Tips and Tricks for Digital Note Taking

Zofeya Dookie
Published on
March 17, 2023

If you’re reading this article right now, I assume that you are either interested in getting into digital note taking, or that you have recently purchased a device with the intention of converting to it - but you’re unsure of where to start. If so, then you’re in the right place! Below are some tips for getting started with digital note taking if you are a beginner, or even just looking for some tips to improve your note taking experience, but before you continue reading, please keep in mind that this guide is specifically catered towards note taking on tablets with the use of a stylus - and happy note taking! 

Before you even begin to dive into the world of digital note taking, one question that is crucial to ask yourself is ‘Why am I doing this in the first place?’ Do you want to become more organized with your notes, are you tired of carrying around tons of heavy books everywhere, or have you recently purchased a device that you want to make good use out of? If being organized is important for you, my first piece of advice would be to find an application that works best for you to keep all of your written notes. Like taking notes on paper, there are various ways you can store and keep your notes organized once you’ve written them. I would recommend finding a note taking app that works for you in terms of budget/user friendliness, as there are several both free and paid apps on the market that are advertised towards digital note taking for students. A few tried-and-true options for you to test out are goodnotes and notability (paid), and collanote (free). One thing these apps all have in common are their many customization options. There are different writing utensils, pen sizes, and colors that make it easy to customize your notes as you would with notes written on paper. Most importantly, these apps can safely keep your notes organized within your device and make it convenient for you to pull up for reference with just a few clicks, if needed. If you’re still having a difficult time choosing which output to organize your notes with, I would also recommend watching Youtube tutorials on user guides for whichever apps interest you and seeing which you like the best. 

Once you’ve found a suitable location for your notes, try practicing rewriting some of your already existing notes, but digitally. This is something that really helped me get used to taking notes digitally, as it allowed me to get a feel of how different it was from writing notes on paper. Not only can this help improve your handwriting on your device of choice, but can also help you pinpoint any obstacles you might encounter while taking notes during a trial period, rather than when it’s too late. These obstacles could include not knowing which tools or which template to use for your notes. Rather than jumping into taking notes during class right away, this can allow you to familiarize yourself with your app’s different features and settings.

Here I will be listing a few tips that are more personalized to how you take notes:

  • Depending on the app you use to take your notes, there might not be a ton of templates readily available that you are interested in using. If this is the case, there are plenty of online templates available for download that can be found on the web for your convenience. Take advantage of them, finding a cute template might motivate you to study more!
  • In terms of going from writing on paper, to writing on such a smooth surface as a flatscreen, you may encounter a few difficulties along the way. Don’t fear, however, because it’s like that for everyone! The difference in friction from writing with a pencil on paper to a stylus on a smooth screen cannot go unnoticed, but you will get used to it with time. If you’re still finding it difficult to write neatly on your device, you may want to invest in a Paperlike screen protector. In addition to protecting your device’s screen from damage, these screen protectors, which can be found for purchase online, are specially designed to mimic the friction that comes with writing using a pencil but, instead, with a stylus. Many people have expressed that paper-like screen protectors have made their experience writing on their devices much more comfortable, so this is always an option for those who feel like their undeveloped penmanship might be a setback.
  • This tip may be the most ambiguous of them all, but I cannot stress this one enough: make use of all of the features your device has to offer!! While I do love some old handwritten notes on paper, there are just some things that are made much, much easier by taking digital notes. For example, if you’re someone who likes to write in pen but is afraid of making errors that call for lines and lines of Wite-out, you no longer have to worry about ruining your beautiful notes, as you can erase and change things with a few taps. From handwriting to typing and voice recording options, there are several ways to ensure all of the necessary information is captured. Additionally, you have the ability to insert various charts and graphics into your notes easily, which is essential if you consider yourself a visual learner. It will take some time to get used to all these features, but I truly believe that they are extremely beneficial to the learning experience in general.

Overall, I hope these tips were helpful to anyone who is looking to get into taking notes digitally and now, for the most important tip of all - remember to have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to customize your notes with silly stickers or whatever it takes to make you feel satisfied while looking at them. We live in a day and age where technology can allow us to do so much at the touch of a finger, so don’t be afraid to let your creativity out. Once again, happy note-taking!!

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