You might be struggling to save your data and evaluate your progression over time, if you don't have an engineering notebook. The greatest scientists and mathematicians use engineering journals for the best possible outcome. When you are using a notebook in your college and for your professional projects, it necessarily means that you're keen on success. You're striving for a great outcome.
So, having an engineering notebook will not only help you to achieve a better outcome, but it'll also demonstrate you as a 'success-striver.'
Today, we have brought you a list of the 11 best engineering notebooks for this year. All of them are not equally perfect for all engineering and scientific projects. They vary in their features and specifications significantly.
To get your ideal engineering notebook, I would like to invite you to go through our in-detailed reviews and buyers guide.
So, let's dive into the topic!
BookFactory Engineering Notebook
5 out of 5
Mead Spiral Notebook
5 out of 5
Engineering Notebook: Graph Paper Notebook
4.5 out of 5
Enki Engineering Spiral Notebook
4.5 out of 5
BookFactory Computation Engineering Notebook
4.5 out of 5
Importance of an Engineering Journal
In this segment, I will discuss the importance of keeping an engineering journal. Having researched in such companies as Boeing, Lockheed and having consulted for many more engineering firms, I was always amazed at how many engineers actively used and maintained an engineering journal or notebook.
I was equally surprised at how many new or recent graduates had little or no understanding of how to use an engineering notebook or gem or journal. To help correct this problem in new engineering graduates, I ask that them choose either a digital or manual process for keeping an engineering journal or notebook.
I personally believe, it is still easier to use a manual or paper-based journal. However, each semester, there are a few students who try the digital approach and by the end of the semester tell me, they wish they had not.
The choice is yours. But remember, I recommend the manual or paper-based approach. Journals come in mini form- spiral brown softback, hardback, and even leather.
I recommend a journal that is eight-and-a-half by 11 inches or 210 by 297 millimeters.
Pages should be numbered. The journal should have either lined or engineering paper. If you need an isometric graph, log, or any other type of paper, you can purchase a few sheets and either glue or staple these pages into your journal.
So the actual engineering journal or notebook is not that special other than it has numbered pages and may have special paper.
In the practice of engineering, new ideas are discovered, problems are solved. And assignments are taken at any random moment or hour of the day.
The role of the engineering journal or notebook is to capture these discoveries, solutions, and assignments.
If it is an original idea, then the journal becomes the record the lawyer will reference when preparing the patent document and associated materials. Engineers put their best discoveries, their most difficult challenges, and their day-to-day activities in their notebooks, concluding the day with a date and a signature.
From time to time, they will have an associate read their journal and date and countersign it.
So what do I expect you to put in your engineering notebook? I would expect you to fill it with sketches, both orthographic and pictorial, showing improvement week to week. I would expect that you would have lots of notes from your textbook reading, video lecture viewing, and watching specific CAD tutorials.
Your notebook is a good place to paste in examples of assignments. Keeping a record of what you have turned in and when. I have found that my notebook gets filled up with unanswered questions, and these become the roadmap for my personal study and research.
Planning is another thing I recommend that you capture in your notebook. Students who try modeling in a CAD system without a plan generally take twice or three times as long as someone who has spent a little time planning their approach to modeling.
Finally, the journal or notebook is an ideal place for you to record how much time and how consistent you are with such things as textbook reading, watching lectures and tutorials, planning, and CAD modeling.
Our Best 11 Best Engineering Notebook of 2021
From hundreds of options, we have enlisted only 11 engineering notebooks to make your task easy—no worries of being perplexed here. Read them out carefully and pick your one.
1. BookFactory Engineering Notebook
Our very first product comes from the famous brand BookFactory. They have been in this business for a long time. What they are really renowned for is their minimalistic design with the utmost quality.
If you are someone who wants an engineering notebook that looks simple and affordable yet will be very effective, this is the product you're looking for. This is what exactly it is famous for.
It is black covered. No fancy design or colorings- Just stumped with 'Engineering Notebook' at the top of the notebook. Well, what of the quality of the cover? It is simply archival quality. The black imitation cover protects the inside part of the notebook from any sort of unexpected situation. It will be sufficient to protect the notebook from rain, sun, or any given weather.
But what I like most about the item is its page. It is made from top-notch paper. The manufacturer claims to provide the best quality paper on the market at the moment. I don't agree or oppose the statement, yet this is really something great to write over. It is thick, nicely ruled. You can use any type of pen on paper. The ink doesn't bleed or show through unless it is the wettest fountain pen.
Notably, the engineering notebook comes with 84 sheets or 168 pages. They all are acid-free paper and of archival quality. And needless to say, it won't get yellowed over time or smear the ink in the paper.
The notebook is especially great for scale drawings (plans and sections). It will help you to make tables and block architectural printing.
In summary, if you want to record your efforts and work for a long time, this notebook might help you to do that. Moreover, it is amazingly organized to let you find you anything out.
- Great paper quality (acid-free)
- Smyth sewn hardbound notebook
- Tamper-evident archival quality
- 8" x 10" page dimension;
- 'User Data' and 'Documentation Guidelines' pages included
2. Mead Spiral Notebook
For some buyers, the best product is which strikes between quality and affordability. Mead Spiral Notebook is exactly what intersects the two of these qualities. It is highly affordable and incredibly effective as well.
This is an amazing solution for all your engineering notes. The notebook is especially suitable for engineering students even though it is quite handy for any subject that includes graphing. The manufacturer advises using the notebook for one particular subject.
One of the primary advantages of having this notebook is that it is a spiral-bound notebook. You can lay it flat 180-degree. That means there is no problem drawing or pointing lines on both pages. Honestly, there are some sewed notebooks that really cause some discomforts while writing on the other side of the paper (the reverse side). Fortunately, you don't have to worry about that this time.
If the lines or squares aren't ruled ideally, then it becomes really tough to work with that notebook or journal. In this case, it is designed 5 squares per inch for taking plenty of notes without facing any problem at all.
One thing that the manufacturer might give sincere attention is its page thickness. I don't oppose its entire quality as the pen glides smoothly over the paper, no issue with the ball pens at all, yet when you write with gel pen, though it doesn't bleed through instantly, over time, it does. So this is where the manufacturer should focus on. If it would be slightly thicker, then no one could raise a question mark about the notebook.
In summary, the spiral notebook doesn't tear and resists uncoiling to keep the notes together. The green-coated cover has a good name for its durability. So overall, at this price, this is something really incredible. I highly recommend this notebook for anyone who is on budget.
- Suitable to use for one subject
- .20inch square (5 squares per inch)
- 3-whole punched storage for keeping all your work organized in one place
- Strong spiral binding resists uncoiling and keeps your notes altogether
- It is highly affordable
3. Engineering Notebook: Graph Paper Notebook
The Graph paper notebook is from Engineering Humor is a durable notebook that lasts all year long. Guaranteed.
The quad ruled pages are undoubtedly great for all engineering students and professionals as well. Generally, engineers are enriched by sense of humor and intellectuals; I don't know why. This notebook is designed in such a way that it will be sufficient for you to take notes, record progress, and write some intellectual words as well.
One of the advantages of having this notebook is that you can choose the notebook cover by numbers. Meaning, you can customize the cover according to your personality and preference.
But what I like most about the engineering notebook is the way it is organized. Let me rephrase the sentence. How well the pages and all other stuff are organized amazed me the most. Let me give you an example. You open up the notebook; the first page is the info page—any kind of information you can store there. And the next few pages are for a table of contents for the rest of the pages. And then you get to have some actual graph pages in the engineer's notebook.
It comes with 113 pages. Page quality is quite decent- Not that thick but fairly enough to write with ballpoint colored pen. But if you are about to use gel pens or gelly roll pens, it may bleed through the page.
What's more? Each page has a place for date and signature. That shows how effective and suitable it would be even if you want to use it for your official purposes.
Last of all, this notebook is mostly used by the students. If you want to use it for your official purpose, let it be yours without any hesitation. 8x10 inch notebook with matte finish cover cream pages does really a good job for you.
- Suitable for students, engineers as well
- Available in a variety of colors
- Great for the price
- Beautifully organized and easy to use
- You can use it for taking notes, drawing, and keeping intellectual words
4. Enki Engineering Spiral Notebook
Here comes our first product from the renowned brand Enki Engineering. Despite being present in the market for a short time, they have earned a good name for their product quality and customer service. They are one of the most users' friendly brands on the market right now. We'll find out together, what and how.
This is a pure USA-made notebook. Without a doubt, it certifies and strengthens the quality of this engineering notebook. It may sound a bit odd to someone, yet the fact is quite true. If we take hundreds of examples of those that are made of the USA, we'll barely find any of them that falls short of quality. So, I'm not hesitant to say that it is the USA made product that testifies itself as being good.
First and foremost, this is a spiral-bound notebook. It comes with 200 pages/100 sheets. The manufacturer designed it with a 3-hole punch micro-perforated system that ensures a tight paper crammed into notepads and backpacks.
One of the most attractive parts of this notebook is its heavyweight covers. It looks beautiful and protects sheets inside well. Moreover, Enki Engineering provides good quality paper that not only makes sure bleed-free experience but also keeps your record protected for a long time.
There are some types of paper that don't bleed show through instantly but over time. But with this quality of paper from Enki Engineering, hopefully, you don't have to experience it.
Finally, in a few words, this engineering notebook is well accepted for its top-quality pages and heavyweight cover. On the flip side, it provides a good amount of 200 pages, but they are smaller than other notebook page sizes on the market. So, if you don't have any issue with the smaller size of pages, then I highly recommend this notebook for your engineering purposes.
- Smooth well-finished thicker pages than average notebook paper
- The twin-wire binding technology
- Heavyweight cover with simple design
- Great for the price
- Made in USA
5. BookFactory Computation Engineering Notebook
Let's get the classy engineering notebook of BookFactory. This spiral notebook will help you to record and protect your projects for a long time.
The engineering notebook contains 100 pages. The pages are thick enough to write both sides of the pages. The sheets measured 9 1/4" X 11 3/4"—ideal for students and professionals. The perfect size spiral notebook can easily be carried in your backpack.
The papers are made of using top-notch material- Smooth finish. The pen glides effortlessly over the paper. The pages are thick enough to resist ink bleed and show through. You can use multicolor pens to record your data. Be it a glass dip pen, ballpoint pen, or any other pen; the writing will be clear and bleed-free.
The sturdy spiral binding keeps your journals and sheets in place for the rest of the life. The wire-O bound is super durable. It is lay-flat 180-degree- No problem writing both sides of the page.
But what I like most about the product is its cover. The cover is made of plastic on both sides. It is sturdy enough to protect your paper inside—no worries about being watered or tempered at all. So surely, it will give you an extra advantage when you carry the notebook in a jammed briefcase.
Now, this is a computation engineering notebook. The name itself can be confusing to some of you. The question may arise, what's the difference between an engineering notebook and a computation notebook? Well, the only difference between them is in their cover depictions. Except for this one, all other stuff is the same including page format.
- Sturdy plastic covers protect your data inside
- Decent page quality
- You can write with any pen except the wettest fountain ink
- Keep the record of every aspect of your project
- Suitable for student and professional as well
6. BookFactory Professional Engineering Notebook
What is the most prominent brand in the notebook industry? Well, I'm not certifying a particular brand yet for the last few years, BookFactory comes at the top of the pile for sure. And no wonder this is the 3rd product from BookFactory in this engineering notebook list.
People prefer this notebook brand because of its uniqueness in design and top-notch product quality. One more interesting fact to notice here, BookFactory launched this product in 2018. Since then, they have sold so many units of the product and achieved a higher ranking in amazon laboratory notebooks. No need to go that far; if you just look into some customer reviews on Amazon, it will be enough to develop an idea about the brand.
One of the finest parts of this notebook is its archival quality pages. As I have said many times before, if your page quality isn't good enough, then there is no point in buying that product. No matter it is a hardcover notebook or a traveler's notebook, page quality is a must.
The notebook contains 96 pages or 48 sheets. All the pages are tamper-evident and acid-free. Have you ever noticed notebook papers get yellowed over time? Not just notebook paper, it could be any paper kind of paper. Have you? Probability much that you have. Actually, many of us did experience this experience in our childhood. The main reason behind this is acidic paper.
When acid is used in the paper, it will certainly help you to achieve some temporary goals. Meaning, it enhances the quality of the paper for a while, yet in the long run, it will get yellowed, and the ink starts bleeding and smearing through and over the page. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about that matter this time. You can record and protect your data for a long period of time without getting yellowed or smudged over the paper.
The faux leather cover is stamped with 'Engineering Notebook' at the top of its body. It lies flat and causes no problem writing on both sides of the sheets. The ruled pages come with 8" x 10" dimension.
Last but not the least, this USA made engineering notebook is one of the best possible options in the market, no doubt. But one thing the manufacturer should focus on is its page quantity. Nowadays, 48 sheets or just 96 pages are not sufficient for a professional. Except this, this is certainly a great engineering notebook to have in your bag.
- .25inch square (4 squares per inch)
- Made in USA
- Available in 5 colors (red, green, black, blue, and burgundy)
- It lies completely flat (Smyth sewn)
- Thicker pages than other notebooks
7. Engineering Notebook (Grid Format Quad Ruled)
An affordable solution for all your engineering projects. Engineering humor publishing notebooks are equally great for students and professionals as well. This is a multipurpose notebook. You can comfortably record all your data, including all the numbers, drawings, etc. Shortly, we'll discuss in details, what's more in it.
This is a personalized professional-grade lab notebook. Without a doubt, this is great for the students. Don't get confused here. Though the manufacturer claims it to be a student's notebook, it performs quite well for the professionals as well. So if you're in need of recording data, drawing graphs, or stuff like these, you can pick the engineering notebook.
One of the advantages of having this notebook is, you can write both sides of the sheet. The page quality is good enough to resist show through and smudging over the paper. Though, I don't suggest you using any wet-ink fountain pen. Moreover, it comes with cream pages. You know, something really smooth, and the pen glides over it pretty softly.
The matte cover notebook comes with a layout of 8" x 10". It contains 113 pages.
But what I like most about the product is its versatility and variation among pages. It offers date block and signature, table of contents, sequentially numbered pages, etc. This certainly makes this notebook more reliable and easy to use.
What's more? Are you choosy? Love to have things in your favorite colors? Let it be here. It is available in different colors and designs. You can match your engineering notebook according to your personality and preference as well.
- It offers matte cover and cream pages
- Great for recording data, drawing graphs etc.
- It is highly affordable
- Witness signature and date blocks
- Suitable for students and professionals
8. RayLineDo Engineering Notebook
If you are a fan of simple solid colors, then the engineering notebook from RayLineDo is for you. The notebook comes in solid brown color with a minimalistic design. This is a six-pack engineering notebook. You will find out shortly, what it has to offer.
This is our 8th notebook on this list. So far, this brand of notebook offers the highest quality of pages. You may ask, how? It provides the 80gsm kraft paper. There are only few brands for engineering notebook that provides more than 80gsm pages. Moreover, this is not just a matter of higher gsm, yet the pages are made of top-notch Ivory white virgin pulp paper.
The pen glides over the paper very smoothly. If you want to record your data for a long period of time, then this will be one of the best engineering notebooks for your purposes. I said 'purposes' because this is a multipurpose notebook. You can write, draw, and even save your intellectual thoughts in it.
When it comes to the grid dimension of an engineering notebook, you cannot leave it unchecked. This is so important varying on your project type. Fortunately, this notebook has a 5MM squared grid, which is ideal for almost every application of it.
One thing the manufacturer should focus on is, its page quantity. No question about the page quality but the quantity. This is obvious that someone buys an engineering notebook for his or her academic or professional use; he/she wants it to serve for at least a few months. But unfortunately, this notebook contains only 38 sheets or 76 pages. If you are okay with the page quantity, then this would be a great choice, no doubt.
- Ideal square grid dimension of 5MM
- Suitable for both academic and professional purposes
- It offers the 80gsm kraft paper
- This is a six-pack engineering notebook
- Great for the price
9. Grid+Bound Engineering Notebook
Looking for an all-in-one solution for all your engineering projects? Let it be stopped here because you have found your one. Grid+Bound notebook is famous for its well-extended features and some exclusive offerings. Need a kangaroo pocket for your loose papers? Well, you'll have!
There are two types of notebooks from this particular brand. Both are the same in features and specifications except page numbers. One is with 100 sheets, and another one contains plenty of 200 sheets. Now let's talk about the quality following the quantity.
Probably, page quality is the best attribute of this notebook. This notebook papers will allow you to write with any pen of any color. (Footnote: consider avoiding the wet fountain pen.)
One of the prime advantages of having this notebook is, you can record your data here and stay relaxed for decades. Because the pages don't get yellowed over time, and the ink doesn't smear over the pages.
What's more? The strong spiral binding ensures the utmost safety and protection of your notes. Your pages will remain there where they should be.
The dimension of a notebook is crucial, especially for someone who works outside the home. In this case, it is perfect for carrying in your daily bag, travel bag, or work bag.
Appearance does matter. Isn't it? The manufacturer seems to provide a top-quality cover that will resist your notes from any unwanted crumpling and rips. Moreover, as it looks so classy and elegant, you can randomly go outside with it.
Now, what about having a kangaroo pocket in your engineering notebook? Yes, you'll have. This pocket can really be handy and convenient for someone who takes notes on loose paper here and there. I don't oppose taking notes everywhere, yet taking it on a random piece of paper might cost you sometimes. Meaning, it gets tough to store and organize properly. Therefore, if you have a kangaroo pocket in the back of your notebook, it will be easy for you to store these kinds of stuff there.
Last, but not the least, Grid+Bound donates its 10% into STEM program in the un-resourced area. So, you can be a proud part of that family by simply using their product.
- Durable spiral binding replaces flimsy glue-top
- High-quality cover to protect your notes and prevents crumpling and rips
- It supports STEM programs
- Suitable for any types of pen except wet fountain pen
- It offers a kangaroo pocket
- Made from recyclable materials
10. Engineering Humor Publishing Engineering Notebook
This is a notebook to quickly record your data. The standard size notebook from engineering humor publishing is first available in 2018. Since then, they have been providing quality notebooks all around the world.
The notebook contains 113 pages. The quality of its paper is good. It comes with a dimension of 8 x 0.29 x 10 inches, which is convenient to carry with any type of personal and professional bag.
If you are someone who doesn't like to carry different bags for different purposes, then this would be the ideal choice for you. You can store and illustrate all your engineering data in this notebook.
What I like most about the notebook is, its versatility. Along with its normal notebook pages, you will get a table of contents page, sequential page numbering, signature and date blocks, researcher, etc. This is a complete engineering notebook per se. It will make your tasks a lot easier.
This professional-grade lab notebook is widely accepted among the students and professionals as well. You cannot go wrong by picking one from Engineering Humor Publishing. They are meant to provide the best engineering notebook in this era.
The notebook is available in different types of covers. You can choose your notebook cover according to your preference and taste. The matte cover itself measures 8x10.
What's more? It offers high-quality cream pages. The pen will glide smoothly over the page. Anything you write on the paper will look like a flower blooming on the water. Yet to be convinced?
- It measures 8x10 with a matte cover and cream page
- Exceptionally reliable and easy to use
- Great for essential notes, drawings, and intellectual properties
- It is highly affordable
- High-quality pages to write with any pen
11. Refillable Engineering Grid Writing Journal- Fanery Sue Store
The A5 engineering notebook from Fanery Sue Store arrived in the market last year. Without a doubt, this one of the best engineering journals right at this moment. This is a complete solution for all science and math students.
This is a multipurpose notebook. You can write, draw, illustrate, record data in one place. It doesn't look fancy or that colorful- One color notebook cover engraved with a tree of life pattern.
However, the notebook is available in multiple colors including, black, coffee, grey, etc.
What I like most about the notebook is its refill system. Honestly, I was looking for a refillable engineering notebook. But for some reason, I couldn't find any. Fortunately, this one came last year. This is obvious that I want to cherish my most favorite notebook for a long. If it is not refillable, then? No worries now, we have found our one.
The notebook comes with 100 sheets or 200 pages.
When it comes to page quality, this one is head and shoulders above the rest of the engineering notebook. It offers 100gsm pages. This is rare, very rare in these notebooks. The thick pages allow you to write with any type of pens you want. The manufacturer claims that the paper is suitable for fountain pens too. No bleeding or show through on the page.
The pages are slightly yellow to protect your eyesight. The 4mm grid square pages are great for diagrams, mock-ups, etc.
What about the notebook cover? It is made of faux leather. It is hard enough to protect your notes inside yet feels soft in the hand. Moreover, it has magnetic buckle closure that ensures your works are safe and protected for years.
Finally, it has a strong binding that ensures your pages don't fall. In addition, the notebook lays flat 180-degree so that you can write and draw without facing any problem at all. I highly recommend this engineering graph notebook for all science and math students. You won't regret buying this gold one.
- 4MM grid graph pages; perfect for engineers and designers
- 100gsm ink-proof thick paper (100 sheets/200 pages)
- It is refillable
- Strong sewn binding secures your works and data for a lifetime
- Durable Velet faux leather cover and magnetic buckle closure
- Ribbon bookmark and rounded corner
Things to Consider Before Buying an Engineering Notebook
So, the new semester starts in a few days, or you're having a new project on the town, and you need an engineering notebook. But with so many options available on the market, you cannot come to a decision on which one to get. This is okay to be confused. No worries.
Your perfect engineering notebook solely depends on what your notebook is for and what you'll do with it. Meaning, you cannot judge a grid squared notebook for your illustrations. So, I would recommend you to fix your application first, and then consider these below factors.
The best engineering notebooks come in various paper sizes. Some of them provide 8x10 inches, while others provide 5.3x8.6 inches. So, this obviously a positive sign. You don't have to adopt, which is not for you.
In addition, especially for the engineering notebook, grid format is really important. It also comes in different sizes. It starts from 4mm grid square and goes about 6mm grid square. All are suitable for all their respective application.
Page quality and quantity
Page quality is more important than page quantity. Yet, in some cases, you can consider the page quantity as well. In the case of an engineering notebook, it is quite okay to go with between 60 to 100gsm pages. Let me explain the reason.
When you are using a daily notebook journal, you might be thinking of using a fountain pen or a fancy ruling pen, but when you record your data of a particular project, possibility less that you may need to use a heavy pen. So, regardless of what you use in a daily notebook, it is okay to use just slightly thicker pages than average.
And it is obvious that you pick a notebook yourself and want to cherish it for some time. Though, this is a personal preference. If you don't like to use a particular notebook for a long time, then you can go for a 50page notebook. Otherwise, you should go at least with a 100pages notebook. And luckily, some brands, such as Fanery Sue Store, come up with refillable engineering notebooks. Meaning, you can refill the journal or insert inside of it and use it for a long time.
It is a 'third-subject' as it also comes at number three. Meaning, for an engineering notebook, there is nothing much to do with its cover. Most of the brands overlook this criterion. As it is more of a matter of effectiveness and the job done successfully, appearance doesn't play a big role here. So again, it is a personal choice. In terms of longevity and durability, the faux leather cover stays on top.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are few commonly asked questions that might help you using an engineering notebook.
1. Question: Why should you keep a journal?
Answer: First, it is what real engineers do. Second, it becomes a quick reference to the video lectures and tutorials. Third, it is your executive summary to your textbook. Fourth, it becomes a physical record of your sketching progress and improvement. And fifth, it is a backup or record of what you have submitted.
2. Question: How to take notes in class?
Answer: How to take notes in order to understand and apply the material learned in class?
While taking notes digitally works for some people, I prefer to take notes on paper, using a separate notebook for each subject. When your lecture begins, start by writing down the date and the lecture number, in order to refer back to it if needed. Color-code your titles as well, using a separate color for a lecture, a tutorial, review, and homework, so you can easily find what you're looking for when you're flipping through your notebook.
Many of the students like to jot down any key elements of what the professor is saying in class, including examples, definitions, and formulas. They also write down their own thoughts and connections with other material of what they've learned in other classes, which allows them to better understand what they're learning.
You can also have a color-coding system that will allow you to really distinguish the examples from the definitions and the really important points of what you write down.
After class and as a part of your studying, you should summarize your notes in the form of mind maps. This is a technique that I learned in high school that I find really helpful for me to visualize the concepts and how they relate to each other.
It also helps you not get too overwhelmed by the amount of material you need to know for your midterm and your final, and you'll be really able to visualize it all on one page. The key here is to break up the unit you're studying into smaller topics, and then relate ideas and key points as a part of these topics.
I also like to color code these mind maps, so I can really visualize the difference between the examples on the page, definitions, and more.
This is all about the note-taking process that helped a lot of us. You can follow these techniques that allowed me to use my time efficiently, which is super important, especially in engineering, yet always remember, this is not something constant. It worked for me doesn't mean that it certainly will work for you.
These may or may not work for you, as everyone learns differently.
3. Question: Handwriting Vs. Typing Notes- Which is Best and Why?
Answer: Now let's talk about the science of note-taking. This is a very common question, better saying confusion.
The first point I want to touch on is whether or not you should even take notes. To take or not to take.
We've all had that professor who tells us to not take notes during a lecture, and to just sit and actively listen. Well, studies by Kiewra and Rahmani both demonstrate that students who take notes, either from lectures or from reading their textbook, perform better compared to students who don't take notes.
So they suggest that taking notes helps form new pathways in the brain that are beneficial for long-term memory. And interestingly, the study by Nye and Crooks showed that the quantity of notes the student takes also correlated with better results on both multiple choice and essay tests.
But I would take that with a grain of salt because it's hard to compare the quality of notes from someone who takes a lot, versus someone who doesn't take very many.
And this is the general theme of this popular question answer. That you can't just take all the research at face value because note taking varies from person to person, and depends on many factors.
For example, what kind of subject are we talking about? Is it Math or Science or is it History? Some are heavy on concepts and some have a lot more facts to memorize.
Another example is the professor. Some professors give you their own notes.
Some professors give you Power Points. Some professors give you half completed notes, and have you worked to fill in the rest. And finally, some students are just better at taking notes than others. So these are all factors that we can't control.
And so the research isn't always clear cut. I would argue, that there isn't one absolute best way to take notes but there are ways to optimize note-taking to fit your personal needs. To do this, we have to define how notes actually fit into our study plan.
Note taking consists of two steps. Step one, is actually taking the notes. And step two, is using the notes to study.
Step one is important because taking notes while listening to a lecture can really improve your comprehension or understanding of the information, regardless of whether you actually review those notes.
But step two is equally important because having good notes to study from will make it easier to commit them to memory later.
So now that we understand the bigger picture of note taking, let's answer this question; what is the best device to use when taking notes?
You got the traditional handwritten notes with pen and paper. You got digital notes on a tablet or iPad with a stylus. And you got digital notes typed on a keyboard. There've been tons of studies going back and forth on whether you should hand write your notes or type your notes.
The study by Mueller and Oppenheimer showed that handwriting was better. But the study by Bui and Fiorella showed that typing your notes were better. A study by Morehead and Dunlosky even distinguished handwritten on paper versus handwritten digital notes. And the results showed not much difference.
Well, unfortunately, each study has its limitations as pointed out by Luo and Kiewra, showing us how difficult it really is to determine a true winner. But in this study, they made a very important point. That notes can be effective based on whether or not you actually review them. And this is key because remember that taking notes during lecture helps you understand the material.
But having good notes after lecture makes studying easier. So right off the bat, I would personally go for pen and paper.
The obvious reason is that it's convenient using paper and notebooks to remember lessons.
When your hold a pen or a pencil in your hand and write over the paper, it sends a positive signal in your brain.
One of the biggest problems with using technology in the classroom, is that you are prone to distractions from the internet and social media.
The other big disadvantage is that many students fall into the trap of just typing out what the professor is saying verbatim. This is passive learning, and you aren't processing the information.
And it mainly happens to students who haven't decided on a note taking method.
There is no one single best choice. However, I personally prefer pen and paper as it takes more your effort and attention.
Long story short, there is no one best engineering notebook. Best or worst depends on your task and application. First and foremost, determine what type of application you want to accomplish and what type of a notebook is needed for that. And then approach accordingly. This will make your task a lot easier. Good luck!