About every two years, computer processing doubles in speed and power. This trend has fueled a massive shift in how we store and manage information. One area where this change is evident is in the realm of note-taking.
Gone are the days when pen and paper were the only options; now, the era of digital notes has taken over. With the rise of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, more and more people are switching to digital platforms for jotting down their thoughts, ideas, and important information.
But is this shift really beneficial?
Whether you’re a student, a working professional, or just someone looking to improve your note-taking habits, this article will help you make an informed decision on which approach suits your needs best. Let’s dive in and weigh the merits of traditional vs. digital note-taking.
Pros of Digital Notes
With online notes, your memos will be as mobile as you are. You’ll never have to worry about leaving your documents behind or losing them in a sudden gust of wind. If you have to prove to your lecturer that homework isn’t due today or you need information for an interview with a client, you can easily whip out your device and find the info.
But the wonders of digital notes go beyond portability. Here are a few more benefits that’ll have you switching to digital note-taking in no time.
Electronic note-taking is much more efficient than its physical alternative. You can create folders, subfolders, and tags to organize your messages. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, go ahead and categorize by color or date.
The search functionality of digital notes is one of its biggest advantages. You can find keywords, tags, and text inside images, and even search through PDFs.
Say goodbye to the endless scavenger hunt for your study materials! With this feature, you’ll be able to locate information right in time for your next study session.
Your notes will always be a swipe away—as long as you have internet access. Furiously searching for missing notebooks and lamenting over spilled coffee ruining your precious scribbles is a thing of the past. Digital note-taking makes sure your info is safe and sound, no matter how chaotic your schedule may be.
It’s also easier to preserve your essential documents with the helpful cloud storage services offered by Google Drive and Dropbox. Not only will your cherished data be secure, but you’ll also be able to effortlessly sync your files across devices and share them with classmates.
Easy Editing and Formatting
Digital notes allow for effortless editing and sleek formatting—a major improvement over messy scribbles and crumpled paper. Give your text the spotlight it deserves by jazzing it up with bold, italics, underlines, or even the rebellious strikethrough formatting options. With this neat trick, you can condense all your notes and thoughts into a simple and readable document.
Because you’re not limited to just boring old words, you can spice up your notes with some multimedia flair. Digital notes allow you to add cute cat videos, link to research papers, or integrate your favorite conspiracy theory forums.
It’s an added perk that you can unleash your inner artist and doodle away into glory while still taking notes and creating diagrams.
If you’re feeling too lazy to type, some apps have a voice recognition feature. You can input all the right details without lifting a finger.
You can work with friends, family, or classmates to create an outline for a project or to draft the first few chapters of your novel. Your boss may even request you to jot down your to-do’s in the digital realm so everyone’s on the same page.
Even though there are some limitations when it comes to collaboration (i.e., if an employee only has access privileges), it’s still easier than having everyone sitting around with paper copies.
If you take digital notes, you’ll waste less paper. Besides your computer’s hard drive—which uses far less electricity than a printer and copier—there are no physical materials involved in taking digital notes. This means fewer trees will be cut down and fewer ink cartridges will be used.
Cons of Digital Notes
There is a learning curve to using digital notes, and it can be time-consuming. You’ll need some practice getting used to writing with whatever stylus comes with your device (or even just with your finger).
While digital notes are certainly more convenient than traditional ones, there are some drawbacks to consider.
Digital notes are less conducive to studying than handwritten ones. As long as you’re using a phone or tablet, there are potential distractions from notifications and other apps.
To avoid these distractions, turn off notifications for all your apps except for the note-taking program you’re using. You’ll also have to exercise discipline by staying away from YouTube and Facebook during your note-taking sessions.
If your laptop or tablet breaks, is stolen or lost, or otherwise becomes inoperable during an exam period, then you’re out of luck; there’s no way to review your lecturer’s messages.
There’s also the risk of using incompatible software. If your device can’t handle the apps required to take notes, then it may have technical issues that cause it to crash or freeze.
You can’t pause life while you’re rebooting gadgets. You’ll miss out on crucial updates from your lecturer whenever your device decides not to respond.
Handwriting has several advantages over typing.
First, it’s more personal. Every note you write will have a unique look and feel that can’t be replicated by anyone else.
Second, handwriting allows for greater expression than typing does. Your pen strokes will vary depending on how fast you write or how much pressure was applied while penning each letter. It’s impossible for computers to ever replicate this kind of freedom when creating digital documents.
Finally—and most importantly—handwriting improves cognitive functions. Your brain has to work harder to convert thoughts into written words so you’re more likely to concentrate on finishing the task at hand.
Writing by hand also fosters creativity and problem-solving skills, which are essential for anyone who wants to succeed in the business world.
If you’re using an iPad or MacBook, the device itself will cost you a few hundred dollars. In contrast, taking notes on paper only requires a small investment.
Software costs also come into play. These vary depending on what kind of program you use. Microsoft Office 365, for example, will cost about $99 per year for each person in your household who wants to access your text documents.
Top Notetaking Apps
Most students don’t look for a separate app to take notes because the best study apps are usually those with built-in note-takers. However, dedicated notation platforms exist, and they offer more functionality than what you’d find on a typical study app.
These apps can be particularly useful if you want to use your notes for more than just studying, such as writing a paper or preparing slides for class.
Apple Notes is the default note-taking app for the iOS operating system. It’s simple with a clean interface that makes it easy to create new notes, search through existing ones, and share files with others.
The app also has some basic collaboration features. You can add collaborators by using their email addresses or phone numbers.
There’s also an option to sync your notes across all devices connected to your iCloud account.
Beyond these tools, Apple Notes doesn’t have many impressive features. If you want more advanced tools like real-time editing or file sharing, check out the other apps we’ve listed below.
Obsidian is a free note-taking app that allows you to build an interlinked digital database. You can store documents and files, as well as notes, in your Obsidian account. The app syncs across devices so all your information will be available wherever you need it.
The biggest difference between Obsidian and other apps like Evernote or Google Keep is that Obsidian is more complex. It doesn’t just allow you to take notes; it also helps you organize those notes into categories, making them easier to search through later on. The program saves you the frustration of desperately trying to find something.
Say goodbye to juggling multiple apps and hello to the Swiss Army knife of productivity tools. Notion isn’t just a note-taking app; it’s also a task manager, wiki creator, and spreadsheet wizard.
With Notion’s flexibility, you can build a note-taking utopia with customizable blocks, templates, and databases. Collaborate with your team in real time, assign tasks, and leave witty comments that will have your colleagues chuckling at their desks.
You can also organize your notes, tasks, and projects in a visually appealing hierarchy that sparks joy in even the messiest of minds. With Notion, you’ll become the envy of every productivity enthusiast.
If you’re looking for a note-taking app that’s as reliable as your favorite pair of jeans, look no further. Evernote’s got your back when your human brain fails to recall that crucial piece of information. With its powerful search capabilities, you can find that elusive note you scribbled eons ago in a few seconds.
It’s not limited to just text documents either; you can use Evernote as a digital scrapbook. Add images, voice memos, and web clippings to all your significant files.
Evernote is a godsend for anyone who struggles to stay organized. Not only does it have tags, but it also allows you to use separate notebooks for all your projects and ideas.
For example, if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to start a blog, you can have a notebook dedicated to writing posts and managing comments. When you’re ready to jot down your personal goals, you can easily switch over to a different notebook.
And who says note-taking can’t be stylish? Evernote lets you add a dash of pizzazz to your documents with formatting options, checkboxes, and bulleted lists.
The best part is that it’s free. You can use Evernote on all your devices at no extra charge.
It’s the versatile companion you’ve been looking for in a note-taking app. Give it a whirl and watch as your ideas, tasks, and projects transform into a beautifully organized digital masterpiece.
Get ready to bid adieu to the chaos of scattered notes, because Notability is here to help you take notes, annotate PDFs, and create checklists with ease. There are also recording capabilities so you can track meetings and lectures without having to write everything down.
You’ll also find that Notability has some features that can help you with note-taking on the go, such as the ability to send files directly to other apps like Dropbox or Google Drive.
It’s got a handwritten search feature and a drawing tool that makes Picasso look like an amateur. You can even access math conversions that make deciphering equations a breeze.
Improve Your Studying Methods With Better Tools
While digital notes offer easy organization, multimedia capabilities, and seamless synchronization, they also come with their share of drawbacks. There are potential distractions and a lack of tactile engagement—which is usually associated with traditional pen-and-paper methods.
The key to effective studying lies in understanding your unique learning style and adapting your note-taking techniques accordingly. By staying open to new developments, you can create an approach that optimizes your learning experience.
Read our technology section to learn more about the tools available to you and how they can help you study smarter.