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Digital Note Taking 101

Updated: May 5, 2022

Effective note-taking is a crucial study skill, but it doesn't always involve pen and paper. There are numerous digital note-taking apps that you can use on your computer or tablet. Here I share some tips to help you get started.


Going paperless is great for the environment.

You have the option to type information or hand write using a stylus.

Access all your digital notebooks in one place.

Easily format your notes, make corrections, and rearrange information in your notes.

Additional functionality like importing and annotating files, images and diagrams.


Not cost-effective. Requires access to a laptop, computer or tablet.

Stylus required to take handwritten notes although typing is always an option.

If you want to sync your notes or export, you may need an internet connection.


There are many note-taking apps out there, but my top two are Microsoft OneNote and GoodNotes (for iPad).

Microsoft OneNote is free to download. I use this on my laptop and iPad, and my notes automatically sync up as long as I am connected to the internet. OneNote is really easy to use and has a lot of functionalities! I like to import lecture notes and annotate directly over them. You can also insert audio and video files, to-do lists, files, and Excel spreadsheets. You can create several notebooks and organize your notes in different sections or section groups.

GoodNotes is available in the Apple App Store, but it is not free to download. GoodNotes has become my go-to note-taking app when I want to hand write information. You can create different notebooks and import files and photos. It is really easy to browse through your notes, organize them and add new pages or sections. You can also personalize your digital notebook covers (you can download free ones here).

Below you can see a sample from one of my GoodNotes notebooks!


You can use the same note-taking methods as you would if you were using pen and paper. For example, the Cornell Method is great for taking notes during and after lecture.

The great thing about digital note-taking is that there are numerous templates available online. You can simply import them into your note-taking app. Access my free note-taking templated by clicking here.

Want to learn more about note-taking skills? See the Note Taking section of my website.

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