Physical vs Digital notebooks

There are many pros and cons to both digital and physical notebooks, with the main one coming down to your…

There are many pros and cons to both digital and physical notebooks, with the main one coming down to your personal preference! However, this article will show a few advantages and disadvantages to both to help you make a decision if you’re stuck between the two.

First of all, physical notebooks are the classic option, however, are they getting left behind as we convert further towards a fully technology-based society?

Physical notebook advantages

  • Studies have shown you’re more likely to retain information if using a physical notebook therefore they could be a good choice for revision purposes since you’re more aware of what you’re writing down.
  • Cheap, notebooks are a lot cheaper than their digital alternative and can also be a good option for revision. For example you can utilise highlights and sticky notes to help enhance revision.
  • They’re portable, you can take a physical notebook with you anywhere, however they may get a little heavy if you have more than one.
  • When writing you won’t get distracted by notifications that could disrupt your learning flow, causing it to take longer than necessary to complete your work.
  • Flexibility, you can write anything and anywhere in a notebook.
  • Simplicity, when writing in a digital notebook you can easily become distracted by all the different features which could take away from actually writing notes.

Physical notebook disadvantages

  • There are no back-ups to a physical notebook so once it’s gone or damaged that’s it. They can also easily be damaged, spilling water or leaving it behind could mean all your notes are lost. To help prevent this, leaving an email or phone number on the first page could allow someone to contact you if it’s left behind in the library.
  • They can’t be edited, if you’ve accidentally written the wrong thing it can’t be corrected and if this is done a number of times your notes could quickly become confusing.
  • It takes longer. Writing in a notebook can take a lot of time, especially if you’re taking notes during lectures where the lecture has a lot of slides to get through.

Digital notebooks can help solve some of the disadvantages of a physical notebook. However, this doesn’t mean they’re perfect!

Digital notebook advantages

  • It’s easy to delete and restore mistakes. Spelling mistakes and incorrect information can easily be removed and replaced without getting your notes all muddled together.
  • They can be saved and sent to numerous devices. There’s no worry of losing any material as it can be backed up and sent to multiple devices. Therefore it can also be accessed from anywhere.
  • Photos can be inputted such as graphs and figures, this can help to enhance notes, making them more useable.
  • You can write notes directly into lecture slides without using up your printing credit. This makes it faster to write notes in lectures and can make more sense when going back over them since they’ll correlate to a specific slide.

Digital notebooks disadvantages

  • Digital notebooks are expensive and can be an unnecessary cost if you’re only using it for a couple things
  • They have a battery life. If you’re planning a long library session, make sure not to forget your charger!
  • Writing on glass is very different to writing on paper therefore you could find it uncomfortable and it takes longer to write notes.

As there are number of pros and cons for both, it could be useful to utilise both for different things too. For example, using a physical notebook for revision notes and a digital notebook for lecture notes!

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