5 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Handwritten Notes Digitally

The moment I bought my first iPad in 2012, it happened: I fell in love with taking digital handwritten notes. Here are 5 reasons why you should ditch the paper and start going digital:

GoodNotes on iPad Pro 9.7" with the Apple Pencil

1. Never lose your notes again

When you have to carry loads of heavy books to school everyday, you might want to slim down on your note taking material. So instead of carrying folders for every class or course with me (in 13 years of school and almost 4 years of university I have never been a big fan of that), I decided to go with a classic spiral-bound notepad and take all my notes in there.

I guess that is something that most of us can relate to: The teacher or professor distibutes a handout for the class, which you then carefully add to the thousands of other loose pages in your notepad, promising yourself that this time “you are really going to sort it into the right folder, when you come home after school”. And we all know how this is turning out. The moment you want to start preparing for the exam, all those pages never have seemed to exist and you have to admit, that once again, you lost your notes. Meanwhile, most of the handouts and lecture slides are available as PDFs or Powerpoint files anyway, so why even bother to print them out, when you can just import them into the notetaking app of your choice. If you still get paper, you can simply take a photo our one of the countless scanner apps available on the AppStore to digitalise it.

2. Always have your notes with you and never run out of fresh pages

Usually you don’t get the best ideas when you’re sitting at your desks, right? One of the major advantages of digital technologies is that everything is available almost everywhere. We carry a smartphone with us most of the time anyway and oh, how much I love the cloud. So when jotting down some thoughts or taking class notes, GoodNotes automatically syncs my documents across all of my devices, so that I can access them, no matter where I am. Plus, running out of pages is a thing of the past, and you don’t need to use your notepads cover as a last resort (yes, we have all done that).

The horror of an empty notepad

3. Organise and search for important information

Even if you managed to sort all of those loose pages into the right places eventually, you still have the problem that you end up with hundreds of pages at the end of the semester or school year, which makes it almost impossible to review them when preparing for the finals. The only chance was to use an army of colorfull post-it flags and desperatly try to keep track of your own organisation system. No more! I have recently written about how I organise my notes and use digital bookmarks to quickly jump to the relevant pages. The best thing is, GoodNotes even lets me search for my handwritten notes, so I can look up information in a second, by typing in keywords.

Search for handwriting and in PDF

4. Revise and review for better preparation

This one is a no-brainer. Digital notes always look good, because you can use different tools to move and resize objects on the page, or even change the color of them. Also you can erase or undo mistakes without leaving ugly eraser arrears on your paper.

Strangely, this led me to built a way more emotional connection towards my notes and suddenly reviewing them was a lot more fun. Eventually this ended up in me being a better student. 🤓

5. Save the planet

Sounds too rigorous? Think about it: Paper is a scarce resource, because yes, it is made from trees. And think about the countless hours (time is also a scarce ressource nowadays 😁) you spent in front of the printer and the tons of toner you have wasted. Certainly, there is still some research to be done, but I’m sure that in the long-term, taking handwritten notes on an iPad is way more eco-friendly than wasting all that paper.

BONUS: Why handwriting and not typing?

You might ask why I always talked about “handwritten” notes, even though typing on a computer is a lot faster. There are several reasons for it. One is certainly that I prefer the freedom and flexibility of handwriting over the rather rigid structures of typing notes. But topping that is that researchers from Princeton and UCLA actually found out that students who take handwritten notes outperform those who type on their computers.