Whether you’re a writer by profession or a student, most of the time you are required to write something. Writers and students use writing tools to make a concrete version of their ideas. However, people may have different ways of putting their thoughts on the paper.
For thousands of years, people rely solely on traditional writing tools such as pencils and ballpoint pens.
But in recent years, modern technological advancement changes almost everything including the writing process.
Most people, including professional writers and students, now are relying on computers. They input their ideas directly on the laptop or even smartphones.
Both traditional and modern process of writing has strengths and weaknesses. But most studies argued that longhand writing is more effective than typing.
The Benefits of Writing by Hand vs. Typing
One of the benefits of handwriting is that it is easier to spot an error on the draft. After you set aside your document, errors would surface making them noticeable to your eyes.
Writing by hand gives you a better understanding of the concept or idea you’re writing.
For instance, a study conducted by Daniel Oppenheimer and Paul Mueller suggests that students who jot down notes using paper and pen had a better understanding of the subject matter than those who use a computer.
Handwriting also gives you freedom over the entire page. You can freely write your important ideas on any part of the paper without worrying about the margins.
Most people, including me, achieve more creativity when writing by hand vs. typing. My mind seems to work smoothly while writing using a pen than striking a keyboard of a computer.
Writing by hand also allows a writer to make initial corrections while transforming the manuscript from handwritten to an electronic copy. Therefore, the first editing happens during the transcription process.
The Benefits of Typing vs. Handwriting
One of the benefits of typing is that it will be easier to edit and retype. Because it is electronically stored, any proceeding modification or alteration may cause nothing on the document.
Hitting a keyboard is far easier than striking a pen on a paper. The latter process would take years especially for children to master. In addition, a computerized copy of a transcript is easier to read than those written by hand.
Lastly, if you typed your documents on a computer, you can find many tools online to help you edit your work. Spotting the errors in your document is even easier than before. This is not possible in traditional paper and pencil writing.
However, scientific studies had drawn the significant differences between writing by hand vs. typing.
The Benefits of Writing Longhand
The number of people who use the computer in writing is increasing. One study (a British survey) found that many people don’t use traditional writing strategies anymore.
We cannot blame those people. This is because typing on a computer is much simpler than manually writing an idea onto a paper. Most of the writers believe that an idea is like a butterfly. If you don’t catch it when you see it, it will vanish. Writing on a computer screen allows a writer to grasp and hold the idea fast and efficient.
However, a body of research over the years found fascinating findings. The previous studies had shown the benefits of traditional writing strategy on human cognition. Here are some of the most forgotten benefits of longhand writing.
1. Longhand writing allows you to think faster
If you are deciding which is better between the two (writing by hand vs. writing), you probably need an enticing piece of evidence. Here’s one of the proofs. The New York Times report shows that handwriting helps children gain better educational development.
“Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information.”
2. Longhand writing boosts memory
The notion that traditional writing has more benefits over typing has proven by several studies. One of the most well-known research was done by Mueller and Oppenheimer.
During the course of their study, the researchers tested student participants’ memory recall and conceptual understanding.
The conclusion was:
“Those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.”
3. Longhand writing improves creativity
Many authors prefer to write using pen and paper for one common reason – longhand writing improves creativity. “Paper allows much greater graphic freedom: you can write on either side, keep to set margins or not, superimpose lines or distort them. There is nothing to make you follow a set pattern. It has three dimensions too, so it can be folded, cut out, stapled or glued,” said Claire Bustarret, an expert on codex manuscripts at the Maurice Halbwachs in Paris.
4. Longhand writing minimizes distraction
Longhand writing allows you to focus on the idea you want to write. Writing on a paper minimizes distraction. The reason why most students have difficulties in finishing their research paper is that of the accessible social media. It is easy to get distracted when you are connected to the internet.
Longhand writing can also be beneficial in attaining emotional calmness. Dr. Marc Seifer, a graphologist, and author said that “Jotting down a sentence like, ‘I will be more peaceful’ at least 20 times per day can actually have an impact, especially on those with attention deficit disorder.”
Writing by Hand vs. Typing Notes in College
Although science finds interesting finding on writing processes, it still difficult to decide overwriting by hand vs. typing. Everyone is different and all of us deal with things differently.
Scientific findings to have contrasting suggestions. Some researchers found that writing longhand is more beneficial than typing. While others suggest the opposite.
The majority of studies recommend manual writing over typing. As found in those studies, writing on a paper (jotting down notes during a class discussion) is effective in storing the information.
Writing down notes manually initiates cognitive functioning making the brain active. Activation in brain cortices creates a better neural connection that will hold the newly learned information. The stronger the neural connection, the better the storage of the information. This means that you will easily remember what you have studied.
However, a few studies suggest that writing notes manually could actually result in the opposite outcome. The study suggests that when jotting down notes using pen and paper, the brain will deliberately forget the newly learned information.
This is because, the brain would unconsciously believe that once an idea is written, it is safe to forget and easy to go back later.
Although the previous study did not directly examine this assumption, it is the most viable explanation the researchers could provide.
So which do you prefer? Of course, the answer to this question relies solely on your personal preference. Some people are more effective and creative when using pen and paper. While others aren’t. Any comparison or imposition of one’s own way of writing may be inappropriate.
Although scientific findings propose a seemingly valid argument, your decision should jive with your personal attributes when it comes to writing. If you think you’re more effective with longhand writing, go for it. Otherwise, use a computer or typing.
Our personal preference though is longhand writing. We write faster and more efficient when using the traditional pen and paper. But of course, it is our personal choice. Decide which is better for you; writing by hand vs. typing.