Why You Should Be Taking Notes by Hand

Posted by Olivia on Jul 16th 2021

Taking notes on laptops has become increasingly common both in the workplace and in the classroom.

With today’s technology, you would think that pen and paper are a thing of the past. If you regularly use a laptop or tablet to take notes, you might even ask yourself why someone would prefer using a physical notebook instead.

Countless studies, including this one by professors at UCLA and Princeton, have shown that taking notes by hand actually results in better comprehension and supports the brain’s capacity for retrieval of information.

If you’re still not convinced to swap your laptop for a notebook, keep reading as we dive into why you should be taking notes by hand.

Why You Should Be Taking Notes by Hand

It’s more efficient

When you are taking notes by hand, it is nearly impossible to write down every single word you hear. Because of this, your notes will likely be more “generative” as your brain condenses information into useful forms like summarizing or paraphrasing.

This note-taking technique is more creative than taking notes on a laptop and encourages your brain to engage more with the information you are listening to.

It increases retention

Not only is note-taking more efficient, but it increases your memory retention. Studies show that physically writing something down using a pen and paper allows your brain to process that information.

Sure, it might be easy to just type everything out verbatim on your computer, but this type of note-taking is associated with shallow-cognitive processing. This means that the information you type out is processed on its superficial and perceptual features, as opposed to its meaning. Ultimately, typing notes on a laptop produces a shorter-lasting memory.

It forces you to focus more

A spiral-bound stack of paper has more advantages than just increasing retention and efficiency. It actually forces you to stay focused on the meeting, presentation, lecture, or whatever it is you are listening to.

A notebook does not let you open up Instagram when you get bored, but rather prevents you from zoning out.

It gives you the ability to sketch and draw

Note-taking is not just about writing things down. Handwriting notes gives you the unique opportunity to draw or sketch out information so that you can process it more easily later.

When you are using a laptop, you are limited in your ability to quickly draw up a chart or image. While it is not impossible, it certainly takes more time than if you were to sketch it out on a page of your notebook.

Manipulating and transcribing information into a chart or map can lead to a deeper understanding of the topic as well.

Final Thoughts: Why You Should Be Taking Notes by Hand

So what does old-school-note-taking have that laptops lack?

The answer is quite simple: Quality over quantity.

Taking notes on a laptop may result in recording more words than taking notes by hand. However, the combination of a pen and paper produces a powerful tool that requires the note-taker to slow down and absorb the information more effectively.

As a result, those who take notes by hand are more likely to draw conclusions on their own and leave with a deeper understanding of the presentation, lecture, or meeting.

Note-taking is not about how many words you capture, but how much you learn through the process of taking notes.

Ready to begin your productivity journey? Check out our collection of notebooks!

Portage Notebooks is located in Northeast Ohio and has been creating professional notebooks for media, law enforcement, and businesses for over fifty years. Our notebooks are made using the highest quality materials.

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