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7 Surprising Ways A Paper Notebook Can Improve Learning


Academics or studying in other ways is rewarding but also a difficult process. There are challenges in dipping your toes into new lessons and topics. With online studies becoming more popular and helpful in the last few years, new challenges unique to distance learning have surfaced.  

But no matter what kind of classes you’re taking, some staples are effective. These techniques could be applied universally whether you’re in a physical classroom, online, or even in a library.  

One of these strategies is notetaking, which is already a common way to go about studying. However, did you know that handwriting on a notepad is surprisingly effective? Some even say that it’s more efficient and practical than using electronic devices. 

To understand why using a paper notebook is so effective, take a look at the reasons below:

1. Makes Memorization Easier

While studying, you might be expected to memorize specific terms, dates, and even formulas. Reading books repeatedly might help, but it’s not effective for everyone. Some also like to use highlighters to emphasize essential texts, but some dislike putting marks on their books. This is understandable because some of these books can be expensive.  

So, instead of writing on your books or simply rereading the same page again and again, you could jot them down on a notebook that lays flat, like those with utilitarian spiral binding. The reason why it’s believed that it’s easier to remember things you write is that it’s a more sensory experience. Your mind, motor skills, visual perception, and touch sensation may all help remember the information you wrote.  

2. Helps You Slow Down And Focus

When you’re reading your lessons, it’s easy to drift off and not comprehend the information. So, you’re likely to go over the same sentence multiple times before you grasp it. If you’re taking notes, you could think about the sentences slowly. As you write each word, you could process it deeply and understand it within context. This way, it’s not just a flurry of words that make no sense while reading quickly.  

Sometimes, taking your time as you write your notes can actually save you more time. In comparison, you could be reading pages over and over again and still don’t fully understand them.  

Related: Developing Learning Goals to improve online course effectiveness

3. Gives You Freedom To Customize References

Another perk to taking notes is to pick out which details you want to include in your notes. For instance, if you have trouble remembering dates in your history class, you could customize your notes to look like a timeline. This way, you could get quick and easy access to information that you need. This is a better alternative than going through the hassle of looking for specific information in documents and books. 


4. You Could Adapt To Your Learning Style

People have different learning styles, which is another challenge to both teaching and learning. Some teachers might prefer to talk and discuss, while others like to write everything out on the board. Students might be more receptive to hearing the lessons, while others need to see or read.  

Either way, if listening, reading, or seeing visuals is what works for you, you could still combine it with notetaking. Some key information mentioned or read could be jotted down for later reference. You could even draw out tables or graphics if this style is effective for you.  

The customizability helps you adapt the notetaking to what works for you. Bullet lists are great for memorization since you could make them into something like a checklist. You could also use different colored pens so each shade could be symbolic. For example, using a red pen for important terminologies can make it stand out more.  

5. Removes Distractions

When it comes to studying, distractions aren’t welcome. This is because it’s going to ruin your momentum, waste your time, and even cause you learning losses, like failed tests or courses. If you find yourself quickly getting distracted if you study in front of your computer, it might be time for a new approach.  

There are specific software or applications that you could install on your devices. Still, you may be tempted to go back to old habits like scrolling through social media, watching videos, or playing games. If you have your notes on you, you could easily go offline and remove any distractions from your study space. 

Related: How to improve Learning effectiveness through Gamification

6. You Have Freedom To Use It How You Want To

The great thing about notebooks is that you have a lot to choose from. Spiral ones are great because they lay flat, while others prefer hardbound notebooks because it keeps its shape better. Lined notebooks are great for simply writing information, but you could also get ones that have grids, dots, or blank pages. 

For subjects like geometry and trigonometry, going for grid notebooks will make notetaking and drawing shapes easier. On the other hand, for subjects like anatomy, you could go for notebooks with blank pages so you could easily sketch out images. 

You could also condense all your subjects in one notebook. This makes the information easy to access because you won’t have to carry so many books and notebooks with you. But some prefer to have different notebooks for each subject so they could keep it organized. Hence, notetaking is a more flexible way to take your notes and write down information that you think is important or you have difficulties remembering. 

7. They’re Lightweight And Portable

Sometimes, you might want to study somewhere else other than your room or the library. It might also be inevitable that you might have to study in unlikely places. Some students study during their work break, while others do it on the train. Whatever your situation is, finding time to study is important. 

However, bringing books with you all the time could be exhausting. You could have some documents on your device like your phone or laptop, but it’s going to be useless if you run out of batteries. Besides, not everyone has portable devices like tablets or laptops.  


Even with the development of technology, sometimes, keeping it simple is better when studying. While the internet is excellent for research, having a notepad in front of you to take notes will allow you to remember and understand what you write. Even if you’re in a place with no internet or devices, you could rely on your handy notebooks to help you out.