Today with the ever-increasing use of technology such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops people are writing a lot less than ever before. But is it better to handwrite notes or type them on a laptop?
An increasing number of school’s colleges and universities are allowing students to have a laptop in the classroom or during lectures to take notes with.
However, research suggests that this may not be the best way to learn with one school even going as far as to ban laptops in the classroom. In this guide, we will show you the pros and cons of note-taking by hand compared to using technology such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Table of Contents
- 1 Benefits of Handwriting Notes
- 2. Benefits of Typing Notes
1. Benefits of Handwriting Notes
Handwriting notes have several advantages over typing them, these include they are better for learning with and helping you to focus and think more clearly. When you handwrite it can improve creativity and it is quick and easy to add drawings and sketches. On top of that, you are not tempted to flick over to Google, or YouTube. Finally if sending a thank you note people appreciate a handwritten note far more than a typed one.
1.1. It is Better for Learning Than Typing
Scientific studies have shown that writing by hand is better for learning than typing. The following is an extract from a study published in Psychological Science by two distinguished professors.
The upshot is that when writing by hand you are considering what you are writing and processing it more accurately. This improves your memory allowing you to retain information with a greater understanding and comprehension compared to taking notes on a laptop or tablet.
1.2. Helps You Focus and Think More Clearly
When you write notes by hand you think more about what you are writing than if you are typing. This is because your brain is more engaged in forming the letters and controlling your hand movements.
It is a great way to solve problems that are often underused. Try writing down what you are thinking as opposed to thinking about what you are going to write. Seeing it written down will help to visualize the solutions to your problem.
1.3. It Improves Creativity
There is some scientific research to suggest that writing by hand unlocks more creative areas of the brain compared to typing. This connection with the pen and paper allows the thoughts to flow more easily and naturally than staring at a blank screen of a monitor.
Therefore, many of the top authors still prefer to handwrite their drafts. JK Rowling is famous for writing the Harry Potter Books in a Café when she first started out. She has recently revealed that she plans a lot and still writes everything down before eventually typing it up.
The famous movie director Quinten Tarantino revealed in an interview with Reuters that he writes all his scripts longhand in red and black ink.
1.4. You Can Do it Anywhere
With a pen and a note pad you can take notes anywhere, it is quiet, quick, and easy to do and put away when you have finished. No worrying about having to charge it up first, where the nearest power supply is, or much battery life is left.
1.5. Easier to do Drawing and Sketching
You can quickly and easily draw diagrams, doodle, or sketch artwork in a notebook to compliment your notes. This is not very easy on a laptop although it is becoming easier on some tablets that use “smart-pens”
1.6. You’re not Distracted by Other Features of Your Device
There are no other distractions when using a pen and paper to handwrite notes, this allows you to focus clearly on the task in hand. When typing on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone there are many potential distractions from browsing online, to checking out social media or a quick blast on your favorite game.
When you are sending a thank-you note the recipient subconsciously appreciates the time and effort that you have put into a handwritten note. A typed note can feel cold whereas a handwritten note has a warm and personalized feel.
2. Benefits of Typing Notes
Handwriting notes may have several advantages over typing them when it comes to learning and memory retention but typing notes do have its own benefits. To start with its fast a proficient touch typer can type nearly twice as fast as someone using a pen and paper. Editing is quicker and easier and you can index and safely store typed notes. Sharing your notes with others is a doddle and you can easily add a photo.
2.1. Its Faster Than Handwriting
If you have taken the time to learn touch typing it doesn’t take as long as you think, (I learned touch typing in 14 days). Then typing is far quicker than writing by hand.
Even if you are using one of the fastest pens to write with you are still looking at around 20 words a minute compared to around 35 – 40 with touch typing.
2.2. Editing is Quicker and Easier
Editing is as simple as hitting the delete or backspace key so you can quickly make multiple revisions. When writing notes if you make a mistake then you will need to cross it out unless you are using an erasable pen. Also if someone else is going to see your notes Microsoft Word has a built-in spell checker which is quite handy.
If you are considering buying an erasable pen make sure that you have taken a look at our Complete Guide to Erasable Pens first.
2.3. Indexing and Storage
The great thing about typing notes on a computer is that you can store all your notes in an organized manner and use the search function to quickly retrieve any information you may need. With free cloud-based backups such as Google Drive, you will never lose your notes.
If you save them to an encrypted USB drive you also have added security benefits as well as portable storage. Your notes will be safe from nosey parkers with prying eyes.
With handwritten notes, you only have one copy. If the family pet decides they are ideal for having a little munch on, or they are inadvertently suffering some other unfortunate mishap. Then they are gone for good.
You may like to see our article No good way to convert handwritten notes into text for the difficulties in making backups of handwritten notes.
2.4. Easy to Share with Others
If you need to share your notes with someone else typed notes win hands down. With a couple of clicks of the mouse or taps on the touchscreen, you can share your notes, with teachers, colleagues’ friends, or anyone else you wish to wherever they are in the world in a matter of seconds.
2.5. Quickly Add Photos
Apart from writing on this blog I also work as a service engineer. Being old school, I always used to carry a notebook and take notes of anything that was not well documented in the service manual.
However, one day when working with a young engineer not long out of his apprenticeship I noticed that he was taking notes on his iPhone and taking photos and inserting them as he went along.
A picture tells a thousand words and even though I still carry the trusty old notebook these days I usually take notes on my phone and insert photos. Sometimes even old dogs must learn new tricks.
2.6. Easier for Dyslexics to Read
Typed text is easier for people with dyslexia to read than handwritten text. It is better to use a sans serif font such as Ariel which does not have the fancy tails or feet of serif fonts. There are now also special developed fonts such as the Read Regular font which is owned by the Publishing House Zwijse.
It has been designed to make it easier for people suffering from dyslexia to distinguish letters, reducing the effort required, and increasing reading speed.
They have renamed it the Dyslexie font and can be purchased from dyslexiefont.com