I like keeping notes, mostly beause I can record information and use it later, but also because I like writing. Recently, I’ve started wondering which approach would be better for me: writing by hand (I keep a Bullet Journal) or typing on a device (a phone and/or a laptop).

Yesterday, I’ve read the article Why You Should Take Notes By Hand which boils down to the following two points:

  • writing by hand is too slow to record everything we hear during a lecture or a meeting, so we need to process the information and this aids the learning process;
  • digital devices tend to distract us a lot, even if we do not stare at them at the moment.

In the Introduction to Bullet Journal we read that:

studies keep identifying benefits of writing by hand

So I’ve tried finding scientific evidence to back this sentence. A ResearchGate search helped me find something more objective. According to the paper Laptop versus longhand note taking: effects on lecture notes and achievement:

Achievement findings suggest that the optimal note-taking medium depends on the nature of the lecture and whether notes are reviewed.

The authors mention two functions of note-taking: recording information and learning. Research results suggest that hand-written notes are better for learning without reviewing the notes, while notes typed on a digital device work better when reviewed.

I’ve also found a nice article 5 Benefits of Handwriting Compared to Typing, According to Science to be quite informative (and it’s got references!), but it failed to mention the important aspect of different functions of different approaches to note-taking.

The conclusion is obvious: depending on the goal, I should choose different tools. Meeting minutes should probably be taken on a computer, because I can record the information quite quickly and review it later. When reading a book, studying some material or talking on a phone, taking notes on paper might work better.