# Writing digitally may reduce understanding

Writing digitally is a lot faster than writing by hands. The speed of typing therefore will allow you to copy what you have read or heard. This is good if what you're trying to do is to copy, but bad if what you're trying to do is to learn, or to understand. The tendency to copy will reduce understanding as you'll be too focused on copying. As it's impossible to copy what you read by hands, you will be forced to understand the essence of what you read or hear. Not only what you will handwrite is shorter, but also you will gain a better understanding (Ahrens 78).

Personally I would still prefer to write my notes digitally as I wouldn't be able to afford a space to store all my physical notes. When you know your sickness, you are halfway cured. Be conscious that you shouldn't copy even when you're writing your notes digitally.

# References

Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (p. 78).

You can type a literature note directly into Zotero, where it will be stored with the bibliographic details. You might want to write them by hand, though. Different independent studies indicate that writing by hand facilitates understanding. In a small but fascinating study, two psychologists tried to find out if it made a different if students in a lecture took notes by hand or by typing them into their laptops (Mueller and Oppenheimer 2014). They were not able to find any difference in term of the number of facts the students were able to remember. But in terms of understanding the content of the lecture, the students who took their notes by hand came out much, much better. After a week, this difference in understanding was still clearly measurable.

There is no secret to it and the explanation is pretty simple: Handwriting is slower and can't be corrected as quickly as electronic notes. Because students can't write fast enough to keep up with everything that is said in a lecture, they are forced to focus on the gist of what is being said, not the details. But to be able to note down the gist of a lecture, you have to understand in the first place. So if you are writing by hand, you are forced to think about what you hear (or read) - otherwise you wouldn't be able to grasp the underlying principle, the idea, the structure of an argument.