Typing or Writing Notes: Which Is Best Note-Taking Method

Typing or Writing Notes

Frequently, people ask if their notes should be written by hand or typed up on a computer. A general trend has shown that handwritten notes tend to remain in your memory longer than those typed. There are, however, situations in which typing notes is better than handwriting them, so the choice becomes more complex when choosing which method to use.

Therefore, this article discusses how note-taking methods affect the way you remember information, how some of those disadvantages can be counteracted, and how you might determine the note-taking method that is right for you.

Memory and taking notes

Researchers have found that taking notes by hand helps you retain information better than typing the notes on a computer. Numerous studies have examined this topic, ranging from those focusing on memory in general to those investigating note-taking in classroom settings. Some of these studies include:

In an experiment comparing word recall and recognition, handwritten lists of vocabulary words were better remembered than types written on a screen.

In a similar study, people who take notes on paper have better recall ability than people who type them.

People are more likely to type verbatim notes when taking notes during lectures than when hand-writing their notes, which pose a problem for taking notes. Users generally type whatever the speaker says using a laptop, implying that they are processing the material with little thought.

Handwriting the material usually involves more in-depth processing because people often give more thought to which parts of the presentation to include, rather than simply transcribing what is said verbatim.

Identifying this issue may help you take more accurate notes, as long as you can rephrase and summarize the material as you type, rather than simply transcribing it verbatim.

Tests have found that telling students to avoid taking verbatim notes when typing does not improve students’ note-taking abilities in most cases.

Whether you use a computer or not does not mean you cannot improve your ability to take notes, especially if you do so in the long run, but instead you should be cautious and ask yourself if you are learning more by taking notes on a computer.

Considerations for Taking Notes

Here are the factors to consider when taking notes.

Factual vs. conceptual learning

Choosing which note-taking method to use depends on how you will interact with the information you are learning.

For example, you may be required to complete conceptual learning, in which case you must gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles in the material, as opposed to factual learning, which is the involvement of memorizing specific details in the material.

Taking notes by hand is especially advantageous for conceptual learning because it necessitates a deeper understanding of the material than factual learning, which only requires a shallow understanding.

Therefore, it is better to write notes by hand rather than typing them on a computer if you’re taking notes for a subject that needs conceptual understanding. On the other hand, you should be less concerned with the benefits of writing notes by hand if your notes are related to a subject that requires a genuine understanding.

Distractions and access

In taking notes via a keyboard, you can use many tools as you are using an electronic device. This can either enhance or hinder your learning process.

If you have such tools available, it is helpful to look up information during lectures if the speaker is unclear or if you need supplementary information.

As a consequence of having more tools at your disposal, you are more likely to be distracted as well. The damaging effects of multitasking on your laptop while attending lectures have been studied, showing that they interfere with students’ learning.

If you’re experiencing issues working on your computer, you may find that you can alleviate them by taking steps such as blocking your access to sites or programs that are known to distract you, though it won’t function every time.

Despite this, it is essential to remember that writing notes by hand isn’t safe from distractions. It is possible, for instance, to encounter similar problems when taking handwritten notes as with typing them on a computer if you usually check your phone while you’re not on your computer.

Ideally, you should be self-aware and reflective when choosing the note-taking tool that will help to maximize your concentration. Regardless of which platform you choose, you should make sure to minimize external distractions to the maximum extent possible, particularly if those distractions impede your learning process.

Text length and type

Because individuals can type quicker than they can write, note-taking by hand can enhance your conciseness. This may be advantageous since it allows you to focus your notes on the essential parts of the content. However, brevity may become a problem if you are compelled to be so short that you overlook less important but essential things.

Typing notes enables you to jot down more information than writing notes by hand. Still, the disadvantages of too much writing are that you may wind up preoccupied with unnecessary details, making it challenging to learn from the notes afterwards.

As a result, you must determine if being short and concise is more beneficial than addressing all of the information given during the lecture. As discussed earlier, this depends on your familiarity with the content.

Also, take in mind the following:

It may be quicker to handwrite on certain subjects if they entail the use of numerous formulas.

You may usually improve your writing speed by making a few minor adjustments if required.

Preferences and research methods

Notetaking by hand can be challenging at times because it may be too slow, r unfamiliar with the material to think about it well during a lecture. If you are unable to handwrite these notes, you may prefer typing them instead.

It can also be beneficial to type notes more comprehensively if you study after the lecture, whether a few days later as you do your homework or months later right before an exam, even though it will mean not processing the information.

The Advantages of Digital Notes

While there may not be any direct benefits to typing notes on a computer instead of writing them by hand, there are a few advantages you should consider if you write your notes by typing.

  1. It’s much simpler to revise and correct notes on a computer.
  2. It’s simpler to search via digital notes.
  3. Digital notes are more dependable, mainly if you provide proper support.
  4. It’s much simpler to exchange digital notes.

Figuring out What Works for You

As with any similar decision, there are several variables to consider before deciding which note-taking method is suitable for you; it can’t be said that one method is better than the others.

Additionally, various note-taking techniques may be more effective in different situations, depending on the nature of the information you need to learn and how you plan to use your notes afterwards.

As a result, while choosing how to take notes, you should experiment with several methods to see which one works best for you. However, the following recommendations may assist you in determining which note-taking technique is best in whatever situation:

When you want to thoroughly digest the information while you’re writing it down, taking notes by hand is the ideal option. It’s beneficial when you need to acquire a conceptual grasp of the content, when you need to concentrate on the essential parts of the information, and when the material you need to write down isn’t easily typed on a computer.

When you write by hand, you usually have to take more time, which can be problematic if you can’t write quickly enough to keep up with the speaker or if you end up omitting important details.

Taking notes by hand isn’t convenient or fast enough if there is a great deal of information you need to take down. If you transcribing everything verbatim, you probably will not be able to process the material much as you type it, so you have to re-evaluate it after you have finished taking notes. Depending on your overall method of study, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Other advantages digital notes have are that they can be edited and fixed quickly, that they can be searched through easily, and that they are more reliable for backup purposes. If you’re not careful, however, working on a digital device could potentially lead to distractions, which would mean a negative impact on your learning processes.

The Benefits of Handwriting vs. Typing

We type on keyboards more often than we write by hand on our cellphones and computers. From business emails to personal to-do lists, typing has become our preferred form of communication. While typing is more convenient and quicker, research indicates that handwriting has its own set of benefits.

If you’re a frequent typist, do yourself a favor and consider these significant advantages of handwriting over typing. Take out a pad of paper and a pen to jot down some notes by hand!

  • Memory Recall That Works

Handwriting your notes has numerous advantages, even though it takes a bit longer. Because longhand notes include your own words and handwriting, they improve short- and long-term memory recall. By replicating the environment and substance of the original lecture or meeting, they may act as powerful memory triggers.

When you write anything down, you’re creating spatial relationships between the bits of data you’re storing. Handwriting helps you retain and organize information by activating areas of your brain involved in thinking and working memory. The movement of the pen and your hand may aid in the long-term encoding and retention of information.

  • Enhanced Critical Thinking Skills

When comparing handwriting to typing, writing by hand exposes you to more critical thinking than typing. You can think more deeply about the information you’re capturing if you write it down. It helps you to think more deeply about your ideas and make connections between them. This may be improved by utilizing various colored ink pens as a color-coding system to organize ideas and make additional connections.

Strong writers can see connections between abstract concepts and come up with novel answers to complex issues. It may be more difficult to extract meaning from writing and understand the context of words and phrases if you do not write regularly.

  • Improved Conceptual Comprehension

When you write your notes by hand rather than typing, you acquire a better mental grasp. It’s more challenging to take notes verbatim since handwriting is slower and more laborious. As a result, you’ll need to analyze the data and summarize it in a manner that makes sense to you.

This exemplifies another advantage of handwritten over typing. Handwriting encourages your brain to connect with the material cognitively, which improves literacy and reading comprehension. On the other hand, Typing encourages people to take notes verbatim without giving the material any consideration. Although you may write more words faster, this thoughtless transcribing may lead to a lack of meaningful comprehension and application of the knowledge.

Share this Post