Cornell method with LIbreOffice Writer. Take smart notes

Cornell Method with LibreOffice

Some months ago we comment how to apply with free software a controversial accelerated learning technique called Photo-reading. Now we are going to do it with a slightly more respectable methodology. The Cornell Note-Taking Method.

Originally the method of tCornell Notepad It is designed for note taking using pencil and paper. In fact, especially pre-printed reams are marketed. However, since it is more of a set of principles than a format, it can be easily adapted to digital format.

The Cornell method divides the note-taking process into 3 parts:

  • The dump on the support (originally paper or in our case on the computer, cell phone or tablet) of notes about what we are reading or listening to.
  • The formulation in writing of questions whose answers are fragments of the previous text.
  • The writing of a summary of no more than 3 lines of the content of the notes.

Diagramming the surface

To start taking notes we must divide the 3-part work surface. This is done in the following way.

  • The bottom 20% of the sheet is reserved for a short summary.
  • The top 80% is divided vertically leaving 30% on the left for questions and 70% for the marks themselves.

As a matter of habit, the Cornell method uses a paper that is longer than it is wide. however, there is nothing to prevent you from using the horizontal format suitable for the screens

Cornell method with LibreOffice. This is the procedure.

The advice given by specialists is not to do what they taught us at school. Nothing to write everything the speaker tells us from left to right and from top to bottom. If you are taking notes from a book, do not follow the order established by the author, but rather the one that seems the most appropriate to understand concepts. Grouping of information using numbers or some other order that implies hierarchy is also discouraged.

The best way to group the notes is:

  • Sentences: Write down in our own words what we are reading or listening to. If we are listening, we do not need to write all the words, enough will be enough for the text to make sense over time.
  • Paragraphs: Related ideas are grouped with an identifying heading or tag.
  • Definitions: They consist of a title and a brief explanation of its meaning.
  • Lists: A title and a series of summary sentences each marked with an asterisk.
  • Diagrams: A graphical representation of the idea that we want to write down.

Once this is done we formulate questions whose answers are the different blocks of notes and we write them down on the left side of the sheet. When we finish this part we write a short summary of the text at the bottom.

Creating the stand for taking notes.

The easiest way to create a Cornell note sheet is by using LibreOffice Word. The procedure is the next:

  • Let Format➜Page style.
  • We take note of the width and height of the page. I take the opportunity so that the page is displayed horizontally.
  • We create a table with Table➜Insert Table. The table will have 1 column and two rows and we select the default style.

Now we have to do the math. The sheet is divided horizontally into 80% for the top and 20% for the bottom. In our case the page measures 29,7 x 21 with a margin of 2 cm for each side. This gives us 20,56 cm for the upper column and 5,14 cm for the lower one. We place the pointer on each of the rows and with the right button click on Size Row Height. We uncheck the dynamic adjustment box and put the chosen measurements. You may have to reduce one of the measurements a few inches so that the table is inside the page.

  • We put the pointer on the top row and with the right button we select Split cells. We divide the cell in 2 vertically.
  • We put the pointer in the column on the left and with the right button we choose Size Column width. We choose 30% of the width. In our case.
  • We select the Text Box Form and mark each of the areas with one of them.
  • We export the document as PDF.

Now we can write the notes using the pdf reader of our distribution. So that nor the data entered is lost, we must print the document, but, selecting a file as the destination. If you want to add graphics pYou can open the document with LibreOffice Draw and then re-export it as pdf.


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