How to Do Cornell Notes on Microsoft Word

Updated April 17, 2017

The Cornell note-taking system, developed by Walter Pauk, is a study system designed to help anyone take and organise notes, whether it is for class or a business meeting. The system uses a sheet of paper that is divided into three sections. You have a wide column on the right for taking notes, a narrower "cue" column on the left for noting questions or keywords, and a summary section at the bottom for summarising the notes. You can design your own Cornell notes page using Word.

Open Word.

Click "View" on the ribbon, and select "One Page" to view the entire page in one window. This will help with creating the table.

Click the "Insert" tab on the ribbon. Click "Table" and select "Draw Table" from the menu.

Click and drag your pencil tool to create the outline for the table. This should be a large box smaller than the size of your page. Do not worry about margins yet.

Place your pencil tool at the left border of the box about a quarter of the way up from the bottom of the box. Click and drag across to the right side to create a straight line. This division will create the summary portion at the bottom.

Place your pencil tool at the top border of the box about a third of the way from the left border. Click and drag down until you see a straight line connecting to the top of the summary box. You should now have a box with three divisions.

Adjust the relative size of each box by clicking on a line and dragging it left or right, up or down. A ruler will appear when you click to help guide you in sizing your cells. The Cornell note-taking system uses 2 1/2 inches for the cue column, 6 inches for the note-taking column and a height of 2 inches for the summary. You need not adhere to these measurements and can create table cells with different sizes, depending on your needs.

Save your document as a template if you intend to take notes directly in Word or save it in document form if you intend to print it.


Adjust the margins of the page before you begin to make your page wider or narrower. You can click the "Page Layout" tab, then the "Margins" button and select margins for your page. Allow more room on the left side of the paper for holes if you intend to hole-punch the paper.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Danielle Cort has been a freelance writer since 2008, specializing in psychology, health, education and parenting. She has published articles in "Family" magazine. Before becoming a freelance writer, Cort worked in the public policy research sector, conducting research, creating surveys and budgets. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in social psychology from the University of Massachusetts.