Note-Taking: iPad vs. Classic Paper and Pen

Fatima Lira
Edited by Angela Lapuz 
Published on
October 25, 2023

Note-taking is needed in many subjects and is a valuable skill to have and master. Nowadays, note-taking has gotten better as students begin to use iPads for studying. It has grown in popularity, but does it beat out the tried-and-true method of paper and pen? Is it suitable for you? It is important to learn the pros and cons of each to decide which is ideal for you.



  1. Versatility: iPads are ideal since they allow you to take notes in whatever format works best for you. This includes everything from typed notes to handwritten notes by using a luxurious stylus or pen. For students who prefer visual or audio features, you can effortlessly include images and recordings from your gallery, textbook, or the internet.
  2. Organization:Any note-taking app provides a wide range of organizational tools tailored to your own needs and preferences. Creating color-coded folders, files, and tags has never been easier. Searching for earlier notes is no longer a chore because finding precise information is much faster and accessible.
  3. Environmentally Friendly: Using an iPad encourages the reduction of paper consumption and helps save a few more trees. Taking notes digitally is eco-friendly and overall sustainable!


  1. Learning Curve: New iPad users are usually unfamiliar with the many features that iPads have to offer. They may not best utilize these features and have trouble navigating. In addition, studies address that taking notes on an iPad takes longer to retain and remember information.
  2. Distractions: When it comes to technology, being distracted is inevitable. iPads can prove to be distracting since social media and game applications are just a tap away. It can become a huge challenge to stay focused on note-taking.
  3. Cost: An iPad alone is quite pricey ranging from $250 to $799 for the 11 inch iPad Pro with 128 GB. Furthermore, buying an Apple pencil costs another $130. That is so far the price for the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. The 1st Generation costs 100 dollars. In short, additional accessories only increase the price. 

Pen and Paper


  1. Memory Recall: Taking notes on paper encourages memory recall and cognitive understanding as well. Being fully focused helps you retain information you are writing down much easier and utilizes critical thinking.
  2. Zero Distractions: With paper and pen, there are no notifications or tempting applications ready to distract you. When writing on paper, you are solely focused on the information being given and writing it down.
  3. No Battery Anxiety: Paper will never let you down as there are no battery warnings to worry about. You can jot down notes anytime and anywhere without the need to recharge!
  4. Cost-Effective: A class pen and paper are extremely inexpensive and do not require that much of an investment compared to an iPad. You can buy multiple pens and notebooks for less than the price of an iPad by itself.


  1. Limited Organization: Creating tabs and folders in a notebook may not be as easy as it is done on an iPad. It can take a long time finding notes from a specific class and time as there is no search function.
  2. Space and Accessibility: A single notebook by itself may be pretty bulky and take up physical space. It is a completely different story when there are multiple notebooks involved since carrying numerous notebooks for different subjects can be extremely inconvenient. Also, you may experience back and/or shoulder pain when carrying a lot of notebooks at once.
  3. Environmental Impact: Paper production does have its environmental impacts as it encourages paper consumption and taking down trees.
  4. No Backup: Losing school supplies is fairly common. If you lose your notebook, your notes are gone forever.

Which one to choose?

Choose an iPad if: You value digital organization, versatility, and the ability to access your notes anywhere and anytime. If you’re tech-savvy or don’t mind the learning curve, having an iPad can be a powerful note-taking tool.

Choose the Classic Paper and Pen if: You prefer having absolutely no distractions and appreciate a tactile experience and the simplicity of traditional note-taking. If you think you can thrive without digital features, then opt for paper and pen.


“Buy 11-Inch IPad pro Wi-Fi 128GB - Space Gray.” Apple,

News, Neuroscience. “Stronger Brain Activity after Writing on Paper than on Tablet or Smartphone.” Neuroscience News, 19 Mar. 2021,

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