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How to Take Notes: Writing Longhand VS Typing

No longer are the days of note-taking being strictly limited to pen to paper! As digital communication has become key to our day to day lives, the idea of note taking by hand versus typing on a computer is considered outdated by many. But, is digital note taking as effective as hand writing? In this blog, we discuss why it's important to take notes, which option is most effective, and our top tips to help you get started.

Why is it important to take notes?

Not only does note-taking help you concentrate while studying, but it's an excellent way to go over a condensed version of what you are learning when you want to refresh your memory. Whether you want to prepare for an upcoming exam, interview or you just want to jot down a recipe - taking notes is the way forward!

How to take notes

Writing longhand VS typing

Let's be honest, if you ask a group of people whether they prefer hand writing or typing up notes - the vast majority would go with the latter. It's quick, doesn't require too much effort and you can write more notes in a shorter space of time. However, while your computer may be more convenient for writing up notes, research has shown taking notes by hand allows you to process information better than typing up notes on a keyboard.

But how?

Although writing notes longhand is more time consuming, this has proven to force students to be more selective with the information they are writing down. Therefore, giving them more time to process the information. Think about it - paraphrasing, organising and summarising content when writing by hand, requires a lot more brain work than transcribing information digitally. This explains why many academia today include longhand note taking in its curriculum, rather than digital note-taking.

Many describe note-taking on a keyboard as "non-generative”. In other words, typing notes on a keyboard is done in such way that does not involve deep processing of the information. So, although some may argue that taking more notes can be beneficial, researchers have suggested that transcribing information verbatim rather than processing the information and reframing it in your own words, is actually detrimental to your learning.

So there you go - although typing on a keyboard is more convenient, are you really taking the information in? Here at British Study Centres, we highly encourage note-taking the old school way!

How to take notes

Our tips for note-taking on paper

Are you struggling to keep motivated while note-taking? Don't worry, our tips will help you get started and you'll be producing quality notes in no time.

Read before writing

You may have the tendency to immediately start taking notes without giving the content a once-over first - this is not the way to go! It's important to understand what exactly you are learning before jumping right in. Take your time to digest what you are studying before writing down your notes. This will improve the quality of the notes you are taking.

Don't write down everything

It's tempting to write down anything and everything there is in sight - but you shouldn't! Not only will it take you a long time to do this, but recapping your jam-packed notes will overwhelm you later. Instead, try condensing the information by summarising the key points of what you are learning. This will ensure your notes clear and concise, making it easier to digest the information later.

Use colours and highlight your notes

Let's face it - a sheet of black and white paper is dull and unmemorable. Why not use coloured pens and highlighters to jazz your notes up? This way, you can highlight the important parts of information to revise later. Plus, your page will look way more appealing to look at. It's a win-win!

How to take notes

Avoid distractions

Your friends are messaging you, you can't stop scrolling on social media, and your favourite show is on Netflix! There are so many distractions that can prevent you from producing high quality content. This is why you should ensure you are in the right environment to be concentrating on your work. Turn your phone on airplane mode, keep focused, and reward yourself with some down-time afterwards. Build a routine to make maximum progress when studying.

Keep organised

There's nothing worse than being in the middle of revision and finding a page is missing. This is why you should stay organised and make sure your notes are all in one place. Whether it be in a notebook or folder - know where to find everything when you want to revisit your notes.


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