Pros & Cons of Manual and Electronic Reading and Journaling

When you go to Braums and order a hot caramel sundae, the person scooping your ice cream will ask if you want whipped cream and a cherry. The only acceptable answer is, “Yes, please,” because you want both. Whipped cream is delicious, and so are maraschino cherries, but one could never substitute for the other.

When choosing to read and journal manually or electronically, the only proper answer is, “Yes, please,” because both provide various benefits.

Electronic Reading (on a device)

Portability – You can read on devices you regularly travel with (phone, tablet, e-reader).

Capacity – You can store or readily access hundreds of books and periodicals on an electronic device.

Immersive experience – You can block out the world by listening to your reading material through headphones, and many devices allow you to take notes and follow links directly in the interface.

Eye strain – Prolonged exposure to the light from electronic devices can cause eyestrain.

Battery life – You must charge an electronic device, eventually.

Manual Reading (physical material)

Retain information – You retain information better while reading physical material, because you’re engaging more of your senses.

Sensory experience – The feel and smell of books lure many like a siren song.

Eye strain – You experience less eye fatigue when reading physical material.

Portability – You can tote a book with you just about anywhere, but it’s not as convenient as a phone.

Capacity – Books take up a lot of space, so you can’t bring along an entire library everywhere you go.

I like to read on my phone if I’m catching up on news articles or reading something that doesn’t require my full focus. I will read on my Kindle or laptop if I’m reading something that requires more brain power. I do most of my device reading during the day. At night, I read a physical book as part of my bedtime routine.


  • Comprehension and recall – You process information more deeply during the physical act of writing, so it’s easier to understand and remember what you’ve written.
  • Freedom – You can ignore formatting boundaries when you write longhand, enabling you to sketch, doodle, and live outside the lines.
  • Avoid distractions – You are less likely to face distractions when you aren’t on a device with notifications vying for your attention.
  • Time-consuming – It often takes longer to handwrite something than it does to type it.
  • Fatigue – You may not be used to writing longhand, and you can grow tired and experience cramping as you build up your handwriting muscles.
  • Penmanship – You have to write in a way that you can read what you’ve written at a later time.
  • Cumbersome – You have to plan to write on the go, if your preferred method includes ensuring you have paper and pen at hand.


  • Fast – If you are a touch typist, typing is fast.
  • Comfort – You probably spend a lot of time at a keyboard or keypad, so typing may not feel as tiring as handwriting.
  • Formatting – You can easily format text you have typed.
  • Security – You can back up your journal to ensure you don’t lose any content, and if you’re using an online journaling app, you can even add increased security features to keep others locked out of your private world.
  • Legible – Your typed page is easy to read.
  • Distractions – You can lose your train of thought when typing on a device.

If I have a lot on my mind, I’ll type, because I can get down the information quickly. If I’m wrestling with a concept, I’ll write longhand, because it gives me the mental space and sensory stimulation to cogitate.

I begin a typical day reading my bible app on my phone, then reading from my physical bible and journaling in a physical notebook. I’ll catch up on news and events on my phone, then begin my day. During the day I read articles on my phone and laptop. And as inspiration strikes, I’ll write on post-its then move to my online journal to record my breakthroughs. In late afternoon or early evening, I’ll write again in my online journal. About 45 minutes before bed, I put away my electronics and pull out a physical book. For both reading and journaling, however, I’ll use the most convenient platform to serve my needs in the moment. More important to me than the platform is my readiness to read or journal when need and opportunity arise.

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early access to upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Published by Roshaunda D. Cade

I am an educator, writer, and creator. I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband and teenage children and enjoy reading, writing, dancing, and pushing my creative boundaries.

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