April 6, 2021, by Agnes

Digital Note-Keeping

When I began my degree, I was really jealous of the people in lectures who would take notes on their tablets and annotate PDFs with ease. Most of these tablets are really expensive and, coming from a working-class background, I couldn’t afford one and I even thought that they are just not worth the large sum.

So, I spent my entire first year taking notes the old-fashioned way; on paper. I got through countless notebooks of lecture notes, exercises and past papers and often struggled to keep them organised. I had a system but it was inefficient and slow to navigate. 

Reusable notebook

My first switch was to digital note-keeping but not note-taking. As an avid environmentalist, it felt wrong getting through so much paper so I was delighted to receive a Rocketbook notebook for my birthday. It’s a reusable notebook! No more wasted paper; I hand-wrote my notes, scanned them with my phone, erased my notes and got to do it all over again. My initial system was a hierarchy of folders on Google Drive which worked well for a while, until it became really difficult to keep up, with the volume of PDF files being uploaded.

Wacom tablet

When I started second year, I began my role as a PASS (Peer Assisted Study Support) Leader at the height of the second COVID wave. This meant I had to figure out how to deliver sessions digitally – this called for a Wacom tablet. Although the school promised to provide us with them for the role, I figured I’d love to have my own anyway and they’re not really expensive so I went and bought one. As I began getting used to writing digitally, I figured it won’t hurt to write my notes that way too.


I fell in love with OneNote. I know it might not be the best note-taking platform out there, but it’s accessible from any device, lets me export my notes as PDF files, lets me insert worksheets and annotate them – what more could I want? I’m a massive fan of both digital note-taking and digital note-keeping, especially when it’s stored externally and can be accessed on all of my devices. 

To me, the advantage that OneNote has over Google Drive for storing notes is that OneNote feels a lot more like a notebook with lots of dividers. I have a section for each module I take and within those sections, I have other sections for lecture notes, problem classes, coursework etc. If I want to take a screen break, I can always return to my Rocketbook and upload a PDF of my handwritten notes into my OneNote!

A few months ago I was lucky enough to have been gifted an iPad for Christmas and although there are plenty of great note-taking apps in the app store, I still use OneNote for everything.

I suppose what I’m saying is that you can digitise your notes even on a small budget with little saving up and I really recommend it.

Look out for my next post in which I’ll share some tips on how to get started organising your notes on OneNote!

I hope you’re having a lovely Easter break!

Posted in Agnes