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16 Cornell Notes Templates to Make You a Power Learner

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Cornell notes templates turn ordinary note-taking into a powerful tool for learning and retaining knowledge.

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    This method will boost your study skills, making it easy to review and retain learning material.

    In fact, the Cornell notes method is more than just a note-taking technique, it’s also a system that makes studying easier. Instead of just passively writing stuff down (and forgetting it later), you write down questions and a short summary of your notes, which help you connect information and retain it.

    About the Templates

    I created 16 Cornell notes templates with eight different color banners across the top. Scroll down through this article, and you’ll see that there are eight templates saved as Word documents and eight templates saved as pdf files. Continue scrolling to see each template.

    The Word document version is great for typing directly into the file. The pdf version is great for using on a note-taking app, like Good Notes, Notability, and Flexcil.

    Cornell notes template in gray green. Download as a Word file.
    Cornell notes template pdf download in gray green.

    Scroll through the article to see all 16 files. You’ll see that the Word version is on the left and the pdf version is on the right.

    Five Reasons to Download These Cornell Note Templates

    Besides being completely free, here are five reasons to love these templates:

    1. You can choose from 23 different template design options.
    2. Using this simple note-taking system will boost your study skills.
    3. You’ll find a selection of templates in Microsoft Word and pdf format.
    4. Each template offers a spacious area for writing information down.
    5. The top of each template includes room for recording the date and topic details.

    How to Download the Files

    To download a file, select the image for the Word or pdf version. The file will download instantly, no email is required. A tip – If you’re taking several classes, you might download a different color for each class.

    Cornell notes template Word download in pink.
    Cornell notes template pdf download in pink.

    Why Use the Cornell Note-Taking Method

    It’s frustrating to try making sense of disorganized and incomplete notes. Instead of learning the material, you waste a lot of time trying to make sense of your notes and get them into some kind of usable format.

    Cornell notes make it easy to be uber-organized when it comes to learning. The template is super easy to use and encourages you to actively learn the material. As a result, you’ll be able to do more studying done in less time and you’ll retain more of what you’re studying.

    You can use Cornell notes in any situation where you want to record and retain information:

    • During in-person classes
    • During online classes
    • Watching videos
    • Reading textbooks
    • Reviewing handouts
    • Reviewing learning guides
    Cornell notes template Word download in taupe.
    Cornell notes template PDF download in taupe

    What is the Cornell Note-Taking Method?

    The Cornell note-taking strategy was created in the 1950s by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University. It works just as well today as it did in the 1950s.

    The technique is straightforward and easy to use. All Cornell notes templates have three sections (some include the date and topic area as a fourth). Just fill the sections in and you’re done.

    The simple layout of Cornell notes makes it easy to write down notes, study for exams, and retain what you learned.

    There’s nothing complicated about this system. Anyone can use it.

    The Three Parts of a Cornell Notes Template

    Cornell notes have a simple, easy-to-follow layout. The page is divided into three sections:

    1. Notes column for recording information
    2. Cues column for writing questions and main ideas
    3. Summary section for summing up your notes in your own words

    Sometimes, the header section (it has date and topic details) above the primary elements is listed as a fourth element.

    Cornell notes template Word download in orange.
    Cornell notes template PDF download in orange.

    The Note-Taking Column – Quick Overview

    In the note-taking area on the right-hand side of the page, record the main ideas related to the subject being discussed. These ideas will all be related to the main topic in some way.

    They could, for example, describe the topic, explain why the topic is important, give alternate viewpoints related to the topic, or be classified as subtopics to the main topic.

    The Cue Column – Quick Overview

    In the cue area on the left-hand side of the page, create questions that relate to the notes you recorded. When you write questions based on the information in your notes, you establish continuity – a link – that reinforces your knowledge of the material and why it’s important.

    The Summary Section – Quick Overview

    In the summary area, write two to three sentences summarizing key information in your notes. Always use your own words. In other words, don’t just regurgitate the same words you wrote down in the notes section. Make the same point, just do it using different words.

    Writing a summary in your own words is a good way to get actively involved in learning and get the most out of your study time.

    Cornell notes template Word download in electric green.
    Cornell notes template PFD download in electric green.

    How to Take Notes Using the Cornell Note-Taking Method

    When taking notes, listen for keywords and ideas. There’s no reason to try to record every word the speaker is saying. if you try to write down every word, you’ll miss important information unless you can type as fast as the speaker speaks.

    Instead, focus on listening for the main points being made and record those. Also list for and record information that support the main points.

    Cornell notes template Word download in purple.
    Cornell notes template PDF download in purpose.

    Tips for Taking Good Notes

    Any note-taking technique is only as useful as the notes you make using it. Here are a few tips to take good notes, whether you’re listening to a live lecture, watching a video, or taking notes from written material:

    • Write down phrases, not full sentences.
    • Make a note for repeated keywords and phrases.
    • Use bullet points to keep notes short and organized.
    • Record dates and facts that support key points or ideas.
    • Abbreviate words or use symbols instead of fully writing out words.
    • Use stars, underlines, exclamation points, etc. to emphasize important points.
    • Make sure that points mentioned in any summary sdection are included in your notes.
    Cornell notes template Word download in yellow.
    Cornell notes template PDF download in yellow.

    Tips on How to Use Your Notes Later

    Once you record your notes, what’s the next step? Here are a few ideas to help you get the most use from your notes:

    • Spend 10-15 minutes reviewing your notes to make sure you aren’t missing any information.
    • Write your own questions in the left column (the “cue” area) based on your notes in the right column (the “notes” area).
    • Jot down relevant and related cue words in the left column using your notes in the right column for inspiration.
    • Summarize the main ideas in the material using your own wording and record them in the summary area below the cue and notes columns.

    Want to learn even more about how to use Cornell notes templates? Check out this seven-page pdf on the Cornell Note-Taking System on the Gustavus Adolphus College website.

    A tip – If you use our Microsoft Word template, be sure to save the file as a new Microsoft Word document each time you use it for notes. Otherwise, your notes will write over the existing blank spaces in the document.

    Cornell notes template Word download in green.
    Cornell notes template PDF download in green.

    As always, each file is covered by my safe download promise.

    Final Thoughts on Using Cornell Notes Templates

    I’m a big believer in making everything in life easier. Using the Cornell notes method is an excellent way to make learning easier. Let me know what you think about the templates in the comments.

    We also offer five styles of lined paper in regular and narrow-ruled styles. Our lined paper is free to download.