My job involves lots of notetaking, at meetings, so it was with real practical interest that I read this article in The Atlantic, about a new study into whether taking notes on laptop or by hand helps you to recall what you’ve written better. The nub of it:
“We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,” Mueller [one of the researchers] told me. “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.”
She thinks this might be the key to their findings: Take notes by hand, and you have to process information as well as write it down. That initial selectivity leads to long-term comprehension.
“I don’t think we’re gonna get more people to go back to notebooks necessarily,” Mueller said. “Tablets might be the best of both worlds—you have to choose what to write down, but then you have the electronic copy.”
I take longhand notes on my iPad, using a stylus on Penultimate synced to Evernote, which certainly works well in terms of combined free-flowing notation and cloud-based storage, but I’ve never considered that there might be memory benefits too…