NOTE TAKING & The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard – Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  This research confirms prior research, which suggests that longhand note taking is better than taking notes on a laptop for the following reasons:

  • Laptop note taking usually results in transcribing lectures verbatim.
  • Longhand note taking…
    1. Fosters deeper processing,
    2. Results in students performing better on conceptual questions,
    3. Allows students to better process the information and
    4. Encourages the student to reframe the information in their own words.

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

by Pam A. Mueller, Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, University of California, Los Angeles, The Academy for Psychological Science Journal, Psychological Science June 2014 vol. 25 no. 6 1159-1168*


Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

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* All data and materials have been made publicly available via Open Science Framework and can be accessed at The complete Open Practices Disclosure for this article can be found at This article has received badges for Open Data and Open Materials. More information about the Open Practices badges can be found at and