I'm in a discussion about the relative advantages of taking notes by typing or by handwriting. However, in the context of the discussion, both typing and handwriting notes have advantages over only verbalizing the information. So, I'm looking for a word that encompasses both handwriting and typing when referring to those latter advantages so that I can use "writing" to refer solely to the act of handwriting.

For context, here's part of the text from the discussion. Currently, "writing" sometimes refers to both "handwriting" and "typing" and sometimes just to handwriting. I've included notes in []

When you write [ed: handwrite and type], you’re bringing multiple brain processes to bear on your task. You’re using muscle memory in forming the words, other memories to spell them correctly. Or even just to shape the letters correctly [applies only to handwriting]. You’re summarizing information by choosing key words – which keeps your thinking going. When you write [handwrite and type] something down, you also don’t have to keep it in active memory

  • 6
    Writing encompasses all means of making visual symbols for language, whether by hand or machine. The fact that you have to use a compound noun to specify typewriting or handwriting shows that writing is the general word. Jul 12, 2022 at 23:39
  • @JohnLawler, I think you are correct that writing covers both, as in writing this response to you, I'm obviously typing it. But I still have a sense, perhaps idiosyncratically, that "writing", without context, has a slight flavor of "handwriting." So, I think of "writing", particularly in the passage I quoted above, as slightly ambiguous. Perhaps my question would be better phrased as a word other than writing that encompasses both handwriting and typing.
    – Derek
    Jul 13, 2022 at 0:58
  • You might consider "scribing".
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 13, 2022 at 1:33
  • Or textualize. M-W :" to put into text : set down as concrete and unchanging". Jul 13, 2022 at 2:58

2 Answers 2


In this context, note taking fits the bill best. Nowadays, note taking can be either done with typing or by writing by hand.

In your context, you're contrasting taking notes (by whatever method) vs. listening passively, so you should emphasize the note taking itself.

By the way, note taking can include symbols and simple pictures. So drawing can be part of note taking.

Writing as DialFrost proposed is not as clear as note taking. Writing is usually a creative process, but in your context, we just want to capture some of the ideas of the speaker. Also, the listener [reader] might not realize that you don't care whether the writing involves handwriting or typing. A listener might assume you mean one or the other.


writing should work, as it is a very broad term.

According to lexico:

  1. The activity or occupation of composing text for publication.
    ‘she made a decent living from writing’

  2. Written work, especially with regard to its style or quality.
    ‘the writing is straightforward and accessible’

  3. writings Books, stories, or other written works.
    ‘the writings of Gertrude Stein’

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    I'ma a bit torn for the moment. This is clearly the write answer, but I can't understand why it was needed.
    – Conrado
    Jul 13, 2022 at 0:13
  • @Conrado Yes, perhaps it was a silly question, as if someone tells me, "I'm going to write up the notes from our meeting," I'm going to expect a typed document, not a handwritten one. Yet, "writing" still has a slight connotation of handwriting for me, and I think some of the definitions of writing suggest that it has that connotation for others too. From the link in the answer, definition 1.2 of writing is "Handwriting," and when I Google writing, the first definition I'm served is "the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text"
    – Derek
    Jul 13, 2022 at 0:41

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