Notetaking is hard! The good news is there are tools to help make note-taking easier and more accurate.
The note-taking tool that you choose will depend on your preferred learning style and whether you are taking notes at school, work, for a course, meetings, or conferences. Several studies have found that handwriting your notes helps you to remember the notes better than you would if you type them.

There are notetaking pens and apps that record audio notes, convert handwritten text to digital text, and save handwritten notes to the cloud. Any iPad 6th generation and later is compatible with Apple pencil, Logitech crayon, or other third-party pens or pencils in the Notes app or notetaking apps that you find in the App Store.

Notetaking Tools:


OneNote is a product of Microsoft and is available on PC, Mac, iPad. It is FREE with Office 365
-This app has the same Ribbon Tool Bar as Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. If you are used to using these tools, OneNote integrates nicely.
-There is a feature to record, but it is an audio clip so it is not recording simultaneously while taking notes.

To learn more: OneNote

Audio Note 2

Audio Note 2 is available on Mac OS, IOS, and Android  with a Subscription. You can get a 30-day free trial.
-Type or handwrite notes and sync them with recordings.
-Import PDF slides and add your notes directly on the slides. Simply tap to playback the recorded audio.
-Share notes to your choice of cloud storage.
-Great for meetings, lectures, and conferences.

To learn more: Audio Note 2


Notability is available on Mac, IOS, and iPad OS only.
-Paid– one time with some in-app purchases
-Record a lecture simultaneously matching your audio to your handwritten or typed notes
-File organization and color-coding
-There is also a feature (in-app purchase) to convert your handwritten notes to digital including math recognition.
-You can import PDFs, PowerPoint, Word Docs, images, photos, and more to annotate.

To learn more: Notability


GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes 5 is available on Mac, IOS, and iPad OS only. Paid – one time purchase.
– Many of the same features as Notability
-Take handwritten or typed notes
-Import PDFs, PowerPoint, Word Docs, images, photos, and more to annotate.
-All notes are searchable including handwritten notes.
-The only feature missing is the ability to record audio and sync to your handwritten notes.
-Download the app from the Apple app store and get the Mac app at no additional cost.

To learn more:  GoodNotes 5

Livescribe Smartpens

Livescribe Smartpen – Features:
– Digitizes your handwritten notes and records audio simultaneously.
-Write your notes and listen back to the lecture by tapping the note in your notebook.
-A SmartPen relieves the pressure of notetaking knowing that you can always listen back.
-All Livescribe pens require the use of special notepaper to enable the notes to be played back.

Here are the models currently available:

Echo Pen – Features:
-Tap back on your notes in the notebook, and they will be played back on the pen speaker.
-The notes can also be downloaded onto your computer into the Livescribe app. On the app, you will see the notes and any audio that is connected to the notes.

To learn more: Echo Pen

Aegir and Symphony Pen – Features:
-Notes are written in the Livescribe Notebook while the audio is recorded using Bluetooth on a device such as an iPad, iPhone, or Android tablet or phone.
-The notes are played back on the Livescribe App

To learn more: Aegir or Symphony Pen

Otter Voice Meeting Notes (Audio Recording)

Otter Voice meeting Notes is a Web and  mobile app
Free and Premium subscription
-This app records audio without the user doing any writing. The notes are transcribed into the app.
-Perfect for work meetings or interviews allowing you to be present in the moment.
-The app separates speakers and time stamps when the speaker changes.
-You can quickly highlight sentences as the app is recording.
-Otter offers a free trial. The free account allows for 600 minutes of recording per month.

To learn more: Otter Voice Meeting Notes

Glean (Meeting Audio Recording)

Glean is a web and mobile app that requires a Subscription.
-Records audio while you add tags such as important, review, etc. or add a small note.
– Import slides that have been provided to you and annotate the slides.
-Notes can be recorded offline and synced later.
-The idea of this is to actively listen and not worry about taking notes.
-Audio and notes are saved in the cloud.

To learn more:

Sketchnoting or Visual Notetaking

Sketchnoting or Visual Notetaking:
If you are someone who often includes sketches and images while you are taking notes you may want to learn more about this visual and kinesthetic way of taking notes.
There is not a right or wrong way to sketchnote; however you want to customize your notes so that sketched images are placed on the page in an organized way

Here are a few of the many books written on the topic:
– ‘Sketchnoting in the Classroom’,  by Nichole Carter. Although it is written for use in a classroom setting, it is also in a workbook format, so it is great for practicing sketchnoting techniques.
-‘The Sketchnoting Handbook’, by Mike Rohde; for meetings and events.

If you are interested in Sketchnoting or Visual Notetaking, search the topic in any browser to learn more. This website is a good starting point: Sketchnoting 101