Inefficient Note-Taking to Become a Better Learner

During my life, I switched back and forth between taking notes by hand or typing them on a laptop. 

The case for taking notes on a laptop includes being able to take more notes and find them faster later.

But a note-taking study [1] suggests that if your goal is to be a better learner, you may want to ditch the laptop and go back to writing your notes by hand.

The cons of typing your notes is its efficiency. Because we can type faster than we can write, is tempting to skip on understanding the content and instead rely on transcribing everything word by word for later review. 

In the other hand, transcribing what someone is saying by hand is more difficult. So you're forced to process the content in a shorter format to keep up. You must be fully engaged in prioritizing and summarizing top concepts and ideas in your own words. In short, it's a more advance brain application.

Finally, typing your notes on a device with Internet access might even end up distracting you from paying attention and taking notes altogether.

So while typing your notes is more efficient, writing your notes on paper is much more effective to learn.


  1. Research: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard, Association for Psychological Science