Take Notes: The Pen Is Mightier Than The Keyboard

June 9th, 2015

As information becomes increasingly digital, people are naturally replacing taking notes by hand with typing on computers. Laptops far outnumber notebooks in today’s classrooms, but a Princeton study contends that while typing may be faster for recording information, it can also interfere with memory. 

Digital life is exposing humans to more information than ever before and it’s impossible to pay attention to, process and remember everything we encounter. Efficient technologies for recording and organizing information, like Evernote, are always evolving, but these can actually interfere with memory by replacing the natural cognitive functions that are necessary for humans to form memories.

Published recently by Princeton University psychologist Pam Mueller in the journal Psychological Science, The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard compares how writing by hand and typing influence memory in three different experimental conditions. The study concludes:

We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.


Access the full study here, or read a synopsis: How Typing Is Destroying Your Memory.