Take notes

Suggested time: This is dependent on what is being researched. Allow time for recording, summarising and review.

Taking notes helps you focus on and understand the most important concepts of your research.

As you explore online content, videos, magazines and newspapers, you’ll use the Cornell method of note-taking, developed by Dr Walter Pauk of Cornell University. It is a widely used system of taking notes from research, lectures and interviews. The Cornell method helps you organise your notes while becoming actively involved in the creation of knowledge.

Here is what you'll need

Pen or pencils

Cornell template

A template for taking Cornell notes

Follow these steps


Step 1: Explore

Explore recent news and innovations in your topic as well as content on designs, systems and culture.


Step 2: Make notes

As you read, listen, watch or observe, take notes in the large right-hand section of the page. Whenever you come across what seems like an important point, make note of it. Look out for points that are emphasised or repeated.


Step 3: Outline

Keep it simple. Think of your notes as an outline. Focus on getting the key words and points down. Use bullet points, shortcuts and abbreviations. Paraphrase the information. Leave a space or draw a line when you come to a new topic.


Step 4: Locate key ideas and questions

Pull out the main ideas and key facts and write them in the left column. Include any questions that arise. Questions help to clarify meanings and reveal relationships.


Step 5: Summarise

Reflect on your main ideas and their significance. Summarise these in the bottom section of the page.


Step 6: Review

Review your notes often. Consider how they fit in with what you already know and how you can apply this knowledge.

Talk it out with your fellow designers