Taking Notes

Two-Column/Cornell Note Taking

Cornell Notes How To

Notes are essential to deeper understanding. You should take notes on both reading and lectures. A good way to take notes is using Two-Column Note taking or  Cornell Notes

List the main idea on the left, and several details on the right—don’t copy, put the notes in your own words briefly.You can create two-column notes by drawing a line down the center of your paper or folding it.When studying for a test, fold the paper and read the main ideas. See how many details you can remember!



“Main ideas” often refers to the main points of the text, but can also include supporting details.

First Main Idea *Bullet #1 fleshing out first main idea.* Bullet #2 fleshing out first main idea.* Bullet #3 fleshing out first main idea.
Skip a Line Skip a Line
Second main Idea * Bullet #1 fleshing out second main idea.* Bullet #2 fleshing out second main idea.* Bullet 3# fleshing out second main idea
As an exercise in “putting it all together” (synthesis), write a summary paragraph in which you organize your main points and supporting points.


  • Underline new vocabulary.
  • Skip lines between new ideas.
  • Draw lines between ideas or facts that connect to each other.
  • Take notes using symbols and drawings, not just words.
  • Don’t worry about spelling as you take notes. You can check for proper spelling later.
  • Use bullet points to list sub-points.
  • Place a star by main ideas.
  • Place a question-mark by anything you do not understand



Main Idea Supporting Details
Early Voyages to the Americas §  Vikings (1001), Leif Ericson§  Asians cross Bering Sea during/after ice age§  Polynesians by Sea§  Chinese and Japanese fishing boats by accident§  All these were forgotten: Europeans did not know about the Americas or people there.


Using symbols & abbreviations in note taking

When taking notes its important to remember that you don’t have to write everything down but rather that you need to summarize. A helpful way to take notes is to use symbols and abbreviations when taking notes. This helps you maximize the amount of information that you are able to record while also concentrate on what the lecturer is discussing.

Some examples: natl-national; + and; # or num- number; gov-government; dep-department; hist-history; UK- United Kingdom; Sp-Spain; Eng-England;  ForMin-Foreign Minister; = equal to or the same as; w/ with; b/e- because; imp-important; lang-language; Max-maximum;                      min-minimum; shd-should, cd-could; wd-would; subj-subject; assoc.- association; trd-trade; cont’d-continued; ___> leads to, becomes; > greater than; \ does not equal; w/o -without; t/f-therefore; [ ] ( )- information that belongs together; e.g. for example; v. very; vv. extremely;                               c. approximately, roughly, about (abbreviation for the Latin ‘circa’)

Abbreviation Techniques

Leave out unimportant verbs.

Leave out a, an, and the.

After writing out a term once in full, use an abbreviation: East India Trading Company(EITP) 

Use the first few letters of the word – just enough to remember what the abbreviation stands for, e.g. imp for ‘important’ info for ‘information’ eval for ‘evaluation’

Remove all (or most of) the vowels from the word and use just the key consonants bunched together, e.g. mngmt for ‘management’ mkt for ‘market’ (and mkting for ‘marketing’) dvpt for ‘development’

See Note Taking Abbreviations

Note Taking Symbols & Abbreviations(Vancouver Community College)

Helpful abbreviations for speedy note-taking (University of Portsmouth, England)


Other helpful links & resources

2 Column Note taking made easy Powerpoint

Note Taking Goals Power Point

Cornell Note Taking for lecture & Reading

Note Taking from James Madison University

2 Column Blank Outline


How to Annotate a Book

College Board: How and Why to Annotate a Book

Note Taking Abbreviations(University of Adelaide, Australia) 

Avoiding Plagiarism (University of Adelaide, Australia)

Common Notetaking Symbols and Shortcuts

Note Taking- Penn State

Taking Notes- Washing University in St. Louis (some very good examples)



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