Effective Note-Taking Methods You Should Try

Note-taking is an important practice if you want to be successful. It may be an old-fashioned idea, but its benefits cannot be ignored. 

According to a published article by world-learning research, people do NOT remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, 30% of what they hear. A study also has proven that we tend to forget information we don’t work with repeatedly, and if we do not return our focus on the new information, we will forget about 40% of this new information over the first 24 hours. 

What can you do to remember all the important information? This is by note-taking.

Note-taking is one of the most effective methods that you can use to retain and retrieve almost all of the information you have received.

Here are the reasons why note-taking not only helps retain and retrieve information but also boosts your productivity. 

  • Develops your prioritizing skills.
  • Helps you remember the information better by writing down key ideas.
  • Creates an efficient reference material. 
  • Helps you learn more.
  • Tests your attention, memory, and understanding of the material.
  • Encourages active learning.
  • Increases creativity and innovation.
  • Helps you to organize your thoughts and ideas.

Effective Note-Taking Methods

There are different types of note-taking methods or techniques. The efficacy of it depends on your personal style, the method you prefer or the one you are most comfortable with.

The methods that we will list down will guide you to improve the way you take down notes. 

Outline Note-Taking Method

This is probably the most popular and most commonly used method in note-taking. In this method, you structure your notes from an outline in a highly logical manner and use bullet points, number lists, arrows, etc. to represent different topics and subtopics. 

How does the outline method work?

Start writing your main topic on the farthest left of the page. Add the subtopic/s below your main topic using an indent to the right. Then you can outline supporting information under your subtopics by adding another indent. 


This is the main topic.

  • Your subtopic goes here.
    1. Add your first supporting information here.
    2. Your second supporting information should go here, and so on.
  • Your second subtopic goes here.
    1. Add your supporting information here.
    2. Second supporting information, and so on.

You can use the outline note-taking method in almost any situation, especially during meetings or lectures. It is also easy to review and will also help your thoughts during meetings or discussions to declutter, become well-organized, and find flow. 

Mapping Note-Taking Method

This is a note-taking method that is a more visual way to organize your notes. It uses a graphical representation of information, making the information easy to digest. The mapping method is an effective way of retaining information better. You are using your critical thinking skills to create a visual picture in your mind by using logical maps that connect and organize facts and other information.

How does the mapping method work?

Start writing your main topic on the top or left side of the map, and then keep diving on the subtopics and supporting information as your map extends further down, adding bullet points underneath each subtopic.  



The use of visual images, codes, and colors can be helpful in remembering information. It is because it helps develop a pattern that you can associate with the words and concepts of the information.


Cornell Note-Taking Method

What makes this note-taking method different from others is that there are several ways to take notes. The page layout can be divided into three or four different sections/columns.

How does the Cornell method work?

The first row is optional and can be placed at the topmost part of your page. This is where you will add the title and date.

Next, add two columns at the bottom of your first row. This will be the body or center of your page. The first column (left part of your page) should have a width of about 30% of your page’s center. This is where you are going to write your keywords and comments or questions. Your second column (right part of your page) should have a width of about 70%, as this is where you will add your notes.

The last or fourth row is for your summary, and it should be placed at the bottom of your page. 



Sentence Note-Taking Method

The sentence note-taking is a simple yet effective method, and this is done by simply writing down in each line an important point like jotting down notes in a sentence. 

One advantage of the sentence method compared with the other note-taking method we have covered is that it is clear and easily deciphered because you are writing down the entire statement. 

How does the sentence method work?

Write down the new thought, fact, and important information you are receiving from the source, e.g., teacher or presenter, or from any material.  Use headlines to emphasize on your main topic and start on a new sentence for every new point or detail. 


A revolution is any occurrence that affects other aspects of life, such as economic life, social life, and so forth. Therefore revolutions cause change. (See page 29 to 30 in your text about this.)

Sample Notes:

Revolution – occurrence that affects other aspects of life: e.g., econ., socl., etc. C.f. text, pp. 29-30

If you are having difficulty in note-taking and are interested in learning the basics and getting ultimate results, you should start taking the Get Ultimate Results With The Note Taking System online course by Skill Success. This online course is designed to help you develop an easy-to-follow note-taking system that will turn your scribbles into a ‘note’-worthy study program.

Ready to improve your note-taking skills? Click here to get started.

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