How to take awesome digital notes graphic

As a student finding the best way in which you study is one of the most important things we all try to master during our time in education. 

For the last 16 years of my education, I have taking my notes during class using paper and pen, or pencil depending on the lesson, however this year I thought I would switch things up and try my hand at taking digital notes.

I had a couple of reasons behind this idea, one being that by the end of the year all the work I've done for all my classes adds up to a hefty amount in weight and carrying that to my lectures sure put a strain on my back. The other major reasoning was that I've been feeling guilty these last couple of years for the amount of paper and pens I go through in a year just to learn information for an exam at the end. I know it shouldn't be something to feel guilty about since I'm improving myself with all this education, however, there is always a part of me that feels guilty for the number of trees that are cut down for the paper I use and the amount of plastic that is left over when I finish with all the pens I use up. Therefore moving to digital note-taking didn't seem like such a bad idea.

I'm still learning what works best for me, but I wanted to write this post today in hopes that if anyone else is in the same boat as me and wishes to start taking digital notes this post will be of hope.


The first thing you'll need to do to take digital notes is getting your hands on an electronic device that will be compatible with this function. There are a few that you can choose from being it your laptop, iPad or even something like the Remarkable. I personally use my iPad since having just a laptop wouldn't work well with the subjects I study, trying to write equations on a laptop is such a pain, so that's what my advice will be based around but know that sometimes things can be used in replacement of each other or in tangent with each other.

Once you've chosen your means of taking digital notes and ideally have some form of a stylus to write with I use the apple pencil, however, know that this is not essential, we can get onto what apps to use.

I'm thinking of making a whole blog post about what apps I use and why, so if that is of interest let me know in the comments. But for now, we'll stick to just a simple app to take the notes and nothing else for revision and student life.

There are a couple of note-taking apps to choose from be in Notability, OneNote or as I use Goodnotes. Another side note but if you would like comparisons of these apps let me know and I'll make a blog post about those too. I won't go into too much detail about Goodnotes since I don't want to bombard you all with too much information at once, but I chose this one due to the fact you can choose the size of the paper you work on, so I chose A4, and there are features like the highlighter straightening your line for you when you highlight that I really like. Though it doesn't have the neatest of organisations for if your someone who needs to flick between different notebooks quickly I find the organisation to work well for me. I also like how you can import power points and PDFs that you can then annotate and highlight. This feature is great for when in lectures, since then you don't have to worry about writing everything from the presentation down and instead can focus on what the lecturer is saying in addition to what is written down.

I also want to add on a side note that if you are taking your notes digitally upload and save them to something like Google Drive, for then if your tablet or laptop breaks you won't lose all your work for the year. This is also helpful in making your notes available everywhere. Unless you are using OneNote then you can't typically have easy access to those notes from your laptop if you've been using a tablet. Having access to them means that if you do want to go back and type them up or onto the notes then you have easy access for that.

Additional to typed and written notes also feature like recording voices to go alongside your notes. I don't personally use this one since I learn better through the written word than I do the spoken but apps like Notability have features that will let you record within the app. However, make sure you have permission from your lecturers to record because as my study abroad host university was some university can be stricter than others when it comes to the sharing of their teachings.

I don't have much to say in terms of consolidation yet since I haven't really done much yet this semesters, motivation is low at the moment when study abroad isn't quite going to plan thanks COVID-19, but from my current standing though I want to make consolidation notes by pen and paper I'm on the hunt for some good apps on which I can make flashcards etc.

And with that, the only final note I have is, find what works best for you. Some people might want to write everything up on their tablets by hand, and some might want to type everything up. You might want to add pictures or just draw all the diagrams yourself. I'm still learning and trying to find out what best suits me, but if you want I can keep you all updated with the journey.

Do you take your notes digitally or the classical way of pen and paper?

- Sophie

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