What You Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop (and Why CaptureNotes Excels)

Researchers have found that note-taking can be more effective when done by hand rather than typing on a laptop. In the study, students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions but only slightly better on memorization of facts.

The Rise of Note Taking on a Laptop

Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. In the study, laptop users performed similarly on factual questions, but significantly worse on conceptual ones. Typing notes encourages word-for-word transcription without processing (think about it – you’re controlling your (often misguided) fingers with your mind, so there’s less capacity to interpret what’s being said). When laptops are used to take notes, they can impair your learning because it requires shallower processing. In essence, when you use your laptop to take notes, you transcribe verbatim rather than processing and re-framing the information in your own words. As a result, when you use your laptop, you remember less information later and do not perform as well. In addition, internet-connected laptops can be distracting – it’s easy to check email, switch to a social network or play games.

Cognitive Processing in Note Taking

The reason handwritten notes are better for learning is that taking notes by hand forces you to actively listen and decide what’s important. This activity requiries different types of cognitive processing, which has beneficial consequences for learning. Writing your notes in your own words encourages you to process and summarize what is being said rather than just repeating it.

CaptureNotes FTW

CaptureNotes gives you maximum flexibility with note taking. You can:

  • Take handwritten notes, including classroom diagrams or drawings
  • Type notes (perhaps to speed up memorization of key facts)
  • Include audio to review areas where your notes were unclear or unfinished
  • Capture additional notes with your camera
  • Import documents and handouts to your class notes



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