Many students can’t bear to head to class without their laptop in tow. Laptops have come so far – they’re fast and light, allow you to multitask (all lecture-related activities, of course), and your notes stay neat and organized. Not like your chicken-scratch writing that stops halfway through the lecture because your pen ran out of ink.
Hold on a second – there’s a lot to be said for taking notes by hand. You’ve heard before that it’s better for studying and digesting content. Let’s examine the differences between handwriting vs. typing.
Writing by Hand
- Less distractions. There are no other open windows, no messaging icon bouncing to get your attention. You’re not tempted to open up games or Facebook or even that next class’s assignment that’s due in 20 minutes. You’re free to just focus on the lecture.
- It takes thought. I don’t know about you, but my typing is way faster than my writing, and it’s almost mindless. A sentence runs through my head, and suddenly it’s on the screen. It’s not the same with writing by hand – you’re physically carving every letter into your paper, and that makes it stick (at least more so than typing it).
- There’s no fluff. Since writing by hand is considerably slower than typing, you don’t have time to scribble out every word that escapes your fast-talking professor’s mouth. Yes, this is a good thing. You’re removing all the fluff and marking down the main points – which results in more brain activity since you need to understand the concepts before you can summarize them.
Typing with a Laptop
- It’s faster and easier. Writing by hand can be stressful, and if you’re focused, typing out your notes can be much more relaxing. Your hands don’t usually cramp as fast and there’s less of a chance of you missing out on an important point. And if you did miss something, you can just slot it in later.
- It’s organized. You don’t need to worry about figuring out what in the world that scribble was supposed to say, your bullet points are aligned, and everything is broken out into neat sections with a bold headline – maybe you’ve even thrown a table in there. It’s a beautiful thing! Even better is using the “Find” function when studying so you don’t have to waste time searching for that one time you used that one word in that one sentence.
- Multitasking – if you’re disciplined. Stay signed out of any kind of social media – messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Close your internet browser and only keep open the Word document you’re using to take notes. If your professor asks for an example, that’s the time to Google an answer to show you’re keen and paying attention! Multitasking should only be lecture-related, to enhance your understanding of the topics.
Every student has their own preference and study habits. Maybe you prefer to ingest as much information as possible right from the start with handwriting and really pulling out the core concepts from the lecture. Or maybe you prefer to type out as much as you can mindlessly and go back later to analyze the content and type out summaries when studying. My advice: test out both methods and see which works better for you!