Thoughts on Paper Notes

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Someone I take to be a recent-ish graduate puts forth thoughts about paper note-taking, prompted by the project of scanning in old notes and other materials from college.

The post opens in part with the following disclaimer:

I realize there are entire online cultures of journaling and notetaking and notebook-buying, and I'm not here to compete with them. This is just what I do.
The advice is very different from much of what I have encountered, but I found it well-considered and superior in certain ways to those cultures.

I think the bullet points on preferring loose-leaf paper to notebooks are exemplary, because you get reasons along with the advice, which often contrasts with such standard fare as Use a Moleskine:
  • You can hand a single sheet to someone.
  • Graph paper, good. Bound notebook, bad... (Image by Glenn Carstens-Peters, via Unsplash, license.)
    You can rewrite a sheet later and put it back in the same order, instead of keeping or tearing out the bad copy.
  • Easier to cross reference a previous day without flipping back and forth. [This is because each page is dated at the top. --ed]
  • Easier to integrate with other material: pages you receive, homework you submit and get back.
  • Easier to purchase the same or equivalent paper over the course of years, rather than developing an eclectic assortment of different notebooks or, worse, a brand dependency.
  • Easier to scan.
Coupled with the advice to use a standard size of paper and using a printer to create lines or a custom grid, it's easy to see how this can make keeping a notebook on paper and making an electronic archive much easier -- and less annoying to those of us who hate ending up with different paper sizes and other inconsistencies.

The post is much more interesting than I expected it to be, and is replete with examples from the scanned-in notes.

The next time I need to take paper notes I am likely to want to archive, I will be trying much of this advice.

-- CAV

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