Digital Note-Taking Tips for Dental Student Success

Posted by Amy Carbone on Dec 23, 2020 9:00:00 AM

When it comes to dental school, note-taking is a must. However, with the way countless classes have suddenly moved to a digital format, many students are having to take digital notes. 

Practice your digital note-taking with our tips for aspiring dentists finding themselves in an online learning environment for perhaps the first time. 


Which is Better? Digital or Written Note Taking?

Before delving deeper into note-taking tips, it’s important to consider the benefits or drawbacks of digital versus handwritten note-taking. 

While most people can type faster than they write, making the digital variety more advantageous from a volume aspect, there has been research proving that writing out information helps your memory retention even though it might be a slower process. 

You tend to remember information you write down more than information you type.

This insight was discovered during a series of studies that tested the accuracy of how people remembered vocabulary words when they wrote them out compared to when they typed them into a computer. 

A similar study revealed that students who took lecture notes by hand often performed better in subsequent tests when compared with students who only took notes on their computer.

However, as mentioned above, as classes move onto digital platforms, note-taking must follow.

Also, as you move from undergrad to dental school, you may find the volume of notes you have to take increases exponentially. 

This makes speed a necessary aspect of note-taking, which means even if you previously took notes via notepad and pen, now you might need to move to a digital version. 

Once you make this move, it’s important to get the most out of your digital notes, especially since they may not be as naturally beneficial as taking handwritten notes. 

Digital Note-Taking Tips for Dental Students

Hybrid Method

If you just aren’t sold on the digital method of note-taking, perhaps you can ease yourself into the digital world a bit by using a program like Apple Pencil or Notability for PDFs. 

Then, you can type out your recorded lecture with a Bluetooth keyboard. This technology incorporates a wide variety of modalities into note-taking. 

It combines the technology of a helpful note-taking app with the act of typing out your lecture. Of course, you can also take hand-written notes with this information if you want to create a true hybrid method.

Using Apps 

In the previous section, we mentioned the app Notability. This, along with other apps like Evernote, Good Notes, Apple’s Notes, Google Docs and others let you take notes right on your device and then access them later, either on the same or another device. 

This is great for micro-moments when you are trying to study on the go. Keep in mind, many of these apps allow you to switch between typing or writing with a stylus and allow you to mark up a PDF. 

Also, there are apps that give you the option of importing PDFs or slides so you can review it again later.


Just as you would with written notes, it’s important to keep your digital notes well organized so you can find anything you need, quickly. Many of the apps mentioned above come with folder features that allow you to do just that. 

Make sure you categorize your notes well. Don’t just label them using the date, because you might forget which date a specific lecture took place. Instead, aim to organize them based on various other factors, like subject matter. 

You can add the date too, but just make sure whatever label you choose, it’s something you can then easily recall later when you are studying.


Finally, the last tip for digital note-taking in your post-graduate classes is to ensure you save all your digital notes. 

After all, it does you no good to take even the most meticulous notes if you lose them due to a computer and/or phone crash or accident. A good idea is to store all your notes on the cloud or a USB drive. 

While it might not be necessary to back up this information daily, make sure you do it frequently, especially after a particularly important lecture.

Preparing for Life after Dental School

Dental school is one of the many crucial steps you take in establishing your career. 

But life after dental school is much different than life in it. 

So what can you expect from life after graduation?

Learn some of the most important things you should know about life after dental school with our Post-Dental School Survival Guide.

Learn More about Life after Dental School

Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, LLC.

Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel, LLC.

This content is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice. 


Topics: Dental School Tips