Recording or Note Taking, Which is Better?

Depending on what line of business you are in, some people prefer note taking while others chose recording. Then there are those who do both, but what works best and why?

A good old fashioned notebook and a pen have been used effectively for years, although use of these tools started when nothing else was available.

There is no doubt, recording is more accurate as it captures everything, not only parts, and it is an account of what happened, not what you think happened.

That said, the answer is not that simple.

Which works best depends on the type of work, the personal preferences and the situation.

Below are a few pros and cons of both recording and note taking.

Note Taking


  1. Pen and paper do not fail, and even if a pen no longer works, another is easy to carry or borrow
  2. Notebooks and pens are cheap to buy
  3. You can note facial expressions and gestures that a recording misses
  4. Not everyone is happy to be recorded, this is especially true in an interview situation
  5. You can make a note of things to clarify or questions to ask as the meeting/interview progresses


  1. You cannot write down everything said
  2. Noting exact, word-for-word accurate quotes is just about impossible
  3. Notes will have to be typed, or at least written better later on, and sometimes what you wrote is illegible and you are missing a vital part – or, as sometimes happens, you read a note, but remember it happening in a different way. Which is true? There is no way of knowing, so that part is virtually unusable
  4. If more than one person is speaking it can become nearly impossible to write it all down
  5. As you write you are concentrating much less on what is being said
  6. If there are any queries about the accuracy of your findings, it is hard to prove you are right from only your notes
  7. You will get only a part of the spoken word noted down
  8. You have no time to write hesitations or other signs, which could indicate reluctance in answering



  1. Using a recording device, makes it easy to converted audio to text using a transcription service, (such as Singapore Transcription). This saves a lot of time
  2. Recording allows you to capture everything said, word-for-word
  3. If the subject matter is technical or filled with numbers and statistics, it is important to have a record of them all, and the only sure way to do this is to record it
  4. By recording you are free to observe body language and even note it down, as well as being able to concentrate fully on that was said
  5. You can build a better relationship with the other people present if you are able to maintain eye contact, rather than having your head bent to write
  6. A recording protects you against allegations about the accuracy of what was said
  7. There are no hastily written notes to decipher and re-write later on
  8. A transcription provides you with a Word document, which makes it easy to search for any reference to a particular subject
  9. If there are multiple speakers, a recording should let you hear what each person said, and a transcription will show when a speaker changes.
  10. There are no errors in a recording


  1. Recorders can malfunction and batteries die, leaving you with no record, but if you check everything before beginning, this is unlikely
  2. A noise, (a passing car for instance), can cover a key detail being explained
  3. Some people are not willing to be recorded

A compromise could be the answer; record the meeting, interview etc., but also take a few basic notes. You can focus on the speaker much more than if you are not recording, but also have a backup in case the recording is faulty in some way.

If you wish converting your audio to text, then we at Singapore Transcription are happy to help you.