A person sat on the grass with a notebook on their lap, writing.

September 1, 2023, by Aisia Lea

What is the Best Way to Take Notes at Uni?

You might have found yourself wondering what the best way is to take notes during your lectures. Should you keep the same methods that you had in high school and sixth form? Is an iPad better? What app should you use? This blog post is going to detail all of the ways that you may wish to use whilst you’re at uni. It’s also important to note that the way you take notes may change as you progress through the course, and that’s okay! Make sure to be open to trailing new methods to see what works for you. What worked for you previously may not work for the content you’ll encounter at university.

Method 1: Paper Notes

Plain and simple, taking notes by hand is something that we’re all familiar with. After coming from A-level exams where everything was done via pen and paper, it can feel comforting to pick up the notepad in your first lecture. Taking notes on paper can be really helpful if you need to annotate things or draw diagrams, but it may not be as fast as typing on a computer. Another drawback of paper notes is that they take up space – I started off with paper notes in first year but quickly found that they were taking up too much room in my living space. They also aren’t backed up anywhere – a spilt glass of water could ruin a year’s worth of work.

There is always the option to handwrite your notes and then upload them to OneDrive. Many phones have ways to scan documents and email them to yourself directly or convert them to text. You can also review your notes at a later point and type up the salient points later on.

Method 2: Handwritten Notes

If you like the feel of handwritten notes but you want them available digitally, then you may benefit from something called the Rocketbook, where you can write your notes down, and then scan them to upload them to a device of your choosing. You can then clean and reuse the page. If you’d fancy something like an iPad, but want the feel of writing on paper, you can get a screen protector for your iPad that feels like paper. For this, however, you’ll need to have an iPad that is compatible with an Apple pen. There’s also the option to take notes on your iPad without the paperfeel screen protector, too. If you don’t want an iPad, there are laptops that you can get that have touchscreens and can act as a tablet, too.

Method 3: Typed Notes

For me, this is my personal favourite method of note-taking. I can do it quickly and have it autosave to my OneDrive as I go. Some people choose to make notes in the notes section of PowerPoint slides too. There are two methods of typing up notes. The first, and most obvious, is by typing up your notes onto your laptop, and there are a variety of apps you can use to do this (which I will cover below), or via your iPad. You can purchase a Bluetooth keyboard to use alongside your iPad so that it acts similarly to a mini laptop. Typed notes can be quicker than handwritten and take up no physical space (except on the cloud). You need to make sure that you back up your notes – don’t just save them onto a USB-stick, because if this corrupts, all your work is lost!

What are Some Note-Taking Apps?

  • Apple Notes App: simple and easy to use on your iPad or iPhone. You can also take notes offline and they will save locally to your device, uploading to iCloud when you’re connected to the internet.
  • Microsoft One Note: available to you through your university subscription to Microsoft Office. It allows you to create multiple virtual notebooks for different modules.
  • Evernote: allows you to integrate notes with pictures and audio.
  • Google Keep: Google’s note-taking app that comes free with all of the other Google applications (Docs, Sheets, and Slides).
  • Notion: a very popular application at the moment, not just for note-taking, but also for overall organisation of your life!
Posted in #WeAreUoNAisia