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MHS Library | Taking notes: The why and the how

The Mapping method of note-taking

Mapping is one of the non-linear note-taking methods. 

  • Mapping uses spatial organization and diagrams to assemble information. Ideas are written in a tree structure, with lines connecting them together. 
  • Mind maps are commonly drawn from a central point, purpose, or goal in the center of the page and then branch outward to identify all the ideas connected to that goal.
  • Colors, small graphics, and symbols are often used to help to visualize the information more easily. (Source: Wikipedia)



The Boxing method of note-taking

The boxing method of note-taking uses boxes to visually separate topics from one another. Thoughts, ideas, and concepts on a particular topic are written down vertically next to each other, forming a topical cluster of information. Then, as new topics are introduced, the previous topical clusters are boxed shut, and new ones are formed.

To a certain extent, the boxing method is similar to the mapping method of note-taking, as both techniques use shapes to group topics together. While the mapping method is great for diving increasingly deeper into subtopics, the boxing method is good for smaller clusters of information that don’t have as many subcategories.

While the boxing method was originally developed for tablets and laptops, it’s also very well-suited for handwritten (longhand) note-taking. After all, boxing notes in a physical notebook is essentially the same as doing so in an iPad.

How to take notes using the Boxing method of note-taking

  1. Split the paper into columns and add headings
  2. Write your notes into the columns
  3. Move, edit, and resize your notes (Optional)
  4. Draw boxes around the topics
  5. Review the boxed notes

Read more at the source

The Cornell note-taking method

The Outline note-taking method

The outlining method is one of the most common models of note taking used by students. Naturally, people use bullet points, numbered lists, or arrows to indicate a new thought. Every major topic of the class or reading will be placed farthest to the left of the page. Subtopics will be added using an indent to the right. Each supporting fact or note is placed below the subtopic, using another indent. This way, the notes add a great structure to the whole lecture or meeting making it easy to review them later.


  • Write points in an organized manner based on space indentation.
  • Place major points farthest to the left.
  • Indent each more specific point farther to the right (level of importance is indicated by distance away from left margin).

Some subjects, such as math or chemistry, where formula or graphs are needed, the outline method should be replaced with a more suitable note-taking system.


  • The outlining method emphasizes content as well as relationships between the material.
  • It reduces the time needed for editing and allows for easy reviewing.
  • This method requires more thought for accurate, understandable organization and, therefore, cannot be used during lectures that move too quickly.


Modified from source 1 and source 2.


The Charting method of note-taking

Charting note taking method uses columns to organize information. This method is useful for lessons that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics.


  • Facts are organized and easy to review.
  • Highlights key pieces of information for each topic.


The page is divided into columns labeled by category. The details of each category are filled out in the rows below.


  1. When information about a category is mentioned, jot it down underneath the proper column.
  2. When the next topic begins move down one row and begin again.