To type or not to type?: The case for typing your notes

I was once one of the people who believed that the benefits of handwriting your notes outweigh the convenience of typing notes. I would argue that it was easier to leave my laptop at home and write the notes the good, old-fashioned way because it can be a more effective way of memorizing the lessons. However, the more I thought about the situation, the more I realized that this is simply not the case for many reasons. While typing notes has its pros and cons, I personally believe that typing is much more effective.


Image via Fabian Irsara / Unsplash

Why is typing notes better than writing by hand?

    The first reason why typing notes is more effective than writing notes by hand is the most obvious: it’s much faster. You will not only be able to get more notes done without worrying about missing an important part of the lesson, but you will also be able to look back at the notes and understand what you have written. Also, even if your professor doesn’t speak too fast for you to keep up with them, taking less time to type will give you more time to comprehend the lecture. This extra time will allow you to formulate questions, think critically about the material, and just develop a better understanding of the lesson, overall.

As a student, I know that everyone has been in a class where the educator speaks so fast that when you try to take notes, they are barely, if at all, legible. That being said, when you type your notes, you will not have to worry about not being able to read your notes because your notes will legible. That way, if you still don’t understand what you have written, you will be able to directly refer to the phrases you have typed without dealing with the embarrassment of admitting that you aren't able to read your own handwriting.

    In addition to legibility, the process of typing notes is generally much more organized than handwriting them. All of your notes will be in the same place, so instead of buying multiple notebooks, you can simply create one document per class to write all of your notes in. You won’t even have to worry about running out of pages in your notebooks! It is much easier to find specific things you are looking for when you are reviewing your notes. As opposed to skimming through the pages in your notebook, looking for a specific term, when your notes are typed, you can make the “Search tool” look for the term for you. It is not only less time consuming but also saves you the frustration of flipping back and forth in your notebook.

    Finally, a major advantage of typing notes is that you will not use nearly as much paper as you would if you handwrite your notes. Typing your notes can help conserve the environment by decreasing the demand for loose leaf paper and notebooks, which is always a good thing. Overall, not only can typing notes help you take quick, organized notes, but you can also save mother nature in the process. It’s a win-win situation!


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What are the disadvantages of typing notes? (And how can I overcome them?)

    As aforementioned, one disadvantage of typing notes is that most people cannot absorb information unless they physically write the notes; however, you can type your notes in class and write them at home if that makes it easier for you to do well in class. Personally, when I study, I used index cards, which play a critical role in my memorization of what I learn in class. Therefore, if you type your notes, physically writing out index cards for the concepts, vocabulary words, theories, formulas, etc. can aid as a substitute for writing the notes in class.

    Additionally, depending on the computer, at times it can be inconvenient to lug your laptop around campus from class to class every day. You have to make sure your laptop is fully charged and in good condition so that it doesn’t break down while you are taking notes in class. One way to overcome this is to keep a spare notebook and a pen in your backpack at all times. That way if your laptop malfunctions for some reason, you will have a backup. Another important thing to keep in your backpack is your laptop charger, so if you forget to charge it, you can simply plug your charger into an outlet in the classroom and use it while it charges.

    Another key difficulty that students may face is that laptops can be expensive. Not every family has hundreds of dollars to drop on a laptop, which is understandable; however, there are some ways to help make laptops more affordable/ accessible for students. The first major one is going to stores that allow you to use a student discount. Many stores offer good discounts to college students, which can help make the laptop a little more affordable. To add on,  another way to get a cheap laptop is to wait until Black Friday or other holidays come along to get good sales on good laptops.


Final Verdict

All in all, although I believe the process of typing notes to be much more convenient, different study methods work for different people! While I find that typing notes is easier in terms of organization, time, ability to search for terms, etc., one may find that they simply cannot remember the information when they type their notes, which is okay! Needless to say, while I believe that everyone should at least try to type their notes, everyone should do what works for them, regardless of what methods other people may advocate for.


About The Author

Brianna is a first year student at Agnes Scott College. She intends on majoring in International Relations. She lived in Yonkers, New York for her entire life until she graduated from Yonkers High School in 2017 and made the decision to move to Decatur, Georgia. Her hobbies include drawing, playing tennis, going on walks, and venturing out into new places.