How to Efficiently Type and Draw School Notes on the iPad

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iPad note taking for school using Notability! How to use Notability to type and draw school notes on the iPad. Notability allows you to easily resize your handwriting, pictures, and type your school notes.

To take college notes on my iPad, I use the Notability app, the iPad Pro, apple pencil, and an external keyboard. You can follow the same steps using the app GoodNotes, ZoomNotes, and Metamoji. Android and Windows users try the app Xodo, Metamoji, and EzPDF.

Note-Taking Tutorials:

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How to Type School Notes on the iPad

1. Open the Notability app

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2. Create a new note.

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3. The best way to take notes on the iPad is to have a ruled or graph paper. In the top right of the screen, click on the drawing tool > paper > graph

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I personally prefer the small graph paper and that’s the one I’m going to use on this tutorial.

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4. Click on the title of the paper to change it. Make sure the title is some related to the class and to the current notes you are taking
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5. If you need to type a note anywhere on the page: click on the “T” text icon > keep your finger on the screen for a couple of seconds until you see the “+text box” option.
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Use the margins/edges of the box to resize it.
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If you need to add special symbols on your notes, I recommend the app SciKey. You have the option to customize the keyboard (see image below). On this picture, you can see that  I customized the keyboard for my physics class.
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6. Color code your note’s subheadings. On the image below: yellow is for the main titles and green is for subtitles.
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If you record the lecture along with your notes, you can play them back and see them like a movie on the screen.

7.  If you are serious about taking notes digitally, I highly recommend an external keyboard. It doesn’t have to be expensive. The one on this picture cost me about $25 (it was refurbished and I have been using it for 2 years).

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A mistake I often see during my lectures is that students draw everything on their tablets, wrong! Type the questions or notes. Use the drawing option for things like graphs, formulas, and/or illustrations that can’t be typed.

8. An advantage of using an external keyboard is that you can type your notes and have the SciKey keyboard on the screen. You can also hide it by clicking the keyboard key on the external keyboard (eject key in the Apple Keyboard).
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How to Draw School Notes on the iPad

Below is a quick video of how I draw my notes on the iPad.
  • Don’t put to much pressure on the pencil. To create thick lines put more pressure on the screen and to create thin lines put less pressure on the screen
  • Zoom in to write neatly along the graph lines.
  • Use the graph paper as a reference to draw graphs and images proportionally.
  • Don’t draw too small or you won’t be able to see the drawings when zooming out or printing the notes. Use the lasso tool to make your drawing bigger and to change the width of the drawings.
  • To make a straight line or any shape, draw a line and keep the pencil on the screen for a couple of seconds.
9. If you need to rotate, resize, or move a drawing. Use the lasso tool > select the drawing > use your fingers to rotate the drawing.
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Here is an example of how I rotated the drawing. You can rotate the drawing 360° and resize it at the same time.
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How to Save Your School Notes

10. Once you are happy with your notes, you can change the paper pattern from graph to blank and save the PDF file to a cloud folder. I personally prefer Dropbox as it syncs faster and has more options.
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When you choose a folder to save your document, you will see several options. If you recorded the lecture along with your notes, you can export both of them. You can also export the graph paper or any paper pattern you used.
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This how my school notes look like on my computer when I change the paper from a graph to a blank paper and I export it to my Dropbox folder.

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I hope this simple and quick tutorial taught how to use the Notability app to type and draw school notes on the iPad. Remember that it takes practice and patience to learn to take and draw notes on the iPad.

If you want to learn about digital planners and bullet journaling, you can join my Facebook group. Readers from all over the world share their bullet journal layouts and digital layouts. It’s amazing to see and learn from other people that share a common interest.

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10 Comments

  1. This might just be the best link I’ve ever clicked on from pinterest! It combines all the things I want in class notes into one. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Definitely subscribing.

  2. Really great article!
    What’s the difference if I don’t have the Apple Pencil (but I have notability)? Thanks!