Note Card Format

How to Make Note Cards

Keep these points in mind when taking notes on note cards:

  • Use only one idea per card
  • Give each card a specific topic heading or title
  • The card topic is the title for the kind of information on the card. The card topic is a name that you make up yourself. Think of it as the title, or main idea of the card. After writing down the information, figure out how you could briefly categorize, or title it. For example, if you are writing a paper on the life and works of the poet, Langston Hughes, you may have cards with topics such as:
    • Hughes’ upbringing
    • Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance
    • Hughes’ influences
    • Hughes’ poetry
    • Hughes’ political beliefs
    • Hughes’ influence on America
      Titles keep you focused in your research. You will be less likely to write down unnecessary information (facts that are not related to your topic) if you are careful to write down the topic for every card.  Also, the topics will aid you in writing your outline.
  • All information researched should relate to the topic or idea
  • Accuracy is crucial, especially with quotes and statistics
  • Place the source # at the top right hand corner, identifying the source’s informational card that provides the bibliographic information needed to create the Works Cited.
  • Identify direct quotes with quotation marks around the phrases or sentences extracted from the source word for word.
  • You should paraphrase information from your research on your cards whenever possible, especially when it is factual rather than analytical.
  • Include the page number(s) where the quote or information was located in the source, even when paraphrasing.  It is important to be accurate with the page numbers on your note cards, as you will need them for citations throughout your research paper.

Format for note-card:

Title of Card                                                                     Source #
(Specific topic or idea)————————————————————————————

Take notes from source here – be sure to identify direct quotes with appropriate quotation marks and include the page number(s)


The idea is to research all aspects of your topic thoroughly, taking organized notes on note cards. After you have gathered all your information, you will sort your cards by specific titles and arrange them into a logical format. This will help you in creating your outline to use in writing the research paper.

Format for source card:

Citation                                                                           Source # 

Source information in MLA format.


  1. You need a source card for every source you use.
  2. Write the information on the source card in MLA format, which you can later use to create your works cited page.
  3. Instead of writing a title in the upper left, simply write “Citation”

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