It amazes me how much school has changed since I graduated. One change is the Cornell Notes method. Despite being one of the most popular systems around, I’m told there isn’t an online paper supplier. Rather than pulling out a ruler or calling college bookstores, I thought this would be an opportunity to show you how to create a Word template for Cornell notes (Check Resources sections for Cornell Notes template for Microsoft Word.)
If you’re not familiar with Cornell Notes and the benefits, then take 5 minutes to watch this video presented by a teacher.
Word templates are a special type of file designed for reuse. Templates provide the structure and more items such as auto text entries and macros. They are the basis by which Word documents are created whether it’s a new document or a sales letter. In fact, Word starts by opening a blank page based on an auto start macro in the normal.dotm template.
Microsoft comes with many pre-built templates and groups them by function. You may have other templates that add-in tools or programs have created. You see this interface when you select File | New. You’ll see a listing of your available templates. On the top row
How to Create the Cornell Notes Template
If you’ve not seen the Cornell Note-taking system, it divides a 8.5″ x 11″ page into three sections: Cue Column (1), Note taking Column (2) and Summary (3).
Depending on your preferences, some people like to have the note taking area (2) lined like notepaper. For our template, we’ll add the lines.
Setting the Template Page dimensions
- Open a new Word document
- From the Page Layout tab, select Margins
- Click Custom Margins… from the bottom of the drop down.
- In the Page Setup dialog enter 0 for Bottom, Left and Right margins. For Top, use 1″.
- Click OK. (If you get a message saying your margins are outside the printable area, click Fix and then OK.)
- Press your Enter key once.
- Press Enter 1x in case you ever want to add leading text like class name.
Creating the Table
- From the Insert tab, select Table.
- From the Insert Table menu, select Insert Table…
- On the Insert Table dialog, enter 2 for columns and 34 for rows.
- Click OK. You should now see your table.
- Right-click in any table cell in column 1. From the menu, click Select and then Column. This should turn column 1 blue.
- Right-click again and select Merge Cells
You should now have 2 equal-width table columns. The first column will not have any lines.
Setting Table Column Widths and Row Height
In the initial example, you can see that the 2 columns are differing widths so we need to define those. You may also adjust the column widths and row height to your desired settings.
- Right-click column 1 and select Table Properties…
- Click the Column tab, and enter 2.4 for the Preferred width.
- Click the Next Column button >>.
- Enter 6.0 for Column 2 Preferred width.
- Click the Row tab
- Click the check box for Specify height and type 0.25.
- In the Row height is field, select Exactly.
- Click OK.
If you go to Print Preview, you will see the cell lines in the Cue column (1) do not display and you have a summary area (3)at the bottom. I intentionally added 1″ before the table as it makes it easier if you need to adjust the position or add a description.
Saving the Template
- From the File menu, select Save As.
- In the Save As dialog, navigate to your Templates folder. This will vary based on your profile. As example, mine is:
- At the bottom of the dialog, type Cornell Notes as your File name.
- Change the Save as type to Document Template (*.dotx).
- Click Save.
The Microsoft Community has several posts on template locations. Alternatively, you can right-click on an existing icon in your My Templates area and look at the file location.
Using the Cornell Note-taking Template
- From the File menu, select New.
- Click the icon for My Templates on the top row.
- Click the Cornell Note template.
- Click OK.
Your document will open and you can make further changes. For example, some people may want to adjust the top area to type class name and date. That’s why I added the paragraph break before the table. Other people put their name in case the notes are lost. Finally, print out how many copies you’ll need and head to class.
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