Writing or Typing Notes: What’s Better?

When you first arrive at college, there is the question that lingers of whether to type or handwrite your notes.

There still hasn’t been any scientific conclusion that proves one can significantly help you retrain information better. I have used both methods to see what worked better. But I’ve realized why there has been no conclusion as to which works better.

It all depends on the person. Some may be able to retain information better by physically writing the notes down on paper. Others feel more comfortable by taking their laptop to every class so they can write everything down.

Personally, I have found out that the most effective way of taking notes is typing them all out. I will print them out when I need to study, so I will always have a hard copy but I will take the notes I typed and re-write them on paper. It’s very annoying, but I have found out that it’s successful for me, as well as a lot of my friends.

But whether a person likes to write or type their notes, there are still pros and cons to both techniques.

Typing Notes

Pros

  • Type fast: Sometimes professors talk really fast, or go through slideshows quick. By typing your notes, it is easier to keep up with all the material and not leave any vital information out.
  • Safe: Typed up notes won’t get damaged or lost. They will always be saved on your laptop.  Also, if you go somewhere to study for one class and decided to continue for another class, if your laptop is with you all of your notes will be in one device. You won’t have to worry about going back to get the rest of your notebooks.
  • Neat/ Organized: Handwriting can be messy, especially if you are trying to keep up the fast pace of a professor. Having your notes typed out will be assuring a very neat and clean page. Not only will it be clean, but also you can easily divide your notes in the sections applying to every topic. You can bold it, have titles with bigger font, as well as color coordinating everything to make it what will be easiest for you.
  • Going Back: Sometimes professors need to go back to a lecture and add in a few details. Instead of writing down the extra information and directing messy arrows to the previous notes, you can easily add them in to the exact location they should be. It will seem like they were meant to be there and they were never forgotten in the first place.

Cons

  • Absent Minded: Being the generation of technology, we type a lot every single day. Sometimes, we type so much that we really don’t pay attention to what we are actually typing. This can be dangerous because the reason for taking these notes is to remember what the professor is saying. Sometimes professor have very detailed slideshows. When this happens, students tend to not pay attention to the even more important information the professor is saying and will type the slideshow word-for-word.
  • Distraction: Bring a laptop to take notes is one thing. However, it is very easy to connect to Wi-Fi. Instead of typing notes like a good student, it can be very easy to not pay attention in class and go on Facebook or maybe even do homework for another class. Whatever the case may be, it still means you are not paying attention in class.

Writing Notes

Pros

  • Adapting the Material: Exams aren’t on a computer. We write everything out. By writing your notes, this already gives you a feel and some preparations of how exams will be like.
  • Help focus: when you are writing down your notes, you want to only get the most important details so you don’t have to write as much. This allows you to keep and open ear and really pay attention to what is being said. You won’t be distracted by anything else, you can have full attention on the professor.
  • Graphics: Computer graphics might seem to be useful, however, they take a lot of time. If a professor has graphics such as any graph or a web, it’ll be a lot easier to physically draw them out on paper. Doing them on a laptop requires trying to find the right shape and then all these questions will be asked and it still won’t turn out how you want it. By drawing them out, you will get exactly what the professor wants you to understand.

Cons

  • Hurts hand: excessive writing really stiffens your fingers and can actually last a very long time. The combination of writing for a long time and trying to write as fast as possible to get all the information, sets yourself up for your fingers to crunch up and swell.
  • Damaged/Lost: paper can easily be lost of damaged. It’s very easy for pages to be torn out in a notebook and never be found again. The pages that do stay around will never be in the same condition. The use of that notebook for your class will go through natural wear and tear. The ink on the paper will fade, the pages will rip or crinkle, and sometimes the worst will happen by having something spill on it or even lose the notebook entirely.

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Gina Stolzman

Gina Stolzman

Gina Stolzman is a senior at University of Iowa pursuing degrees in Journalism and English. Having a passion for food, she loves cooking and visiting restaurants. Besides cooking, you’ll find her reading, catching up on TV shows, or hanging out with friends and family. She is an enthusiastic Chicago fan. She devotes herself to “da” Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox.