No matter whether you learn through classes / lectures, textbooks, online or through another medium, taking notes is a really important step in making sure you understand and remember the material. You can take notes in so many different ways - digitally or by hand, in dot points or paragraphs, in a minimalistic way or more fancily. Below I’ve outlined some of the common ways to take notes, and at the end I’ve included some inspiration for titles, handwriting, etc. I find that different methods work best for different subjects, so don’t be afraid to mix things up. Methods of organising your notes will be covered in a future post.

Cornell Notes

- Cornell notes involve a special page layout that allows you to easily locate information and summarise each topic. As well as a main space for taking notes, each page has a margin for marking subtopics and questions, as well as a section down the bottom for summarising your notes after class. 

- Cornell notes are useful as they make it very easy to locate important information in your notes when summarising or revising them. 

- Here is my own tutorial on how to create Cornell notes. You can use this printable template to make the process easier.

- Here are some lovely examples of Cornell notes by the studyblr community: A | B | C

Outline Notes

- Outline notes involve using indented dot points for increasingly detailed information. They can be created digitally or by hand, and even combined with the Cornell format! 

- Outline notes are useful because they keep information organised in a logical order / hierarchy. They make it easy to tell how important a point is.

- To create outline notes, just use a bunch of dot points with indented points underneath. It can be useful to rotate between the dot point used, for example an arrow for major points and a bullet for indented sub-points. It may also be useful to group related points under subheadings. 

- These are all wonderful examples of outline notes: A | B | C

Sketch Notes

- Sketch notes are essentially any notes that use a visual organisation system and / or pictures to help explain concepts. Generally, they are full of features such as doodles, flowcharts, boxes, arrows, etc.

- Sketch notes are most useful if you are a visual learner. They help to break up information and can be good for explaining complex concepts in simple terms. Also, they are hella pretty. 

- To create sketch notes, just include lots of drawings / icons amongst chunks of regular writing. You can also try organising your page in to sections, like in a mind-map. These are all great reference pages for creating sketch notes: A | B | C ( also refer to ‘more inspiration’ )

- These are some lovely examples of sketchnotes from the studyblr community: A | B | C

Mind Maps

- Mindmaps! These are basically notes organised in a way that links ideas together with arrows. They usually have the main topic in the centre of the page, then ‘branches’ of increasingly more specific information spreading out from there. 

- Mindmaps are helpful because they allow you to show how ideas relate to one-another, rather than just having a bunch of seperate chunks of information. Unlike linear notetaking methods such as outline notes, they allow you to link one idea to as many other concepts as you like

- You can create mindmaps either on paper or using software such as SimpleMind or MindNode. To map on paper, just write your main topic clearly in the centre of the page, then use lines or arrows to indicate relationships between other smaller concepts. Try to keep each point small, as I find mindmaps look neater this way.

- These are all great examples of how you can use the mindmapping technique: A | B | C | D | E

More Inspiration

- Titles: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L

- Handwriting: A | B

- Doodles: A | B | C | D | E | F | G

this post is part of The Student Guide / the Study Methods mini-series | if a link is old just shoot me an ask and I’ll update it

Now that you have set up a study space, it’s a good idea to work out the learning style that suits you best. Depending on your style, different methods of learning and studying will be more effective than others. Knowing your style will help you to study in the way that is most productive for you. After taking this test to determine your style, you may want to consider some of the following methods. You could write them out and stick them to your laptop or desk as a reminder of ways you can study. 

Kinaesthetic ( Movement / Doing )

- Study more hands-on / active subjects such as sport and woodwork.

- Create games to help you study, such as a board game or fitness circuit with questions to answer at each stage. 

- Apply your knowledge to hands-on problems or models.

- Stay active while studying, such as by studying flashcards while on a walk or by kneading putty while reading. 


- Take maths and science based courses.

- Conceptualise complex relationships through a mind map or timeline.

- Present tasks as a problem or puzzle.

- Ask questions about what you are learning, and conduct experiments regarding your hypothesis’. 

- Plan your learning sequentially through use of a subject syllabus / outline and a planner.


- Take music classes as part of your study, or join choir or band.

- Listen to music while you study + replay the song/s immediately before tests.

- Create rhymes or songs as mnemonics. 


- Take subjects that involve a lot of writing or speaking, such as debating, literature or history.

- Memorise complicated concepts through creating written or spoken explanations. 

- Use a question-and-answer format of note taking or creating flashcards.

- Put your material into the context of a story eg. by learning how a particular scientific theory was formed. Crash Course videos provide plenty of background information like this and are a great study resource. 


- Take creative courses such as art and design.

- Represent concepts through visual means such as infographics. 

- Try using sketch notes.

- Look at and draw diagrams when attempting to understand a concept.

- Use colour codes in your notes and organiser. 

Interpersonal vs. Interpersonal Learning

- Interpersonal learners are best giving / receiving feedback, while intrapersonal learners should partake in self-reflective activities.

- Interpersonal learners should talk about concepts they are struggling with, while intrapersonal learners should think about them.

- Interpersonal learners should work in a group when possible ( such as by participating in a study session ), while intrapersonal learners should study alone somewhere quiet.

- Interpersonal learners should make studying into a competition, while intrapersonal learners should set personal goals.

Harry & Snowman

Harry & Snowman is a new, feature-length documentary film telling the story of the deep friendship between a former plow horse and a gifted equestrian, who together make an unexpectedly formidable show jumping team. The world premiere screening will be held on Saturday, April 11 at the Full Frame Film Festival in historic downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Conversation following screening with filmmaker Ron Davis and special guest Harry deLeyer.