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Tips for Digital Note Taking in College

I’ve always been a pen and paper girl, but when classes went online at the beginning of 2020, I started to explore the digital note taking world a little more. All my class materials were delivered digitally, so it was a lot easier to keep everything digital rather than printing every chapter of notes, powerpoint, outline, homework, etc. And by digital note taking, I mean using an iPad, Apple Pencil, and an app; not just typing on a computer! I think there’s something really beneficial in actually writing your notes that helps you remember the material. 

Even though I still prefer taking notes on real paper, I found that there are a lot of pros to taking digital notes (especially when classes are online!).  In this post, I’m sharing the pros of digital note taking, tips for taking notes on your iPad, and the tools you’ll need if you decide to make the shift! 



1. Light Backpack! 

It’s SO nice to only need your iPad and Apple Pencil in class (and maybe your planner if you haven’t been able to give up a physical planner like me!). When all my class materials are digital, I don’t have to worry about forgetting a notebook or my favorite pens — as long as I have my iPad with me I’m good! I can even throw it into a purse instead of carrying a backpack, which makes me feel more mature too 😉

2. Searchable notes

Do you ever remember writing something down but you can’t find where it is in your notes?!! One of my favorite GoodNotes features is the search tool. You can search key word in your notes, and GoodNotes can even read your handwriting! It’s also incredibly handy if you ever have an open-note exam. 

3. Can make notes “perfect” 

Ever since middle school, I’ve always enjoyed making my notes “pretty.” I have a *small* obsession with colored pens, highlighters, markers, etc. — I always have more than enough, but somehow could always use more! With digital note taking, the options are ENDLESS. If you enjoy being creative and artsy like me, you’ll quickly become obsessed with color-coding your GoodNotes, designing cute headings, and aligning everything perfectly. If I’m in class scribbling information down, I can have peace of mind that I can go back later to make it look pretty and don’t have to waste any paper in the process! I also tell myself it counts as studying, so I guess that helps too (lol!).

4. Easy to organize & access

GoodNotes lets your organize your notes and other class materials into folders. It also has an outline feature within a notebook. This feature gives you the option to select and title page within your notes to add to your outline for quick and easy access. For example, I would add the first page of notes for each chapter so that each chapter title showed up in my outline, and I could quickly navigate my notes. You can also view all the pages in your notes at once if you need to quickly flip back to a page. Here is an inside look to what the app looks like: 

For content-heavy classes that require a lot of note taking, the outline feature (third picture) becomes especially valuable!! Need to flip back and forth between chapter 3 and chapter 10? If they are added to your outline, you’ll have no problem (you can also open two documents and split your screen which is a great feature too!).

5. Can include screenshots and scanned documents to include all your class materials 

I LOVE this. I used to really hate online text books, but once I purchased an iPad and switched to Digital note taking, I started to prefer digital textbooks too. When I’m reading a chapter on my iPad, I can take a quick screenshot of a chart, important vocab, or graph and then insert it straight into my notes. You can also split your screen so that you can view both your textbook and your notes. So easy!!!

6. Can import documents and add them to your notes 

Some of my professors create their own outlines/notes or PowerPoints for them the class. In GoodNotes, you can import documents and then write directly on them. You can even insert a document within your notebook, which is perfect if you have a single handout you want to in your notes. Or you can scan documents if you’re only provided with a hard copy.


After a few months of taking notes on my iPad, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make digital note taking easier. And suitably, I wrote them down in GoodNotes!



I have the “regular” iPad 7th generation. I would imagine an iPad Pro would be a little nicer for digital note taking, but mine had worked just fine. I also really love this iPad case from amazon! It has a spot for your Apple Pencil and works great. 

Apple Pencil

So there are currently two Apple Pencil generations; I have the older one, but I’d recommend getting the second generation if you have the choice. It has a flatter side, which makes it easier to grip, and a double tap feature that acts as an” undo” (or erase) tool.

GoodNotes is the best digital note-taking tool in my opinion! I’ve looked into other popular apps (like Notability and OneNote, which is free), but I really like the features and organization of GoodNotes. But I would suggest checking out all your options to see what works best for you 🙂 

If you’re a pen-and-paper note taker, I hope this insight inspires you to look into taking notes digitally! And if you’re already hooked on digital note taking, I hope these tips were helpful 🙂 and check out my “notes too good” pinterest board for more! comment below if you have any other tips, suggestions, or things you like about taking notes digitally! 

much love, 

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