Taking notes

What to pay attention to:

  • Big ideas (summaries, introductions and conclusions)
  • Bullet lists
  • Terms, meaning, definitions, jargon
  • Examples (double important to apply concepts!)

The importance of examples

With example, it is important to have side notes about why the concepts being used work in this case.

Following along an example is not the same as being able to formulate the problem and apply the concept to another example on our own.

How to take notes

There are a lot of note taking method and I am not going to enumerate them all. This very page is a part of the my Zettelkasten, which itself is a note taking method.

However, when it comes to actually writting down notes while listening to a lecture, a video, or reading a book/journal/whatever, it doesn’t help you much with how to take notes.

One system that picked my interest is the Cornel method.

The Cornel Method

Developped by Professor Walter Pauk in 1950’s at Cornell University (hence the name).

Divide your note taking medium into three sections:

  • Step 1: Cues
  • Step 2: Notes
  • Step 3: Summary

It may look like this:

      STEP 2:           |                 STEP 1:
       CUES             |                  NOTES
     (REDUCE)           |                 (RECORD)


After writting down notes and the main cues (examples, clarifications, etc.), one should make a summary of the note.

The summary is the basis for the Zettelkaste notes.

Now, not all notes need to be taken that way. Sometimes a simple bullet list or only writting down the main concept is enough.

Links to this page