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Writing Helps You Remember Things Better Than Typing

Students, take note.

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Close the lid of your laptop: New research shows that taking notes by hand helps you remember conceptual information better than typing notes on your computer.

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreakmedia Ltd

And it doesn’t have to do with browsing Reddit when a lecturer is being boring: The inclination to take notes verbatim on a computer can hinder learning.

Researchers asked note-takers to listen to a TED Talk and later asked questions about it that either recalled facts or required conceptual thinking.


For example, "What year was the Eiffel Tower built?" (factual) versus "Why did the French Revolution begin?" (conceptual).

Both groups of students did equally well recalling facts, but laptop note-takers did significantly worse answering conceptual questions.


Even though students who took more notes overall did better, the internet-less laptop users who transcribed did worse, essentially canceling out their efforts with quantity rather than quality.

Researchers believe that the verbatim transcribers processed information more shallowly than students who reframed it in their minds and wrote it in their own words.

Anil Bolukbas/Anil Bolukbas

Next time you’re in a note-taking setting, forgo your solitaire urges and consider the ole pen and paper for better retention.