Life @ U of T

Introduction

Note taking: Handwritten vs Typed Notes

Note taking: Handwritten vs Typed Notes

There’s nothing I love more than having aesthetic notes… or so I thought.

For as long as I have been a student, I’ve always written my notes by hand; this didn’t change when I entered my first year at U of T. Everyday, I came home and summarized the lecture notes in my notebook. I made my notes look as nice as possible; I drew diagrams, highlighted key points, and used as many colours as possible.

Handwritten notes on a notebook, pens, and a book labelled "Adaptation & Biodiversity" on a table
Handwritten notes for my biology class

After a while, I discovered that I was spending way too much time on making my notes (when I should actually be studying the content!). I knew I had to adjust my method of note taking, so I switched to typing my notes. Here are my thoughts on handwritten notes versus typed notes.

Typing notes is easier and saves a lot of time

This of course, was my main incentive to switch from handwritten notes to typed notes, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I did in fact, spend less time on making my notes. I didn’t have to spend time trying to make every letter perfect or wait for the whiteout to dry (it never does). I didn’t have to spend time trying to come up with a creative way to make my writing mistake seem like it was intentional (again, it never does).

I also found that typing notes was much easier than writing, especially when it came to diagrams! It was much more convenient to save an online picture from the textbook and include it into my notes, compared to spending half an hour trying to draw a something that *somewhat* resembles a plant cell.

typed notes for my biology class

Handwritten notes are more effective

The ease of being able to copy and paste lecture/textbook notes into my own notes caused me to do just that; I found that my study notes were essentially a replica of the textbook, which was not useful to study from.

Since handwritten notes take longer, I tend to summarize readings more effectively to avoid writing too much. During this process of summarizing the textbook into my own words, I was more likely to recall that information during the test.

Handwritten notes and some pens
my study notes for biology

 

The best method… a combination of both!

After trying both typed and handwritten notes, I discovered that I like to use both methods of note taking. Currently, I type my lecture and textbook notes, then I hand write cue cards. This practice has been working really well for me since I’m able to save time by typing my notes, while still effectively remembering key information through handwriting cue cards.

Cue cards on top of some notes. A Starbucks cup in the corner.
my cue cards and some quick study notes

No matter which way you decide to take notes, I hope you’re able to find what way works best for you!

2 comments on “Note taking: Handwritten vs Typed Notes

  1. Honestly I’ve been using both and I agree with you 100 percent! At first I thought typing and writing would be a waste of time but I looked at my grades and my perspective completely changed and I realized that I had a good system going! Thanks for sharing!

    – Han

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