A Guide to Digital Note-Taking

woman's hand writing with a digital pencil

Many students are giving up their notebooks and pens and going fully digital. This is beneficial for numerous reasons, including less risk of losing notes, better search capabilities, and greater organization. To take effective digital notes, here are a few things you can do.

1. Experiment with Different Note-Taking Methods

There are various methods for note-taking — you should use whatever makes the most sense to you. It may be worth experimenting with a few methods to figure out which that is.

One of the most popular is the Cornell method. This involves dividing the page into three sections: two columns at the top and a space at the bottom. In one of the columns, write your notes from class. In the other, write cues — these are short sentences (such as trigger questions) that help you remember the substance of the material. At the bottom of the page, summarize your notes.

Another technique is the sentence method. At the top of the page, write the topic of the lesson. Underneath, list the subtopics, following each with sentences describing the main takeaways.
A variation on the sentence method is the outlining method. The difference is that, instead of writing full sentences, you summarize the points in bullet points.

2. Choose the Right Note-Taking Tool

In addition to the regular word processing application on your laptop, you should consider using note-taking apps. These offer templates you can use to organize your notes using the above methods. Find out what’s available for the type of device you want to use and choose whatever you find the most user friendly. Although many apps have paid subscriptions available, you should find that the free version is sufficient for your needs as a student.

3. Use Colours and Pictures

Many students use different coloured pens to take notes by hand — it’s just as easy to incorporate colour into digital notes. This allows you to organize your notes at a glance and helps you to find the information you’re looking for.

An extra advantage of digital notes is the fact you can include pictures with ease. You may like to add pictures from your professors’ presentations, screenshots of diagrams you find online, and other graphics that will enhance your notes. If you want to include diagrams you draw yourself, either use a drawing tool or draw the diagram on a sheet of paper and take a picture.

4. Turn Off Notifications

The one drawback of digital note-taking is it is easier to become distracted. The internet is just a click away; plus, you may be receiving notifications that draw your attention away from your studies. Constant interruptions make it more difficult to focus on what you’re learning and likely mean you spend much more time studying than is necessary. To avoid this happening, you need to be disciplined enough to avoid doing anything unrelated to your studies while taking notes. Turning off notifications will go a long way to help with this.

Switching to digital note-taking is just one way to up your study game. Another is to move into off-campus student rentals. Oshawa students who live at 17Hundred have their own room in a fully-furnished apartment as well as access to dedicated study spaces. We make it easy for you to study, socialize, and arrive at your classes on time. Book a tour to check out our student living community before you move in.