Skills Hub

Note-making styles

Here are three different note-making styles: standard format notes, pattern notes and split page format. Choose a method you like and that suits your purpose.


Standard notes are written in a linear format down the page. To present them well:

1. Use sequences of numbers and letters to show the relationship between items
2. Use sequences at different levels of importance so that minor items are not confused with major ones, and items on the same level are linked visually.

• Can be clear, with highlighting
• Well divided, so it's easy to add to them
• Can be good for emphasising points
• Useful when there is a clear structure

• 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. Start by writing the main topic in the centre and add related ideas. Make links between ideas where appropriate.

You could use mindmapping software such as MindView or Mindmeister, so you can adapt and develop your notes when you have new ideas. MindView allows you to export your notes as a Word document and automatically transfers the mindmap structure into your new document.

• Easy to make and add to
• Visual notes can be easy to understand and remember
• Not fixed in any order
• Links are obvious
• You're less likely to write too much
• Interesting to look at
• Link new and existing knowledge

• May be hard to decide the order of the material
• Hard to expand mindmap once space is filled

Example page of pattern notes

Split page / Cornell System: divide the page into 3 sections with your own comments and questions on the left, standard notes on the right and a summary at the end.

• Designed for taking notes in lectures
• Good way of organising notes
• Generates revision topics

• Not stimulating visually
• Tempting to write too much
• May take time to learn to do effectively


Example page of split page notes

Example page of split page notes

Read more about note-making and try making your own notes.

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