Glean: Handwriting vs typing notes

Glean Guest Blog: Wondering whether to pack your laptop for your next class?

We know there’s a lot of information out there about learning with tech, so we thought we’d answer a pretty basic question – is it better to type or write your notes?

Thankfully, there’s been plenty of research into this topic in recent years.

We’ve broken it down for you in a quick comparison.

The benefits of handwritten and typed notes

Handwritten notes

There’s evidence that taking notes by hand helps encode information into your long term memory better than other methods.

By taking notes on paper, you’re forcing your mind to work a little harder with the information you’re facing. Because you can’t write fast enough to get everything down by hand, you tend to summarize key points, which can help with your conceptual understanding of the subject.

In other words, the limitations of handwritten notes make learners naturally follow a more effective note taking process, based on summary and interpretation.

Typed notes

You can type at a much faster rate than writing, making laptop note taking the most efficient method for note taking. And because capturing more notes is better for learning, you can use this to your advantage.

Using digital programs makes it much easier to keep your notes organised and searchable than using a notebook, too. This will really help you out when you’re reviewing your notes later on.

The drawbacks of handwritten and typed notes

Handwritten notes

You’ll miss a lot of important information writing notes by hand. You’ll never be able to keep up with everything that’s being said, so you need to have a very effective method to get the most from class.

Another problem you may come across is collating your notes. Keeping everything together is one thing, but making sure your notes are useful for study is another, and you’ll need to do both to make note taking worthwhile in the long run.

Typed notes

Studies show that students tend to transcribe the professor’s words when typing notes. This captures more material, but it’s less useful for understanding the subject on a conceptual level. Typing notes in this way causes shallower information processing than handwritten notes.

For this reason, it’s assumed that typing notes is automatically less effective than writing. That’s not necessarily true (if you take the right approach).

The verdict

Looking at the pros and cons, one thing becomes a little clearer; your note taking needs to follow a process that plays to its strengths for learning.

Handwritten notes help note takers process information at a higher level. And typed notes help learners capture more information. Both of these advantages are critical to deep learning of lecture material.

Just as the drawback of writing notes – the speed you can do it – pushes you to process new information more effectively, the advantage of typed notes can be detrimental to learning if transcribing a lecture is all you’re doing.

What you really need is a mix of both these approaches – a note taking method that allows you to properly digest what’s being said, while capturing more material to review when it really counts.

So how can you ensure you’re processing information properly while capturing everything you need?

Note taking for better learning

Note taking is just as much about process as it is about the content of the notes themselves.

If you want to take notes that’ll really improve your learning, it helps to have a simple process to take, review and use your notes – one that’s easy to follow and stick to, and proven to get you the results you need.

We call ours CORI.

Get involved

If you are a student, industry professional or DSA business we would like you to get involved. We’re always looking for feedback and ‘Student Champions’ for Remtek Students to improve the student journey. 

If you have advice or information that could be useful to students get in touch today. Contact Danielle at

Say Hello!


0161 745 8353


0161 745 8353


University Business Park, Unit 42 Leslie Hough Way, Salford M6 6AJ

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