes are taken in the main section, with the left column used to record questions, key phrases, or keywords that help you remember the main idea of the notes. Finally, the summary at the bottom allows you to review the notes and recall significant information.

The Cornell Method works well for lectures, informational talks, and meetings, and it enables you to engage directly with the material, to ensure you understand it better. It also acts as a study aid as you review the notes, leading to better recall of the material. A disadvantage of this method is that the notes take more time to outline and organize, and that time-cost may delay your writing.

Outline Method

The Outline Method involves listening to a lecture or reading a text and then writing down the main ideas in points, organized in an organized structure of indented bullet points (like a high school or college research paper). The Outline Method allows for clear organization of thoughts and key points, making it easy to see relationships and main ideas quickly.

It is also time-effective in the writing process, as the apparent structure created enables the writer to make connections and see related themes easily. The disadvantage of the outline method is that the writer has to stay aware of formatting and can often miss out on essential details.

Mapping Method

The Mapping Method involves drawing bubbles or box-shaped elements on the page, each representing an idea or concept, with lines connecting them to create a structured image of your notes. The Mapping Method is beneficial to visual learners who remember and process information through pictures more efficiently than text. It is ideal when making summaries or during problem-solving situations, where a broad visual overview of the detail in a system is useful, such as in graphic design, creating a resume, or summarizing material.

The disadvantage of the Mapping Method is that it can be difficult to use in everyday writing, and the layout can lack a clear and concise overview of the material.

Charting Method

The Charting Method involves creating a chart with rows and columns that relate to a particular subject or topic. For example, if you were attending a conference that featured several speakers, you could make a chart with several rows for each speaker, and a column for their name, job title, e-mail, phone number, and any notes you want to capture from their presentation.

This method is ideal for complex details with different categories, where the use of a table enables better organization and overview. The disadvantage of this method is that the tables can be time-consuming to create, and the writer may miss out on detailed notes.

Sentence Method

The Sentence Method is a simpler method that primarily involves writing down full sentences, as you listen or read through the material. The method is very adaptable to different levels of complexity, which makes it great for general note-taking for non-technical details. This method is ideal for classes where diction and tone are more important than the specific content, such as literature or creative writing.

The disadvantage of the Sentence Method is that the writer may miss significant details important for the assessment, and this method can render a bulky and chaotic handful of information.


In conclusion, the five methods of note-taking systems have advantages and disadvantages that suit different subjects, topics, and styles of writing. It is ideal to explore each one of these methods to select which functions are best for you. Consider considering the kind of work you are doing and adapt the best note-taking system that matches the level of complexity and domain of subject matter. Finally, make sure that the notes you take are clear, precise, and well-organized to give you an excellent point of reference for future studies and a more effective way to remember your work.

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