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5 Best Note Taking Methods at Work, updated in 2024


Astrid Tran 22 April, 2024 8 min read

What are your favorite note taking methods? Check out the benefits of having the correct note taking methods along with the best 5 options in 2023.

Note-taking skill is one of the most critical job skills that each employee should possess. Depending on your work condition and style, you can use different note taking methods to help you stay organized, remember important details, and communicate effectively with colleagues or team members. By developing consistent and efficient note taking methods, you can boost your productivity and enhance your work performance.

So, What are effective Note Taking Methods at Work that you should learn more about? It might take time and effort to find the best methods for you, so don’t be afraid to keep trying different note taking methods until you find the ones helping you achieve better results. 

In this article, you’ll learn more details about the advantages and disadvantages of the 5 best note taking methods and some tips to enhance your note-taking skills at work.

Table of Contents

note taking methods at work
What are effective note taking methods?

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What are 5 methods of taking notes?Cornell method, outline method, charting method, mind mapping, and digital notes.
Who developed the Cornell note-taking method?Walter Pauk created the Cornell Method.
What are the 5 R’s of note taking?Record, Reduce, Recite, Reflect and Review.
Overview of “note taking technique“.

#1. Cornell Method – Note Taking Methods

The Cornell Method is a popular note-taking system developed around the 1950s by Walter Pauk, Cornell University’s professor. This method involves dividing your notes into three sections: a main notes section, a cue column, and a summary section.


  • You can organize your notes clearly and logically with its structured note-taking format
  • You can quickly review the main points of your notes without having to read through all of your notes again.
  • As you have to actively engage with the material you are studying, which can help you better understand and retain the information


  • It can be time-consuming to create the layout for each set of notes
  • It can be challenging if you have a lot of notes to take as it is limited space provided for each section
  • It may not work as well for subjects that require more detailed and technical notes
Best note taking methodsCornell Method

#2. Outline Method – Note Taking Methods

One of the most detailed note taking methods that can be named here is the Outline method which involves creating a hierarchical list of main points and sub-points, using indentation to show the relationship between them. So, what makes the outline method an effective note-taking technique?


  • There are no limited space required for specifying information
  • You can quickly and easily review your notes before presentation or meetings
  • You can naturally draw arrows and lines to create a relationship between topics and subtopics


  • It might not work well on some STEM subjects
  • It is hard to use this technique if the lecture is too fast and jumps from topic to topic, or lacking of a structured and coherent flow

#3. Charting Method – Note Taking Methods

When organizing information in a table or chart format, you should implement a charting method. This note taking method is often used to compare and contrast information, highlight important details, and identify relationships between ideas.


  • You can quickly organize information, make comparisons and connections between ideas, and provide a clear visual representation of the information.
  • You can see how different pieces of information relate to each other, which can make it easier to comprehend complicated information
  • You can quickly organize information into categories and subtopics, leading to identifying key points more easily.


  • It might not be suitable for subjects that are more subjective or require more detailed explanations
  • You might face limitation in design chart as you don’t have enough space to include all the information you need
  • Creating a chart requires additional effort and can be time-consuming.
Best note taking styles.

#4. Mind Mapping – Note Taking Methods

In mind mapping note-taking technique, you are supposed to create a diagram to rearrange information visually. It facilitates using branches, keywords, and images to connect the main concept with subtopics and additional points.


  • You can build up a clear visual representation of the information and remember all the details effectively
  • It makes complex information become easier and simpler to understand and absorb
  • It encourages creativity and increase productivity


  • It is time-consuming for you to master this technique at first, as well as design a large diagram for a huge information
  • It is not a good idea to put it in report as space is not enough for a big, complex, interrelated information

#5. Digital Notes – Note Taking Methods

Compared to traditional note taking methods, digital note taking tools can be far more advanced and convenient. Many digital apps help you take notes more efficiently. You also can directly note your key points in your slides so that you can review your presentation quickly.


  • You can access your notes from anywhere as long as you have a device with internet connectivity. This makes it easier to review your notes on the go, share them with others, and collaborate on projects
  • It allows you to organize your notes in folders or notebooks, making it easier to keep your notes tagged and categorized and searched quickly
  • It help reduce the amount of paper waste, helping to minimize your carbon footprint.


  • You may get distraction as you are more easily to be tempted to check social media or other apps while taking notes.
  • Suppose you rely solely on digital note-taking methods and experience a technology failure. In that case, you may lose your notes, making it essential to have backups or alternate methods for keeping your notes.
  • Long screen time might not be good for your health, leading to eye strain, headaches and other health problems.
Besides note-taking methods, you should also learn ten techniques to brainstorm wisely and effectively.

Bonus: 7 Tips to be Not-Taking Mastery

During business meetings, there is not much time for you to take notes or use your favourite note taking methods. Here are some tips for effective note-taking in the workplace:

  1. Focus on the main ideas
  2. Use shorthand
  3. Be organized
  4. Review and revise
  5. Use technology to your advantage
  6. Avoid distractions
  7. Please keep it simple

Key Takeaways

What is the best note-taking method? The answer is each has its benefits and drawbacks between 5 note taking methods. Regardless of your chosen method, finding a system that works best for you and sticking to it consistently is essential. Effective note-taking methods can help you stay organized and capture all the essential information you need for your work. Additionally, you must review your notes regularly to ensure you have all the necessary information and identify any action items or follow-up tasks.

Besides note taking methods, you should also learn how to prepare a good presentation so that everyone can capture all your key points and take notes easily. AhaSlides can help you to deal with many Death by PowerPoint issues and enhance engagement.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the 4 steps to note-taking?

Here are 4 steps that you should follow while note-taking:
1. Ensure the information is appropriate to your own context.
2. Organize and sort the information into categories.
3. Create mind maps.
4. Put the knowledge you’ve learnt into your life practically.

Why is the Cornell method effective?

The Cornell method is efficient and powerful, allowing you to think critically and in detail about the knowledge. Therefore, you will remember quickly and lastingly.