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Cornell Notes

Mind Maps

Bullet Points

Mind Mapping    

What is Mind Mapping?

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. A mind map is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

Mind maps can be drawn by hand, either as "rough notes" during a lecture, meeting or planning session, for example, or as higher quality pictures when more time is available. Mind maps are considered to be a type of spider diagram. A similar concept in the 1970s was "idea sun bursting".

Steps to Mind Mapping:
  1. Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
  2. Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
  3. Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  4. Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  5. The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The lines become thinner as they radiate out from the center.
  6. Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  7. Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also for encoding or grouping.
  8. Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
  9. Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
  10. Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy or outlines to embrace your branches.

Cornell Notes    
Steps to creating Cornell Notes:


Divide the Paper Into Three Sections:

  • Draw a dark horizontal line about 5 or 6 lines from the bottom. Use a heavy magic marker to draw the line so that it is clear. When you are finished with your notes, you will summarize the main ideas in this box.
  • Draw a dark vertical line about 2 inches from the left side of the paper from the top to the horizontal line. You will write questions to help you recall your notes later, such as "What is the function of the mitochondria?"


  • Write course name, date, and topic at the top of each page. Ideally, the topic should be a large title so you can tell at a glance what your notes are about.

Write Notes:

  • The large box to the right is for writing notes. Write down what your teacher says and key terms from the slide.
  • Skip a line between ideas and topics.
  • Don't use complete sentences. Use abbreviations, whenever possible. Develop a shorthand of your own, such as using "&" for the word "and".

Review and Clarify:

  • Review the notes as soon as possible after class.
  • Write questions on the left side that will help you to remember the information on the right side. For example, if the right side includes a list of turtle species, your question could be, "What are some different types of turtles?"


  • Write a summary of the main ideas in the bottom section.

Study Your Notes:

  • Re-read your notes in the right column.
  • Spend most of your time testing your knowledge with the questions in the left column and reviewing the summary at the bottom. Knowing definitions and the significance of the information you have learned will help you to understand most of the information that you will be tested on.


Color-coding your notes can help you organize information more effectively and study more efficiently. Optimize your color-coding system and make it a highlight of your study strategy by using the five tips in this article.


Why color-code your notes?

Color-coding is a dynamic way to organize the information that you need to learn. Even if you're short on study time, color-coded notes allow you to rapidly review the most important information.

The use of bright colors captures your attention and is especially stimulating for visual learners. (If you're not sure what your learning style is, you can discover more about the concept in this Study.com lesson.) However, the colors are more than just eye-catching: The significance you give to each hue serves as a form of mental shorthand, giving context to the material you mark and helping you to process it more meaningfully and efficiently.







The Five Tips

Number 1: Color-Code after Initial Note-Taking

You may be tempted to color-code your notes as you're taking them down during a class or a lecture. However, this can be counterproductive. Once you've finished taking notes, you can color-code them without interrupting the flow of information from a lecture or textbook. Color-coding after initial note-taking also gives you the opportunity to organize your notes and to review them as you do so.

Number 2: Choose the Right Tools

  • Highlighters in an array of fluorescent colors
  • Colored pencils for both writing and shading in areas surrounding text
  • Multi-colored pens, which combine several different ink colors in a single writing instrument
  • Sticky notes - available in a wide variety of bright hues, these self-adhering slips of paper can be used to annotate your existing notes with additional comments.
  • Electronic color-coding options - if you take your class notes on a laptop, tablet, or other mobile device, you can color-code them by changing the text color, highlighting the text, or adding comments with virtual sticky notes.

Number 3: Be Consistent

Whether it's red for main ideas, green for action items, or blue for facts and figures, always use the same colors throughout your notes to signify the same categories of information. Keep a table in the front of your notebook with a list of the categories and their corresponding colors.

Try to use the same system for all of your classes to avoid confusion. The meanings of the individual colors will become second nature to you as you use them consistently.

Number 4: Limit Your Color Palette

Don't over-complicate your system by introducing more than three or four colors. In order to make sense of your color-coded notes, you will need to remember what each color means as you study.

Choose highlighter colors that contrast with the text to make the words stand out. Stick to text colors that are easy to read against the page's background.

Number 5: Use Color-Coding Judiciously

Limit your use of color-coding to the most critical information. If everything is highlighted or colored, nothing will stand out as important.

Think of color-coding like road signs: If there were too many road signs, you would be bombarded with too much information and you might even get lost.

In the same way, too much color-coding can be distracting and lead to information overload. Remember that the goal of color-coding is to focus your attention and make your notes clearer and easier to navigate. Every color should serve a specific purpose and point you in the right direction.


Rewriting Notes  

Teachers often emphasize the information they provide in class lectures when they design tests. This means that your class notes are a vital resource when studying for a test. It is important that your class notes be complete and accurate.

The best way to be certain that your class notes are complete and accurate is to review them in the evening while the information that was covered in class is still fresh in your mind. At this time you should rewrite your notes, correcting any errors, filling in any gaps, and adding additional information as appropriate. Rewriting your class notes also gives you the opportunity to improve their organization and to make them neater, thereby making your notes easier to study from. Further, rewriting your class notes reinforces the information so that you will remember it better.











Here are some tips to rewriting notes:

  • Reread your class notes two or three times before beginning to rewrite them. It is important to do this so that you have the “big picture” firm in your mind.
  • Rewrite your class notes in an outline format that shows connections and relationships between various topics and key terms.
  • Question what you have written in your class notes.  Make sure that what you have written makes sense and that you understand what you have written.
  • Compare your class notes with those of another student in your class.
  • Often, much of the information in a teacher's lecture is based upon the information in the textbook. Check to be certain that the information you wrote in your class notes is consistent with corresponding information in the textbook.
  • Use sources of information other than your textbook to gain further understanding of the information in your class notes. The Internet is very helpful in this regard.
  • Change any abbreviations and symbols in your class notes into complete words and statements.
  • Highlight the most important words and concepts in your class notes.
  • Rewrite your class notes in a designated notebook that becomes a primary resource when studying for a test.
  • Jot down any questions you think you may need to ask your teacher at the next class session.

Recorded Lessons