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  • Sophie Xie

Taking Notes by Hand Vs. Typing

Taking notes has been ingrained into the daily routine of school students of all ages. You sit down at your desk, and your teacher reminds you to pull out a pen and something to write on or your laptop. Sometimes, you leave class with a sore hand and pages filled with information you jotted down, while other days, you just get annoyed that nothing struck you as necessary to note.  Regardless of how you feel after a class of intense note-taking, it is without a doubt a crucial part of school. 

There are the two main types of note-taking, handwritten and typed, each with unique pros and cons. Generally, a student’s very first notes are handwritten – scribbling down notes with their pencil – and an overwhelming majority (65%) have stuck with this method. After their handwriting becomes more legible, students start using pens and highlighters to record key points from class discussion, organizing them to mark key points and create an appealing aesthetic. Many will stop at this, but there are always those few who go the extra step, adding titles in calligraphy and/or having a separate color scheme for each unit. Notes can range from hastily scrawled bullets to elaborate works of art.

There have been numerous studies conducted on whether or not taking notes by hand is beneficial for retaining information, and they generally lead to the same conclusion: it helps the average person remember information better, especially if they write it down multiple times. Handwritten notes naturally stick in our brains. Seeing your hand write the letters, hearing your pen or pencil scratch against the paper creates hooks for your brain on which to leave snippets of memory. Yet there will always be the typers who may value speed and efficiency over aesthetics or memorization. Typing may simply come easier to such people. 

Indeed, typed notes can be taken much faster than written notes, and Edgemont in particular will make sure students learn to type in elementary school. It takes less effort from our hands, is less wasteful, and is always legible. On a computer, these notes will never be lost and will not contribute to scoliosis. To take digitized notes, all one needs is a device and your hands (to type, of course). Compared to taking notes on paper, it is a breeze – no highlighters, no pens, no pencils, and best of all, no notebooks weighing backpacks down. But there is one major potential flaw: typed notes may not help you learn concepts and information as much as hand-written ones do.  

Many times someone ends up typing whatever the teacher says with little to no thought beyond that. For most students, typing becomes an instinctive reaction as they learn, and this means they probably will not think too much about what is really getting written down. When they then glance at their computer screen after class, it usually is just a jumble of words and sentences, underlined with errors that Google picked up as they furiously punched the keys. 

Sometimes, the sheer amount of information on a Google Doc will be overwhelming, so many times people will just give up before they even start. Even though typing can help in the short term, is it really worth it when you sit down for your handwritten test on every Louis in France, and your mind goes blank?

Personally, I prefer handwritten notes. They look nicer, help you actually process what’s being written down, and let you look back to see your progress as a student. They offer one the artistic opportunity to dive into the world of stationery, highlighters, whiteout, and millions of pens. While the process of handwriting notes can be time-consuming at first, once someone masters the art of speed writing neatly, they are all set to go. I think they also help me concentrate, preventing me from focusing on anything besides what I hear in class. And best of all, you might not even have to look back on them before a test — they’ll be stuck in your mind!


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