Best way to take class notes?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sbrocket, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Sbrocket macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2007
    I'm planning on using the OmniOutliner app that came bundled with my MacBook Pro to take basic class notes plus Maple 11 for math-related equations and such. This is going to be new to me since it will be my first year using a laptop regularly with classes (freshmen in Aerospace Engineering). Does anyone with first-hand experience taking class notes recommend other methods (digital pen, etc etc) other than this?
  2. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    With regular notes, I just use Textedit, but with math notes I always use a pen/pencil and paper.
  3. Sbrocket thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2007
    So do you later scan those math notes in and store them in, say, PDF format so your notes aren't spread out over multiple mediums?
  4. valiar macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2006
    Washington, DC
    Taking notes on a computer is... Hard. Very much so.
    You will end up missing a lot of stuff - and the benefits of neatness and search-ability will thus be moot.
    Use regular paper and scan/photograph it if you want it in your computer.
    Or use a digital pen like Logitch io2 or the new Mac-semi-compatible Maxell pen.
  5. iBookG4user macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    No, I have a binder that I store them in and it just stays in my school bag when I'm not studying. I don't find it that inconvenient, if I was studying math on my MacBook Pro, I'd be tempted to stray away from my notes a lot more than if the computer is across the room.

    Well, as long as it's just writing and no math I find it A LOT easier to take notes on my MacBook Pro. Especially because I'm not that fast at writing, but a very fast typist.
  6. ozontheroad macrumors 6502


    Aug 4, 2006
    the reef
    Word (office mac 2004) has "notebook layout" which is great for taking notes as it also allows you to record sound at the same time.
  7. Sbrocket thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2007
    I don't understand how you miss less of a lecture writing when typing is faster. Personally I'm a perfectionist so I write really, really slow; no ugly shorthand scrawl that I have to go back later and correct for me. Plus searching ability, organization, neatness, and redundancy are all real benefits that I can't see a reason for simply brushing away as useless.

    I was looking at the digital pens, but I still don't see how they can be any faster than typing your notes.
  8. maikuuni macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2007
    Word(notebook layout) works great for taking just notes. I found it difficult to insert diagrams or math equations.:( Pen/Pencil and paper are the best.
  9. tango554 macrumors member

    May 6, 2007
    Why don't you just try both? See which you like better.
  10. Erasmus macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    Hiding from Omnius in Australia
    As a student doing Aeronautical Engineering right now (I'm half way through second year) I guarantee you that it is best to use a pen and paper. You won't be doing much writing. You will be doing a lot of writing equations, and drawing graphs and diagrams.

    Then, if you want, spend the time to copy it into your computer later, as you go through it. Or just use the MBP to do assignments, SolidWorks and Matlab work on.
  11. j26 macrumors 65832


    Mar 30, 2005
    OmniOutliner is great for taking notes in a class where you move from one discrete topic to another, especially something like law where you can put detailed case notes on a lower level and then shrink them up for a handy revision summary when exam time comes. Since you're doing engineering, this may not be as much use to you.

    The bugger is where someone asks you for notes for a particular lecture (and they will) - exporting to a format that a Windows person can use never turns out neatly for me.
  12. jamesi macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2005
    Davis CA
    inky black pen on yellow legal pad. i feel like i remember it if i write it, and it doesnt work that way for me with typing
  13. Angrist macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2005
    MI or NJ
    As a Mechanical Engineering PhD student ..... I can tell you that my experience has been to avoid the computer for notetaking.

    In more detail,
    Classes with a lot of math / diagrams are almost impossible to keep up with on a laptop. A simple legal pad or notebook and pens are the way to go (2+ colors sometimes helps as well). Although ... One method that I've seen for these types of classes that appears to have a lot of potential is the digital camera. You can sit there and listen to the lecture, jot down any really important points, then just snap a photo of the equations and such. The issue with this is that you really need to either print them all or transcribe ... which you should probably do anyway.

    That being said, for classes like english, philosophy, or history (stuff with no math) then just typing away in textedit or textmate works really well.
  14. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    I agree with the others here that for engineering notes it is tough to use a computer. Look at the equations and diagrams in bernoulli's principle in the attached link and try to imagine typing any of that.'s_principle

    This is a foundational equation of fluid flow and one you will become very familiar with as an aerospace engineer.

    Good Luck
  15. Sbrocket thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2007
    That's what I figured the answer would be. Thanks for the tips guys!
  16. nicofernando1 macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2011
    curio :)

    i would definitely go with curio on this one. it has note taking, chart, and drawing capabilities, making it the closest thing out there to a virtual notebook. you can also sync evernote with it
  17. Velin macrumors 65816


    Jul 23, 2008
    Hearst Castle
    This is one area where Microsoft wins. Its Onenote program is the best, including digital handwriting, drag-and-drop clipping, handwriting-to-typewritten text conversion that works, excellent organization as well.

    Onenote plus a tablet and digital pen = true digital writing, a joy to use, great for organization.

    Apple needs to release something better than Onenote, it will be a great seller. They did it with Keynote (better than Powerpoint).
  18. ratzzo macrumors 6502a


    Apr 20, 2011
    I am studying something related to Aeroscience and you are better off writing down your stuff.
  19. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    I agree. In fact I like the whole OneNote+TabletPC solution so much Im currently on my 4th(!) tablet PC (I've been using them since 2003 - and have been entirely digital for class notes since 2008 - ie Since I started the UK equivalent of 11th Grade). (Im a CS and Math major, so take a lot of Math notes - there is nothing better for equations than pen+paper/stylus+OneNote)
  20. brendu macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2009
    I always thought I would use a laptop to take notes in college/grad school but always found it simpler and more efficient to just use spiral notebooks and bic pens. Sometimes simpler is better (for me anyways). Good luck with the engineering!
  21. macking104 macrumors 6502


    Jan 14, 2003
    California, USA
    For notes taking, think of what is in the textbooks: a Shakespeare play is text, a physics or math book has diagrams and formulas... What's easier to type?

    Another idea, take paper notes so you can scribble graphs, and use a voice recorder so you can review the lecture later if necessary. When yo type in the notes, you'll probably remember things the prof said that you forgot to write down...

    One of these portable scanners could be an asset if you have to do a lot of library research, or need to copy notes and charts... They have OCR...

    Both available online and at office supply stores...

    Don't forget, there are tutorials online (iTunes) on note taking/study techniques. Also practice note taking both ways using those free iTunes University classes...
  22. TheGenerous, Jul 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

    TheGenerous macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    I'm an Austronaut
    If you want to use the computer exclusively learn latex.

    If you just want to score straight A's do pencil and paper.

    However, textedit or evernote may be helpful.

    EDIT: I did grad school in physics
  23. noodleyhead macrumors member


    Jun 29, 2011
    Sesame Street
    Personally, I use evernote and microsoft office with dropbox or sugar sync.
    Evernote is great, it lets you create separate notebooks and lets you search notes, and theres a iphone app that syncs all my notes from my phone and laptop all together.
    I'm sure you know what dropbox is.
    And SugarSync is just an alternative to dropbox which can be a little bit more convenient sometimes.
    I dont know much about omnioutliner, so it might be similar to evernote.
    Its a good combination for me, so if you wanna try it out it might work for you too.
    For math I just use pen and paper but Maple 11 might be a good replacement if you dont want to carry around loose notes.
    personally, for graphing on my computer i just use the grapher application that comes with all macs, but if you already have maple 11, that would probably be better.
  24. JeffHendr macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Independence, MO
    I took notes exclusively on my PowerBook for the last two years of my undergraduate degree, using Microsoft Word, a Logitech USB drawing pad and Apple's built-in Ink program. When taking notes on concepts/ideas, I rapidly typed everything. When instructors switched over to diagrams and formulas, I used the drawing pad, and clicked on "paste" (inserted the drawing directly into Word, in-line with the text) as soon as I needed a new page or it was time to switch over to typing again. After a day or two of getting used to it (trying it out to see if it was even worth it), it worked very well, and I could rapidly switch back and forth without hesitation.

    Unfortunately, I did run into one significant challenge. Occasionally, the computer bogged down when hitting the paste button--I'd have to wait for the OS X "spinning beach ball" to do its thing before I was able to start typing or drawing again, and the instructor was still moving ahead full speed. I don't know if this is still an issue with the faster MacBook Pros, seven years later--if the computers are better able to handle the pasting/switching without bogging down, I'd say digital notes are better. If they're not, it's kind of a toss up--great benefits but stressful to know that your computer may leave you hanging at any moment.

    As far as compatibility to share notes with Windows users--just save your notes as a PDF--looks the same on any computer.
  25. sumone, Jul 31, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011

    sumone macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2011
    Wow 2007! I wonder who/why some one dug this up. By now this person should have graduated from college. I'd like an update on how it went, lol.

    But for future students I would go for just pencil & paper for note taking, nothing beats it in my opinion (especially for math/science majors) but if you want to go digital just scan the notes and save it on the computer.

Share This Page