Whether you’re still in school or a card-carrying member of the real world, chances are you find yourself taking notes from time to time. When the time comes, it’s better to pick up a pencil than to open your laptop, and here are ten reasons why:
10 Reasons Taking Notes by Hand is Better
1. Studies have shown that knowledge acquisition is facilitated by writing things out by hand.
2. Studies have also shown that handwriting assists memory. This is especially true for kinesthetic learners, who learn best when they’re using their hands. You’re also more likely to remember writing something down than you are to remember typing it because you were focusing on forming the letters with your hand, and going slower than if you were typing.
3. Doodling! Visual learners can combine words and images to help them remember concepts. In high school, I would often sketch stick figure drawings in the margins of my notes to help me keep all of the lectures straight and find the section I was looking for quickly. It also came in handy on the exams when a name or phrase would trigger the memory of one of my little drawings, and its accompanying explanation. Nowadays, this type of note taking has been dubbed “sketchnoting,” and there’s even a guide that teaches you how to take proper sketchnotes. To this day, “Lycidas” calls to mind an image of a stick figure using a safety pin to pop a floating sheep (just read the poem… then you’ll understand).
4. Color coding – sure it’s possible on a computer, but what if one statement falls under two categories? With colored pencils, it’s easy to underline something inorange and green, or circle it in purple and pink and yellow stars for extra emphasis.
5. You have freedom to write all over the page, however you want. Adding a side note in the margin or writing at an angle is a lot easier when you’re writing by hand.
6. That pesky auto-correct problem isn’t an issue when hand-writing notes. Abbreviate and use your own shorthand without fear that your spell check is going to change it when you’re not looking.
7. Accidentally deleting ten pages of notes isn’t a concern when you have a hard copy. You also have access to those notes no matter what – even if your computer runs out of battery halfway through a lecture or your hard drive crashes the day before that huge presentation at work, your hand-written notes will be there for you.
8. Not all lectures are equally captivating. If you start to drift off, relevant doodles, or extra challenges like taking notes with your non-dominant hand, can help keep you focused. Laptops and tablets – especially ones with Solitaire – have a tendency to distract you if you’re already bored.
9. Pencils and paper are quick and easy to access. If you’re late to a meeting, or at the end of class as you’re packing up your things and your professor has one more thing to add, you’re likely to miss out if you’ve already powered down your laptop (especially if you’re a broke student with a dinosaur that takes days to boot back up).
10. Even if you’re not looking forward to a particular class or a long meeting that stands between you and your lunch break, you can always look forward to using your fun note-taking supplies. A word processing program just can’t compete with your 49ers notebook and scented pencils when it comes to hand-written excitement.
Tomorrow, I’ll be using my favorite pencil to take notes in class. Will you?
Photo by Jacob BÃ¸tter.