Free Cornell Notes Template

Cornell Notes

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This free cornell notes template is suitable for all students. It lets you review lectures, take notes, and capture screenshots, thoughts, and questions in one document.


About Cornell Notes

Gaining new knowledge is no easy task. The information sometimes comes like a tsunami wave, leaving you speechless. After some point, your brain refuses to receive new facts. And at the end of the day, everything you learned in the morning may seem distant. So, how can one not drown and keep everything under control?

Your approach to taking notes while studying or attending lectures has much to do with the right answer. Besides the fact that your success depends on many factors, like your determination, how hard you work, etc., there are small tools that support you during your journey. Cornell Notes system is one of them. Tested over the years by millions of students, it remains one of the best templates for easy note-taking.

Being busy and overwhelmed with tasks and work, we may forget about keeping our notes organized. So, even the best system might not come in handy. Not organized notes are less useful, if not useless at all. So, why would we waste time taking them in the first place? That’s a vicious circle. Templates for Cornell Notes make the process as easy as possible. Everything is already organized and thought out.

Let’s take a closer look at what they are, how they work, and what you should know to use them to your advantage.

What are Cornell Notes?

Cornell Notes is a system invented by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University in the 1950s, for taking notes in an organized way with their further easy reviewing and consideration. The fact that the system was developed by someone who knew what a studying process was speaks about its usefulness, depth, and suitability.

It is generally believed that Cornell Notes are for high school students and college level. However, everyone is free to use them whether they are students or not. Our entire life is about studying, so having a reliable supplementary tool may seriously ease the process. A great variety of free templates for Cornell note-taking, including Cornell notes templates for Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Pages, may help a wide circle of people discover this method and apply it to their advantage.

Since the method was developed a couple of decades ago, it has evolved a bit, and now there are different versions. Today, we even have field-specified ones. For example, Cornell notes templates for math are quite popular among students.  However, the classical one is still unbeatable due to its versatility. 

So, what does a traditional Cornell note look like? A notetaker creates three sections: two columns (one will contain general notes, and the other is for asking questions)  and a summary at the bottom. This way, you have distilled information on the subject matter. 

Cornell notes may serve two purposes. Except for the one we just discussed above, you may use it as a content-knowledge checker. Their structure helps you to see what subject or fact needs to be clarified, and you can easily determine your weak spots.

Traditional Cornell notes were about flexibility, and templates have maximized this feature. Now you can easily add something new where it’s needed after some time, highlight it, or even go back and delete it if it turns out to be useless. Only imagine what a mess your paper notes would be after all these changes. 

Why are Cornell Notes Template so effective?

Do you use one method for taking notes from different spheres of your life? People whose answer is ‘Yes’, usually apply a pretty chaotic approach to writing down everything important with leaving it to later consideration. This basic-level idea of note-taking is about disadvantages mainly because it steals time, the most precious asset people possess.

If the notes are only a couple of days old, then you probably are perfectly capable of finding needed pieces of information. However, if they were taken months ago, you likely would need to read everything to find what you were looking for in the first place. Cornell notes structure is simple yet powerful. When you have a page with three sections in front of you and look for something specific, you will already know where it should be.

The advantages Cornell notes can bring into your study routine don’t end with the possibility of finding everything easily.

  1. They help students process all the information they get during lectures, allowing them to write only the most important things. 
  2. They save you time. You don’t have to write down every single word of your professor.
  3. They help track hard questions and everything that requires additional study or research.
  4. They allow you to concentrate more on the subject and not on the process of taking notes.
  5. Consistent use of the Cornell notes method proved to strengthen studying skills and memory, which is another great bonus.

Why are Cornell notes online templates better?

What is the main disadvantage of a paper notebook? It gives you only one try. Then, it turns into a mess with all that corrections and crossing. If you’re attending many courses, you may need a separate notebook for each. Can you imagine a bag of what size you need to carry around having separate notebooks or folders?

However, there’s more. Have you ever noticed how tempting it is to start doodling when the lecture is boring or it’s just hard to concentrate? Next time you take a look at your notes, it’s full of funny drawings combined with single pieces of information.

What else can damage your notes? Food, liquids, ink strains, etc. But notes with strains are not that big of a deal. You still have them and can still get something useful out of them. To lose them would be real trouble.

An xTiles Cornell notes template saves you from any of these threats. You can’t miss anything, but you can freely share (if you want, of course) your notes with your fellow students. No food, no drinks, and no ink can harm your notes now (even if something mentioned previously damaged your laptop, the notes are still perfectly safe). 

After some time, your Cornell notes turn into your personal knowledge base. All years of lectures are gathered in one place with easy access and the possibility to find the needed information using the search command.

How to use Cornell notes

The Cornell method for note-taking is basically a system for organizing information. So, there would be certain steps with a strictly defined sequence. We will look at the traditional method, the one where you need a notebook and a pen since it’s the hardest. If you use a template, this preparation phase is already done. 

First, you need to divide the page into 3 or 4 parts. You need one small area at the top. There you will put the date, subject, and topic. Please, don’t neglect titles. They help you easily find the needed note. Then you need a bigger area at the bottom of the page. That’s a place for a summary of your lecture. And you need two columns between these two sections. The one on the right side should be approximately twice as big as the left one.

The bigger column is for your notes. Write down everything using telegraphic sentences so that you can keep up with the lecture. You may also use symbols and abbreviations to record the general idea. 

Even though the Cornell note-taking system was created to organize people’s notes, sometimes you need to go over them once more to keep everything tidy. So, once the lecture is over, edit your notes before you forget what you could have meant.

The time of the left column comes when you return to your notes to study. Review everything you put in the right column, summarize it into keywords, and define the main ideas. Then write them down in the left column. You may need to highlight or underline the needed pieces to see the full picture and its main components. Some even go further and cross out those pieces that seem insignificant. 

The left column is also for questions that arise during the lecture, but there’s no time to ask them or look for the answer. Write them down and clarify everything later.

If your left column reflects all the ideas from the right one, your exam preparation will be much quicker and easier than before using the Cornell note-taking system.

Cornell notes: what to choose?

As you can see, there’s a lot of work ahead of those who decided to use paper for their lecture notes. And still, there will be threats to their notes, such as loss, strains, etc. So, is it worth continuing to use a traditional attitude only because it’s traditional? Or better choose something more modern? After all, the Cornell notes system itself was quite an innovation at some point too. 

There are a couple of options for using Cornell notes. Of course, you can go the hard way and use paper for that. You will need to draw lines manually for every new page, which might be quite time-consuming and inconvenient, especially if your professor has already started the lecture and you didn’t prepare the page earlier.

Then, you can go for Cornell notes templates for Microsoft Word, which is a bit easier but still far from perfection and the ease it is supposed to bring into people’s lives. This time you won’t need the ruler. However, the customization options Cornell notes templates for Word and Google Docs offer you are pretty poor. Usually, everything you get is a standard table. Even manual Cornell notes may be more visually appealing. 

So, what to choose? You may try xTiles Cornell notes template. It combines the well-known traditional structure with a wide range of customization options. This way, your notes will be interactive, far from boring, but still well-organized. 

Moreover, you can add links, relevant pictures, tables, screenshots, etc., which is especially important for those who study online. Have you ever tried to add rich content to your Word document? Then you know that it might be quite hard and make a mess of the whole document. Usually, struggling with making everything look nice, people give up and delete the picture they tried to put.

Also, there’s always an option to go deeper and create sub-documents. Some subjects may be too great to be put on one page. The same may happen to facts that simply are too interesting. So, you can dedicate a separate document to what is important to you without creating a mess in your notes.

Cornell Notes
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