10 Comparisons between handwritten and digital note-taking methods – Choose the best for you

We all love having options. 

And we all want to enjoy the juice from the option.

But, most of us often confuse and suffer while choosing an option.

It’s the same here as well.

The advancement of technology has put us in a debate – which note-taking method is the best and most effective one?

Nowadays, everyone has access to technology, and almost most people have a laptop.

So, the availability and comfort have made people think of using the digital medium for the note-taking process.

On the downside, people do think that – “will I experience the same benefits that I get from the handwritten note-taking method while using the digital method?”

The purpose of note-taking is to recall and remember the concept of the topic.

Both methods have pros and cons. Both are effective in certain aspects. 

I have built this article extensively to answer your question, speaking the concept of both note-taking methods and their pros and cons. Additionally, I have compared both of them to give a vivid picture to you. 

So, come on, let’s dive in!

Handwritten notes:

A handwritten note-taking method is otherwise known as the traditional method of note-taking. This method requires only a pen, pencil, and note.

There are various handwritten note-taking methods in practice. Each method has its own advantages and enhances your learning, remembering, recalling, and understanding curve. 

Studies suggest that the handwritten note-taking method emphasizes and improves cognitive engagement. 

It also suggests that taking notes by hand gives the person a more profound understanding of the subject and helps him remember even for a prolonged period. 

Let’s look at the pros and cons of handwritten notes.


  1. The topic will be remembered for a long and short period. 
  2. It is less distracting.
  3. The cost of a pen, pencil and paper is cheap.
  4. The retention period is so high.
  5. It gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility in comfort as well as writing.


  1. It takes time to write by hand.
  2. Real-time collaboration is not possible.
  3. Editing and organizing will be complex.
  4. It can be easily destroyed.
  5. It can’t be shared with others at the same time.

Digital note-taking method:

The digital note-taking method helps the students to keep good, neat, and organized notes.

You can follow verbatim note-taking. And adding visuals to the note-taking can make it more attractive.

Instead of using paper, using digital methods will save the environment. 

You can either use a tablet or laptop to take notes. When you’re using tablets, you can mingle both the handwritten model and the digital model. You can write on the tablet and can edit and customize later using your free hand.

Below are the pros and cons of the digital methods:


  1. Typing is faster when compared to writing.
  2. Editing and organizing the notes is simple and hassle-free.
  3. It’s easily portable.
  4. Easy to share notes with others.
  5. Using cloud service, you can keep your notes safe and secure.
  6. Collecting slides from the lecturer could save you time. 


  1. Buying a laptop or tablet is expensive.
  2. It runs on the battery.
  3. Digital methods distract a lot.
  4. Writing on a tablet will be time-consuming.

10 comparison of handwritten and digital note-taking methods:

As said before, both methods have pros and cons. There are areas where handwritten notes have the upper hand, and the digital note-taking method has the upper hand. 

So, I have listed out 10 crucial aspects required for note-taking, compared with both the methods and spot the areas in which one holds the superiority.


Using the digital note-taking method, it is easy to backup your notes. There are several note-taking apps available like Evernote, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and so on, where you can write, edit, organize and store easily. Using your email id and password, you can access your notes anywhere, anytime and on any device. 

When it comes to the traditional method, if the note is lost or destroyed, it’s gone forever. To backup your notes – you have to either re-write them again in a new notebook or take xerox to back up your handwritten notes. So, the digital method has the upper hand.


This section will be a neutral ground. With the digital note-taking method, you can add visuals at ease by just copy-paste method. In the handwritten method, you have to draw visuals like graphs and diagrams. This has both positive and negative impacts. Freehand drawing could be hectic, but on the bright side, it will help you remember the visuals for the long and short term. 


The digital note-taking method requires power. Once the battery is drained out, you have to plug in the power source. If not, you can’t write, view or edit. But, the handwritten notes don’t have any such concern. You can check it out anytime you want. Thus, the handwritten method wins this comparison battle.


Looking at the digital screen for a long time can damage your eyes. In that case, the handwritten method is the best, as it doesn’t damage health and it is the winner.

Customizing and editing: 

The efficiency of a handwritten note-taking method depends on your handwriting and the flow of the concept. If your handwriting is poor, it will be hard for you to understand, recall or even recognize the topic. Besides, if the concept flow is not perfect, understanding the topics won’t be very clear. 

Customizing and organizing the content is difficult in the handwritten method. However, using the digital note-taking method, you can customize, edit, and organize your content and make it attractive at ease. In this category, the digital note-taking method wins the battle.


You can share your digital notes with your friends through mail or online medium. Since you will have only one copy of handwritten notes, you can’t share them with others. But still, there is a chance of sharing your handwritten notes – if the other person can copy or take xerox and hand it back to you. So, the digital note-taking method strikes.

Finding notes instantly: 

With many subjects and many topics to be learned in your academic life, you have to keep your notes organized. You can’t keep searching for a specific topic on the handwritten notes when needed. 

Using the digital note-taking method, you can organize the topics in a separate folder, rename the documents, and pick them up whenever needed. Yes, the digital method has added another point to the list.

Recalling and remembering: 

Here comes the actual question. All the studies mention that – for conceptual understanding, the handwritten note-taking method is the best. 

A study conducted with a set of digital note-takers and handwritten note-takers tells us. During the exam, the handwritten note-takers did well both by remembering what they had learned and getting good grades compared to the digital note-takers. In this comparison, the handwritten wins the battle.

Efficient note-taking method: 

Verbatim (word by word) note-taking is a waste of time and will not make you understand the concept. When it comes to the handwritten note-taking method, you can’t note down all the lecturer’s words – you have to understand the concept and note down only the core points. This results in a practical understanding of the concept and will help you recall the topics once you glance at your notes. But, since typing is easier than writing, it may push to verbatim note-taking. So, for an efficient note-taking option, the handwritten note-taking method is the best.


If you use a digital note-taking method and find the class boring, you can use Facebook or play games in-class hours. Or, if you’re paying complete attention to the class and suddenly your Facebook notification pops us, you will get distracted. You will be urged to check out the notification and get distracted. But, with the traditional method, you will not have anything to distract you, and yes, it wins.


In this article, I have given you both the pros and cons of both note-taking methods. Plus, I have also listed 10 comparisons between both handwritten notes and digital note-taking methods.

It’s your call to make. 

If you’ve trouble understanding the concept while studying at home, then a handwritten note-taking method would be appropriate for you.

But, if you want to save time and keep it secure with a backup option, you can opt for a digital method. The choice is yours.

Try using both methods and check which one comforts you and helps you learn better.

In this case, my suggestion would be to use both. Anyway, you’re going to recall the topics that have been taught to you today. So, why not try both?

Use handwritten notes while listening to a lecture. After returning home and while revising, you can use the digital note to build effective notes along with visuals. 

Or, once after writing it in hand, you can take pictures of it and save it in apps like Evernote, docs and so on.

This will help you understand the concept and will help you keep organized notes.

So, choose wisely and thrive in your academic life.



Helen Gallegos

Copywriter | Social Media Expert | Writer | Blogger

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