Print friendly page | Mobile site | Accessibility | Help | About S3 | Contact S3

Study Success at Sussex (S3)

Note-making styles

When making notes you will need to choose a method that you feel comfortable with and that suits your purpose, as notes are for you, nobody else.

You will see below examples of three different note-making styles: standard format notes, pattern notes and split page format.

Standard notes are written in a linear format down the page. Presentation is important and good presentation can be achieved by:

  1. using sequences of numbers and letters to show the relationship between items
  2. using different sequences at different levels of importance so that

    i) minor items are not confused with major ones
    ii) items on the same level are visually associated

Advantages

  • Can be very clear, with highlighting
  • Divided well, they can easily be added to
  • Can help to emphasise points to keep clear
  • Useful when there is a clear structure

Disadvantages

  • Can be boring to look at and hard to read
  • Risk of repeating what is said

Example page of standard linear notes

Example page of standard linear notes

Example page of standard linear notes

Pattern Notes are more visual. You start by writing the main topic in the centre and then add related ideas. Make sure you make links between ideas where appropriate.

Advantages

  • Easy and quick to make and add to
  • Visual impression can be very easy to understand and remember
  • Not fixed in any order
  • Links are made obvious
  • Less likely to write too much
  • Interesting to look at
  • Link new and existing knowledge

Disadvantages

  • May be hard to decide what order they are in
  • What if you run out of space?
  • Hard to expand once space is filled

Example page of pattern notes

Split Page / The Cornell System involves dividing up the page into 3 sections with your own comments /questions on the left, standard notes on the right and a summary at the end.

Advantages

  • Specifically designed for taking notes in lectures
  • Provides a way of organising notes
  • Generates revision topics

Disadvantages

  • Visually, not very stimulating
  • Temptation to write down too much
  • May take time to learn how to use method effectively

Example page of split page notes

Example page of split page notes

You can read more about writing notes and try this for yourself on the Making notes page.