How To: Lecture Notes

From time to time, students will take notes on various topics presented in the course. For class purposes, students will use a form of Cornell note taking.

When doing this or any assignment, be as neat as possible. Organization and clear handwriting improves understanding of the material. When taking notes, it is important that students follow the given format to achieve maximum understanding of the information presented.

Step One

On the selected page, write the title of the lecture at the top of the notebook page. On the bottom outside corner—the corner farthest from the notebook spine—write the page number. The page number will be the number of the lesson and a capital letter for the page number. For example, page 2D stands for lesson 2, page D. Also, students need to draw a vertical line about two inches from the left side of the page.


Step Two

The term written on the left side of the vertical line is the topic. This represents the overall idea of the information written on the right side of the vertical line. Everything on the right should relate to the topic.

The capital letters are the main ideas of the topic. They are the big ideas that will often be explored with further details. Throughout the note taking, all the capital letters should be aligned vertically, one letter over another in its own column.

The numbers are the details of the main ideas. They give more information about the main ideas. Throughout the note taking, all the numbers should be aligned vertically, one number over down the length of the paper.

The lower case letters are the details of the details. When more information is required, that is when lower case letters are used. Throughout the note taking, all lower case letters should line up vertically on the paper.


Step Three

When writing the information for each part of the notes like the main idea or details, always leave a space between the letter or number before recording the information. If a second line is needed to record the information, start the second line underneath the beginning of the first line so that the left indentation is the same.



Note taking is an important activity and skill. To be effective, notes need to be organized in a structured format that allows for easy access to information. Failure to follow the format may result in confusion and reduce the effectiveness of the notes.