What Are Cornell Notes?

Cornell notes are the result of a note-taking system used in an educational setting that helps organize notes by dividing information vertically on a sheet of paper. The Cornell note-taking system stipulates that key points should be written on the left with supporting details on the right.

When using the Cornell note-taking system, students should draw a horizontal line approximately five or six lines from the bottom of a ruled piece of paper. A vertical line should be drawn 2 inches from the left side of the paper and end at the horizontal line to provide a divider for notes. When writing notes using the Cornell system, the large box to the right is used for writing notes and details while listening to class lectures, with a line skipped between each topic or idea. To save time, notes should be written in bullet points or fragments versus complete sentences.

Once the class has ended or the individual is finished taking notes, the left-hand column is used to determine key points, key terms and highlights from the notes once the notes are reviewed. The bottom portion below the horizontal line on the page is used to write a summary of the notes for the day.