* This blog post is a summary of this video.

Effective Digital Note Taking Techniques for Students

Author: Ellen KelleyTime: 2024-01-19 22:35:00

Table of Contents

Introduction to Digital Note Taking Including Keyword Phrases Like Note Taking Apps

Digital note taking has become increasingly popular among students in recent years. By taking notes on a laptop or tablet, students can save time typing and organizing notes rather than writing everything out by hand. Digital notes are also easier to edit, share, and search later on when studying for exams.

In order to start taking digital notes, there are a few supplies that are recommended. First, you'll need a laptop, tablet, or 2-in-1 device to write your notes on. Popular choices include iPads, Microsoft Surface devices, MacBooks, and Chromebooks. You'll also need a good note taking app, like Microsoft OneNote, Google Docs, Evernote, or Notability. These apps allow you to type, draw, annotate, organize, and even record lectures.

Tech Supplies for Digital Note Taking

When it comes to supplies for digital note taking, your main considerations will be which devices and platforms you plan to use. Most students choose laptops or tablets like iPads as their primary digital note taking device. 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid devices are also excellent choices. On Apple devices, some popular digital note taking apps include Notability, GoodNotes, OneNote, and Apple Notes. For Windows or Android, top picks are OneNote, Google Docs, Evernote, and Microsoft's Sticky Notes app. You may want to download a few different note apps to test out before deciding on your favorite.

Top Note Taking App Options

There are many great digital note taking apps to choose from across different devices and platforms. On Apple products, top options include Notability, GoodNotes, OneNote, and the built-in Notes app. These provide writing, typing, recording, importing, and organizing features. For Windows, Android, and cross-platform use, top choices include OneNote, Evernote, Google Docs and Keep, and Microsoft's Sticky Notes. Test out a few options to find the best interface and features for your personal notetaking needs. Many apps also allow syncing across devices which is helpful.

Transferring Notes Efficiently With Textbooks, Scans, Voice

With digital notes, you don't have to meticulously type up everything you want to save from your classes and textbooks. There are several techniques to quickly and efficiently transfer information into your digital notes.

If you have access to digital textbooks through your school or retailer, you can often copy and paste relevant passages directly into your notes app. This saves a huge amount of time compared to transcribing from a physical book.

Scanning apps on your phone, like Microsoft Office Lens, can snap pictures of handwritten notes or textbook pages and convert them into editable text in word processing apps. This helps shortcut transcription.

Voice typing apps like those built into Google Docs or OneNote let you dictate notes while reading a book or listening to a lecture. The app transcribes your speech into text you can edit later.

Leveraging Digital Textbooks

Many schools and publishers now offer digital versions of textbooks that students can access on laptops or tablets. With a digital textbook, you can skip painstaking transcription and simply copy and paste relevant passages, facts, terms, and diagrams directly into your notes app. This saves an enormous amount of time compared to manually typing everything from a physical book. Look into whether your school participates in a digital textbook program or check with publishers about ebook options for your required texts.

Scanning Written Notes and Material

Apps like Microsoft Office Lens use your phone's camera to capture images of handwritten notes, textbook pages, slides, and more. These apps can scan the image and convert any text into editable formats. You can then copy and paste the converted text from Word documents into your digital notes. This technique helps bring non-digital content into your digital notes faster. Always be sure to edit any errors from the scan conversion process.

Voice Typing Notes

Voice typing, also called dictation, allows you to speak notes and content out loud while the app transcribes it into typed text. Apps like Google Docs and OneNote have built-in voice typing features. To use voice typing for notes, read your textbook, slides, or professor's lecture out loud while dictating into an open document in your notes app. Edit any transcription errors later. Voice typing helps you take notes hands-free while also reinforcing the content through reading aloud.

Formatting and Optimizing Notes for Comprehension and Studying

With digital notes, you have many more options for optimizing, formatting, and organizing your notes in ways that aid comprehension and recall compared to traditional handwritten notes.

Some key techniques include deleting repetitive or unimportant content from imported texts, simplifying vocabulary from course materials, color coding topics, incorporating multimedia content like images and videos, using headings and bullet points, and more.

Taking the time to actively format, prune, and optimize your digital notes will make them cleaner and easier to study from compared to dumping all your raw notes into one huge document.

Deleting Unnecessary Details

When bringing in content from textbooks or other sources, your notes don't need to contain every single word and minor detail. Actively go through and delete secondary information, repetitive content, and tangents that won't be relevant for your purposes. Distill things down to the core facts, concepts, steps, terms, and processes you need to understand and recall the material. Avoid overloading your notes with fluff and redundancies. Keep things concise.

Simplifying Vocabulary for Better Comprehension

Textbooks and lectures are full of complex vocabulary words in academic fields. Don't just copy these verbatim into your notes. As you take notes, consciously rephrase and simplify challenging jargon and concepts in your own words and everyday language. This makes the content more relatable, digestible, and easier to understand.

Formatting and Organizing Notes

Leverage formatting tools in your digital note taking app like colors, highlights, headings, bullet points, dividers, and more to organize and structure your notes in a clear way. For example, highlight key terms in one color, examples in another. Use headings and bullet lists to break down complex processes into organized steps. Apply bold, italics, or underlining for emphasis of core ideas.

Incorporating Visuals and Multimedia

Digital notes enable you to embed relevant visuals and multimedia like images, charts, graphs, illustrations, audio recordings, or video. Utilize these to engage visual learning styles. Find supplemental visual content online or create simple charts yourself to help represent processes and relationships between concepts. Add illustrations if helpful for memorization or comprehension. Integrating visuals helps reinforce the written content.

Tips and Tricks for Taking Better Digital Notes

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you master digital note taking:

Color code topics or types of information using highlight tools or fonts. Customize app settings to suit your notetaking style. Use keyboard shortcuts to work more efficiently. Leave space between sections and paragraphs instead of densely packing everything on the page.

Color Coding Your Notes

Many digital note apps let you color code elements like highlighting text in different colors. Set up a color coding system, like using pink highlights for key terms, blue for important dates, green for case studies, etc. Color coding provides visual association and makes notes more scannable.

Optimizing App Settings

Most note apps provide extensive customization options in their settings. Take time to explore and tweak these to optimize for your notes. Set your preferred font style and size, default spacing, auto-save frequency, default import options, and more.

Leveraging Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts for formatting, applying styles, inserting elements, etc. can save huge amounts of time vs. clicking around with your trackpad. Look up the available shortcut keys in your note app and practice using them until they become muscle memory.

Adding Whitespace

Avoid the temptation to cram your notes by filling every inch of the page. Leave space between sections, use line breaks between paragraphs, and avoid walls of text without visual breaks. Adding whitespace improves legibility, reduces mental fatigue, and provides visual structure. It also gives you room to annotate and expand on notes later.

Conclusion and Benefits of Going Digital for Note Taking

Digital note taking eliminates the drudgery and limited organization of traditional handwritten notes while offering powerful options for searching, editing, integrating multimedia, and syncing notes across devices.

By following digital techniques like leveraging text copies, voice transcription, scanning, effective formatting, and smart app features, students can create highly effective digital notes to help master course material and study for exams.


Q: What supplies do you need for digital note taking?
A: The main supplies are a laptop like a MacBook Air or Pro and note taking apps like Microsoft OneNote or Google Docs.

Q: Why import notes instead of typing them?
A: Importing notes from textbooks, handwritten scans, or voice typing is better for processing information and memorization.

Q: How can color coding notes help?
A: Color coding by highlighting key terms, formulas, or definitions in different colors organizes your notes and makes key parts easier to find.

Q: What are some key note taking app tips?
A: Customize default settings to your preferences, use keyboard shortcuts to work faster, and break content into paragraphs with whitespace.