What Is the L-Star Note-Taking System?

by Jana Sosnowski
The L-STAR note-taking system provides strategies for organization and retention of notes.

The L-STAR note-taking system provides strategies for organization and retention of notes.

Note taking during a lecture is important for both comprehension and retaining course materials. The goal of note taking in class is to provide an overview of the lecture material for later review and connection to material in textbooks and other course materials. There are several methods to note taking. The L-STAR method is an acronym for the system of listening, setting it down, translating, analyzing and remembering.


The key to listening while note taking is to engage in an active listening strategy. Arrive early and review reading materials or previous notes prepare you for listening to the lecture. During the lecture, listen for key ideas and analysis or synthesis by the lecturer to develop key topics for note taking. Finally, ask questions for clarifying unclear topics to help you fully engage in the lecture.

Setting it Down

The process of setting down information onto paper is organized in several ways. One popular method is the Cornell method. A page in the notes is divided into sections for notes, recall and cue words and a summary. A variation of the Cornell method is a two-column approach that eliminates the summary section that is part of the Cornell method. A traditional outlining method, including Roman numerals and topics, subtopics and key words, is another method of organization. Mapping information in a web is a way to organize concepts around central ideas. The sentence method is simply transcribing notes in sentence format as the lecture progress.

Translating and Analyzing

According to the Princeton University Libraries, translating should occur in the first twenty-four hours after class. In this process, you should fill in any missing words or information left out during your note taking. Another method of translating includes summarizing sections of notes and highlighting main topics and key words. Analyze your notes during the process of translating. Analyzing includes thinking about both the meaning of your notes and the importance in the scheme of the overall course objectives. This stage should help you create connections and determine any topics you might need for further clarification.


Remembering notes refers to the study time to commit lecture information to memory. One strategy for remembering notes is to recite them aloud. Repeating information aloud can assist in committing ideas to memory. Another method to remember lecture material is to develop personal connections with ideas. This may include personal stories, similar situations in society or connections with other coursework.

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