How to Do Cornell Notes on Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cornell notes are a fantastic way to organize your thoughts and study material. It’s a system that divides your notes into summaries, cues, and note-taking sections. On Microsoft Word, you can create a template to use for all your note-taking needs. After this quick overview, you’ll be able to whip up a Cornell notes template in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Do Cornell Notes on Word

Before jumping into the steps, let’s lay out what we’re aiming for. We want to create a document in Word that has two columns: one for cues or questions and another for notes. There’ll also be a section at the bottom for a summary.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Word

Open up a new document in Microsoft Word where you’ll create your Cornell notes template.

Starting with a new document ensures you have a clean slate to work from. It’s like having a fresh piece of paper every time you start taking notes.

Step 2: Create a Table

Insert a table that has two columns and as many rows as you need for your notes.

Tables are the secret sauce for Cornell notes in Word. They help you keep your notes and cues organized and in their own distinct areas.

Step 3: Adjust the Column Widths

Make the right column larger than the left column, as this is where you’ll write your main notes.

The right column is your canvas for detailed notes, so you want to give yourself plenty of space to write. The left column is just for keywords or questions, so it can be narrower.

Step 4: Add a Row for the Summary

At the bottom of your table, add a row that spans across both columns for your summary.

The summary at the bottom is like the cherry on top of your note-taking sundae. It’s where you’ll distill all the important points from your notes into a concise overview.

Step 5: Save as a Template

Save your document as a Word template so you can use it again and again.

By saving your document as a template, you’re setting yourself up for success in the future. The next time you need to take notes, you’ll have your perfectly tailored Cornell notes template ready to go.

Once you complete these steps, you’ll have a reusable Cornell notes template in Word. This will streamline your note-taking process, allowing you to focus more on the content and less on the setup.

Tips for Doing Cornell Notes on Word

  • Use shortcut keys (like Ctrl + T) to insert a table quickly.
  • Customize your template with different fonts or colors to make it more personal.
  • Consider adding a header with the class name and date for better organization.
  • Use the "Styles" feature in Word to format your headings and summary consistently.
  • If you’re taking notes digitally during a class, have your template open and ready to go before the lecture starts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal width for the cue column?

The cue column should be about 2.5 inches wide, allowing enough space for questions or keywords without taking up too much room.

The cue column is like the appetizer to the main course of your notes. You want it to be substantial enough to whet your appetite, but not so large that it overwhelms the plate.

Can I add more than one summary section?

Yes, you can add multiple summary sections if you’re covering different topics on one page.

Think of each summary section as a mini conclusion to a chapter in your notes. They help wrap up each topic neatly before you move on to the next.

How can I make my notes more visually appealing?

Try adding color-coded headers or bullet points to organize your notes better.

Visual appeal can make your notes not just prettier, but also more functional. Color-coding, for instance, can help you quickly locate specific sections.

Can I share my Cornell notes template with others?

Absolutely, you can share your template with classmates or colleagues to help them improve their note-taking as well.

Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to tools that can boost productivity and learning. Plus, you might get some good karma points too.

How should I title my Cornell notes document?

Title your document with the name of the subject and date for easy reference later.

A good title makes all the difference when you’re sifting through a stack of digital notes. It’s like labeling your leftovers; it helps you know what’s what at a glance.


  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Create a table with two columns.
  3. Adjust the column widths.
  4. Add a row for the summary.
  5. Save as a template.


Cornell notes are a game-changer when it comes to taking effective and organized notes. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone who loves to stay organized, mastering how to do Cornell notes on Word can elevate your note-taking skills to the next level. Remember, the key is to have a system in place that works for you – one that allows you to easily review, understand, and retain the information you’re jotting down.

With the steps outlined above, you now have a roadmap to creating a Cornell notes template in Word that you can use for any class or meeting. The beauty of this system is its flexibility; you can tweak it to suit your style and needs. Perhaps you’ll add in some color-coding, or maybe you’ll come up with a shorthand system for your cues.

The point is, once you have your template, the sky’s the limit. You can take these foundational steps and build upon them to create a note-taking masterpiece. So go ahead, give it a try. And the next time you’re in a lecture or a meeting, watch how effortlessly your notes flow onto the page, neatly organized and ready for review. Who knows, you might just become the Cornell notes guru among your peers!

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