5 easy NoteTaking Methods you can try this semester

note-taking methods

Note taking is one of the most fundamental things for a student. Taking notes will help us recall the information and summarise it in our own words.

So, what are the best note-taking methods out there?

Well, there will be no specific or single answer to that question. But if you ask me, my favourite will be mind-mapping.

If you’re still struggling in finding the best note taking method, well maybe you find the one from this article.

Let’s dive in.

mapping method

1. The Mind Mapping Note taking

The mapping method of note taking involves mainly the key idea that is interrelated with each other. It is a graphical representation of the topic that requires both comprehension and concentration skills.

When I suggested this method to my students, most of them said it looks very complex. Well, it is not.

This note-taking method is not rigid and evolves as we understand the topic deeper.


How to take the mind map note?


  • Before coming to the class or during the preparatory stage, the notes will be very minimal and include the important key point or key element from the topic.
  • If you have the objectives of the lecture or the learning outcome, it should give you the main point for your map. This should take around 10-15minutes.
  • During the class: Listen attentively and try to comprehend as much as you can while expanding the map. Find the keyword that gives you an understanding of the concept.
  • Tip: Rather than writing the whole sentence, just use the simple keyword to expand the branch.
  • If there is a certain concept or idea that is not clear, ask a question to your Prof/lecturer/ tutor. This will help strengthen your understanding and the linking in the map will make more sense.
  • Post-class session: As you revise that topic, use the mapping notes as your guide to go through the book. Expand again the notes to include the part that you think is important for that topic.

Personally, I find this is the best note-taking process as it helps me to participate actively in class. 

Rather than just listening to the lecturer’s explanation blindly, I am forcing myself to think, ask the question and make a relation of the topic while finding the best keyword that represents the certain concept.

Additionally, when having these mapping notes, will help me to navigate when I read the textbook in detail. 

It helps my revision session to become more focused, concise, and easy because I have the map ready. 

Pros and Cons of Mind map note taking


  • Force us to actively participate in class by asking a question and listening to the explanation with a certain thought in mind.
  • Can see the relationship between subtopics and how its related to each other.
  • Just by using a single paper, you can summarize the conceptual framework of the topic


  • Can seem very messy for some.
  • Difficult to add an extra note in the future.
  • Can be confusing at times.

2. The Outline Note taking Method

For me, this is the most basic and traditional way of note-taking. I think most of the time if you used to take notes in class, you will be using the outlining method. This method allows you to have more organized and structured notes.

This method uses a heading and bullet point to organize the topic.


How do you use outlining method to take notes?


  • starts writing the main topic/ point at the top far left part of the page.
  • The supporting point will be written beneath it with the help of bullet points.
  • The idea is that the flow of the notes will flow from general to specific ideas.

Pros and Cons of outline note taking method


  • Neat and organize.
  • Highlight important main point.
  • Minimize time to write and review the notes.
  • Simple and easy to practice.


  • Look simple and similar to the textbook.
  • Not suitable for a lecture that doesn’t follow the structure or flow of the topic.
outline and flow method

3. The Flow Method

This is another favourite. The flow method is said to be the simple version of mind mapping. 

But compared to the mind map, this flow method is all about the connection between the point.

Usually, the flow method is used in combination with other methods.


flow notes 1

how to take Flow Method of Note taking?


  • Start with the main title of the flow chart.
  • With the help of the arrow, write the process step by step.

Pros And Cons Of flow Note Taking method


  • Suitable for explaining the process.
  • Easy to understand.
  • Visually pleasing.


  • Not for straightforward information.
  • Didn’t really explain the whole concept but only parts of it.
flow notes 2

4. The Cornell Method

Cornell method

The Cornell note-taking method help can be applied to various types of notes. The page will be divided into 3-4 sections.


How To Take Cornell Method Of Note Taking?


  • The page is divided into 4 sections.
  • The 10% top page will be the Main title of the topic/notes.
  • The 20-30% bottom page should be the summary part.
  • The centre page will be divided into 2 columns. 30% of the width will be on the left side and 70% will be on the right column.
  • The main notes will go to the main note-taking column.
  • The smaller column is for the question, key points, and comments related to the actual notes.
  • At the end of the lecture, summarise the main idea at the bottom of the page.

Pros and cons of cornell Note Taking method


  • Organized notes.
  • Easier to read and understand as the notes have been summarized in a systematic manner.
  • Reduce reviewing time during revision.


  • Need to prepare the page lining before class.
  • Maybe be boring to some.
  • Couldn’t concentrate fully in class as need to write the notes.

5. The Charting Method of note taking

charting or table method

This method use column to organize facts and information. 

This is an ideal method for notes that consists of a lot of facts that are straightforward information.

It is best to show a comparison that is organized into several columns.


How To Take Charting Method as Note Taking?


  • Create a different category in each column.
  • Fills the details of each category in the row.

Pros and cons of charting method Note Taking


  • Easy to make the comparison and similarity between the category.
  • Facts are organized in a manner that is easy to see.
  • Important information is highlighted in each column.


  • Not suitable for topics that required explanation.
  • Time-consuming.
  • Boring and not attractive to review the notes later.

There you go. 5 note-taking methods that you can try yourself. I use the combination of some based on the topic and how the subject is presented.

Which note-taking methods do you think work best for you?

Comment and share your thoughts!

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