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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Valdosta chapter.

I’ve always loved colors, maybe it’s because I’m an artist at heart or my creative process, but colors always helped me learn things in ways I couldn’t before. One thing was for a certain,  colors specifically colored pens helped me get to the place I am today strangely enough, and I’m going to tell you how.

Journal in front of laptop
Photo by Nick Morrison from Unsplash

Personal experience

The first time I really actively and intelligently used colored pens was when I was in my junior year of high school. I took the dreaded AP United States history class which was known for its pages and pages of notes. I knew for myself to be able to decipher the notes that I was writing and effectively tell what subject was what. That I would have to differentiate in some way my actual notes, and that’s when I started to use colored pens. (It was also when I started to use pens in general, as many will quickly find writing with pencils can be quite painful especially after a few pages but that’s a story for another day.)

Colored Pens vs. Highlighters 

When most children are in their younger stages of life in about elementary school they are introduced to this idea or this concept of highlighters. Bright fluorescent colors of pink, blue, green,  orange, and yellow that children are to use on anything of importance. However, one of the largest pitfalls of highlighters is students rarely go back to their work to highlight what they thought was important. However, with colored pens, you’re working with those pens as you write, so there’s no need to go back to those notes to highlight them again something that you might forget as I said previously.


The science behind it

Younger children in their learning phases learn best with color They associate colors with shape and recognition, and it’s an important step for them especially in the area of cognitive learning. The big idea of this is that there’s object recognition, so if you’re taking a test for example, on a subject you’re not familiar with and not remembering that exact fact.  You can associate the color pen you used for that particular note, and it could help you recall that fact that you might not have been able to otherwise (if all your notes were in black: because there’s nothing to differentiate one from the next.)

According to Dr. Robert Gerard, ” every color has a specific wavelength, and each of these affects our body and brain in a different way.” There’s a reason that colors on every billboard sign: Color grabs our attention.  What many don’t realize is the fact that color in itself can directly impact that of your learning process as well. Almost in the same way listening to certain types of music when you work can. 

According to a study conducted by Olurinola and Tayo in 2015, “color can by some means increase one’s capacity to remember things, but then they also emphasize that the colors used should be put into consideration.” This is very important as throughout this article I’ve been talking about the importance of colored pens, but we also need to realize and make sure that we talk about the importance of the color: black, a black pen. While colors are great, they become useless if we overuse them for everything. I’m not advocating for you to switch from using a black pen for all your notes to using a red pen for all your notes. I’m telling you to strategically use certain pens for certain areas of notes to help you. Especially in the recall process, test-taking, and visual learning. For example, if I’m taking notes on the solar system and I’m talking about the terrestrial planets, which I know from taking notes are plants that are warmer and closer to the Earth. I would write those notes in red. While in contrast, while I’m taking notes on the Jovian planets; which are larger and farther from Earth, and colder. I would write those notes in blue, so now in my mind, I’m associating red with hot and blue with a cold for certain realms of planets helping my learning/ recall process.


Hello, my names Yetunde Oluwadare (pronounced Yeah-tune-day) I am 18 years old and a freshman at VSU. I love to paint, draw, and cook in my free time and I'm also a psychology major.
Her Campus at Valdosta State.