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  • Avery H.

Handwriting vs Typing: What's the Big Deal?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

It’s a classic argument: Tradition versus progress, analog versus digital, how things were back in the day versus how things are now. Handwriting, versus typing. Whether you’re scrawling out notes or practicing calligraphy, whether you’re grinding out digital homework or typing up the next great American novel, handwriting and typing have advantages and disadvantages that are ingrained in our very own minds. Regardless, it’s always been a hot topic— but who is really right? What are those advantages?

Tutors from the Lane Tech Writing Center were unable to come to a conclusion. When 20 tutors were surveyed for their opinion on writing methods, the data came to an even 50/50 split— 10 preferred handwriting, 10 preferred typing. When asked to elaborate on their choice, the surveyed individuals largely agreed with their cohorts: Typing is for speed, convenience, and ease. Handwriting is for connection, emotion, and thoughtfulness. The conclusion that the Writing Center came to is as simple as it is frustrating: it’s up to personal preference. Regardless, this survey showed one key point in the battle between typing and handwriting— They’re good for different things.

Christopher Bergland of Psychology Today agrees: His analysis of modern studies shows a clear link between handwriting and learning, for one simple reason (as well as a whole lot of complicated ones.) Handwriting uses more brain per word. When you’re typing, your brain is focused on the words, on the spelling, on the wrote movement from key to key— while this can be really helpful if you’re demanding precision and speed, such as when you’re typing an essay or other piece of writing, it’s less useful when you want to learn the material. This is because handwriting activates your sensory and motor (or sensorimotor, if you’re fancy) abilities, in turn meaning your brain is more “turned on” than it is when typing. The more on your brain is, the more brain you use, the easier you learn.

It’s inarguable that typing has its benefits: The speed and ease with which you can communicate information is extraordinarily valuable, and can help you write easier than ever. However, one should never forget the value of handwriting.

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