7 Best Note-Taking Template Packs for College Students
Taking excellent notes isn’t just about listening to the lecture and jotting down important points. Keeping your notes organized and easy to study can help you quickly make sense of new ideas. This can be critical leading up to a quiz or final exam.
An effective note-taking template can help you improve your study skills and perfect your note-taking techniques. Templates also create uniformity within your notes, so that navigation is easier and everything stays organized.
Below, we’ve listed seven of the best note-taking template packs and layouts that we could find, along with instructions on how to use them in most note-taking apps.
Let’s jump right in.
Table of contents
Check Your App Templates First
Before you start investigating the note-taking templates we’ve selected, be sure to check the template settings within the digital app that you use to take notes.
All of the templates and layouts listed below are delivered as digital PDFs. Many of these design packs offer features that may already be available within your note-taking app, so be sure to check before you purchase them.
Notability, GoodNotes, and Noteshelf — three of our favorite apps for high school and college students — all feature options to create a wide variety of paper templates, including squared, dotted, and lined paper. GoodNotes offers a Cornell Notes template, as well as columned paper. Noteshelf features an in-app store where you can download new paper packs completely free.
There are some limitations to what you can do within each app. That’s where the note-taking templates come in.
Import the PDFs into your note-taking app and use them to keep your lecture notes neat and organized. No matter what note-taking method you use, you can find a template that will help you succeed.
Originally, the Cornell note-taking system was invented by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University, who also authored the book How to Study In College. The goal behind the Cornell Notes system is to help students condense and make sense of information by laying out the notes page in a very specific way.
We love this template selection because it stays true to the Cornell Method of note-taking while still providing a high level of customization.
This set of note-taking templates includes a total of 48 different pages spread across two layouts. The pack includes both one- and two-page layouts, along with lined, grid, and dotted variations in the note-taking area.
You’ll also find layouts with and without headings. This is particularly useful for students who want to learn this note-taking strategy but who may find the headers tedious after mastering the format.
The Cornell Notes pack goes above and beyond what you can find inside the default app layouts by adding lined and dotted options to a specific section of the page and by providing ready-made, multi-page layouts.
This pack of student-friendly, printable PDFs comes equipped with a variety of templates that you can use for lectures, study notes, and more.
Inside, you’ll find line papers in both single- and two-column formats, as well as grid and dotted papers with various spacing options. The pack also features a collection of Cornell papers with various lined and grid options.
Our favorite takeaway from this pack is the lecture papers. These papers provide the maximum amount of space for note-takers while still constraining notes to a single page. The lecture papers feature a header bar so that notes are easy to file and organize, and they come in squared, lined, gridded, and blank options.
If you’re a doodler or a visual learner, and you’re planning to use an illustrative method like boxing, charting, or bullet points to take notes, the papers in this pack can help you achieve your goals and keep your notes organized at the same time.
While this paper pack isn’t for traditional study notes, it’s a great note-taking template to have in your toolkit. This pack is all about helping you brainstorm for your next big project.
For students who need a quick way to consolidate project notes, checklists, and to-dos, this kind of template can be a lifesaver. The page is divided into five distinct sections:
- Lined Notes
- Dotted Notes
- Empty Box
How you use the template is up to you. You might want to sketch an image in the empty box or import a photo for inspiration. Your checklist could be to-dos or useful hacks and ideas to expedite the project.
This template comes with a ton of flexibility, and that’s why we love it. Rather than defining the use case for each space, those choices are left up to the user.
If you’re looking for the be-all and end-all of paper templates, this pack may be for you. Equipped with 160 templates, you’ll find almost every kind of note-taking layout available in a variety of color combinations and layouts.
Realistically, this pack contains five or six primary page layouts that are formatted in a variety of styles and colors. For example, a common format in this set is a two-column page with a line down the middle. In one version, both columns will be empty/blank. In another, one side is lined and another is blank. In the next, one column uses a grid pattern while the other side remains blank.
While these small changes to layout and design may seem tedious, they provide a huge amount of variety and allow you to customize your digital notebooks to maximum effect.
On top of the basic layouts, the pages in this pack also come in a variety of light and dark colors. You’ll simply select the template that makes sense for you and import that file to the note-taking app of your choice. Depending on how you’ve set up your working environment, lighter or darker colors may make more sense. With 160 different options to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding a perfect fit for your workspace.
Have you ever been part of a group project for your class? Group projects are never a student favorite, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be prepared.
This collection of meeting notes templates gives you everything you need to set an agenda, take notes, and create an action plan that makes sense for your group. Whether you’re leading the meeting or finalizing assignments, this template can help you streamline your meaning and keep a running record of project progress. Especially if your project group contains a slacker or a freeloader, taking careful notes can help you protect your grade from any lackluster performance by your peers.
While there are multiple templates to choose from, we’re big fans of the standard format because of the action plan and agenda columns. Be sure to check out the other layouts and see what works best for you.
While the Cornell note-taking system and other note-taking strategies are very rigid in their layouts, your personal style may be more flexible. If you use unconventional formats to boost your thinking skills, the page templates in this section may be just the thing.
Unlike most of the other layouts featured in this list, these note-taking templates are formatted around the idea of boxes. This isn’t a perfect match to the traditional boxing method of note-taking, but it’s close. Even at a glance, it’s easy to see how you could use these layouts to learn new words or enhance your reviewing and reading strategies.
If you’re more of a visual learner, the dot grid may make more sense than the lined paper. Either way, this collection of printables makes it easy to create graphics, charters, or other graphic organizers during the note-taking process.
Are you looking for elegantly designed, clean note-taking templates? You’ll definitely want to give these a look!
This pack of 50 has the widest selection of templates that we’ve seen so far and includes everything from traditional, lined sheets all the way to grids, dots, and beyond. There are even specialized lecture templates, box templates, and layouts for various graphic organizers.
The lines on each of these templates in this pack are soft and easy on the eyes, minimizing the distractions you’ll experience while using the template. The one drawback to this set is that it’s all in white. If you’re using Dark Mode, the lighter pages probably won’t work for you. Fortunately, the creator offers an inverted version for Dark Mode users, which you can find here.
While you won’t be able to use this pack to track notes, we wanted to feature this because these sheets are excellent for high school and college students alike.
This variety pack comes with sheets that you can use to track all assignments and tasks from within your daily organizer or note-taking app. If you’re planning to use a notebook-based app like GoodNotes or Noteshelf, adding these sheets into your notebooks can help you manage your class time and stay on top of important dates and events.
How To Use These Templates
All of the templates we’ve covered are PDF files that are both printable and editable in their PDF formats. Each product is ready-made, so there is no need to edit the document before putting it to good use.
If you’re planning to use them in a physical notebook, you’ll need to print them out and punch holes in the page before adding them to your binder or notebook.
When using any note-taking template in a digital format, all you need to do is locate the file and import it directly to the note-taking app of your choice.
Template Importing In Note-Taking Apps
Most note-taking apps allow you to do this by importing a file or image directly from the interface. Simply locate the file and use the import tool to bring it into the app.
We tested this on our three favorite apps: Noteshelf, GoodNotes, and Noteshelf. GoodNotes and Noteshelf were a breeze to work with. When importing the PDF file, both apps understood that we intended to use the file as a background of the document. When we filled up the sheet and created a new page, the app duplicated a blank PDF and we continued with no problem.
Unfortunately, Notability gave us some trouble. While there is a convoluted way to import templates in the app, it mostly comes down to importing the document, then duplicating that document over and over again each time you want to create a new note.
The problem is that Notability doesn’t seem to understand that the imported image or PDF is supposed to be the background of the document. If you add a new page to your note, Notability just adds a blank, white page.
Keep this in mind if you’re planning to use Notability as your primary workhorse for notes. There are a lot of things to love about that app, but it falls short here.
What About Free Templates?
While the note-taking templates we featured are well-designed, they come with a price tag.
If you’re looking for free templates, surfing the web with a quick Google search or Pinterest session will probably yield some useful results — but the templates we found weren’t very attractive.
If you’re looking for ready-made templates, our template selection may be the better (and faster) fit.
Complete Your Note-Taking Setup With Paperlike
If you’re planning to use an iPad to take notes during the school semester, you’ll need to be quick and precise as you jot them down. Unfortunately, even the perfect template won’t be able to stop your stylus from sliding across the glass surface of your tablet while you write.
Paperlike was invented to solve this problem. Our screen protector gives the glassy surface of your iPad the texture and resistance of real paper. With Paperlike, you can write and draw as if you were using traditional tools while still taking advantage of everything your iPad has to offer.