Why I take my notes the old-fashioned way, on paper

The benefits of taking notes electronically seem intuitive. They have improved legibility. They are easier to search. Best of all, thousands of pages worth of paper notes take up just megabytes on a hard drive, saving precious space and weight in one's backpack. Speaking of paper, they save trees: in fact, at a school that emphasizes environmentalism, writing on paper even seems like a faux pas.

However, there are at least two important reasons why I still prefer handwriting my notes. The first reason is that besides the random doodles that inevitably appear on my margins, paper offers so much less temptation than a laptop or tablet. I can't find myself sneaking to check Facebook or email, or making splurge purchases on Amazon.

Even if you have the self-discipline to resist Facebook-ing during class, there might be a retentive benefit to handwriting your notes rather than typing them. One of my psychology professors mentioned that since people can type fast enough to record lectures word-for-word, they can go onto auto-pilot, merely transcribing the lesson. However, when using the slower method of handwriting, the student is forced to condense the information into something they can both understand and write quickly enough: this requires brain processing power, which makes the information stick better. (Admittedly, on tablets, you might be able to handwrite your notes.)

Leave a Reply