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Is it best to make notes on the computer or by hand?

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to how they write their notes,

but is one way better than the other? Let’s unpack the computer vs. paper


A study conducted by Princeton University concluded that when students take

notes on their computer, they could take down more of what the teacher is

saying compared to students who took notes by hand. However the study also

concluded that students who took notes by hand were forced to be more

selective in what they wrote, as they couldn’t write at the same speed the teacher

was speaking.

This selectivity while taking notes actually allowed students to better

understand the course material, and therefore the study concluded that taking

notes by hand was more beneficial than taking notes on a computer.

But what if you are a firm believer that taking notes on the computer is the BEST

way for you?

Even though the study concluded that taking notes by hand allows students to

retain more information, it doesn’t mean that this is the BEST way. We all have

different preferences and each subject requires different types of notes!

So what is our recommendation when it comes to note taking? Take one of two


1. Hand write your notes the old fashioned way to better retain information

2. Type your notes to ensure you take down all of the information, and then

hand write your notes later in the week

Approach number two is the best way for subjects such as history, English and

biology, which are very content heavy. This means that students are required to

take down large quantities of notes in short time frames. In this situation,

computer notes are a good idea! But to ensure you are retaining the information

after class, transfer the key parts of your notes to paper.