Training - Print

Can Printed Training Manuals Enhance Learning Retention?

Insights Can Printed Training Manuals Enhance Learning Retention?

There are so many online resources and tools for training that many regard the printed training manual as dead – too slow, too expensive – but not so fast. Whilst digital resources have many advantages, one should not overlook the way print can contribute to enhanced learning comprehension and retention. Printed training manuals can positively impact the learning process, and they remain a valuable tool for effective training. So let’s examine some of the issues:

Reduced Distractions

Whether the training is self or instructor led, digital suffers from a curse. Once the laptop or tablet is open the temptation to wander off to examine notifications, emails and other applications is overwhelming. The ‘I will just check this web site’ ability, gives the potential of falling down the digital rabbit hole. The printed training manual offers a focused learning environment, free from the temptations and interruptions of the digital world. Candidates can immerse themselves in the content without the potential distractions that may hinder learning.


Many trainers believe, and the research backs up, that the body plays a significant role in the actions of the mind. Some trainers will use every opportunity in face to face sessions to have candidates stand and move about. This is clearly a difficulty for the on-line world. Printed matter provides a tactile experience that engages multiple senses. The physical act of flipping through pages, underlining important information and writing notes helps learners establish a connection with the content. This interaction with the material aids in information absorption and improves memory recall.

Interactivity and Note Taking

Read a page of text and, depending on your level of interest in the subject, you will retain information. However, we all have the experience of eyes travelling across a page and nothing being taken in. To learn, you need to interact with the page. Print allows delegates to personalise their learning experience by highlighting key points, writing notes in the margins and adding bookmarks. These interactive elements enable learners to actively engage with the material, reinforcing important concepts and facilitating a deeper understanding. Some eBook systems (including the one from PDI) do allow the reader to make notes in the eBook. This method of notetaking however feels clunky and less interactive. Here we need to emphasise how the needs of individuals are different. What works for one does not work for another.


Printed manuals offer accessibility and flexibility, particularly in situations where delegates may not have constant access to digital devices or an internet connection. Whether it's in remote locations, areas with limited technological infrastructure or during travel, printed materials can be easily carried and accessed anytime, anywhere. If the materials are meant for future reference then being in print can often allow them to be more accessible – where did I file that PDF?


So – print has some advantages, particularly its tactile nature, reduced distractions and the notetaking interactivity. By incorporating the advantages of printed materials alongside digital resources, training organisations can create a blended learning approach that caters to the diverse needs of learners. Whether used as standalone materials or in combination with online resources, the printed training manual remains a valuable tool in fostering effective learning outcomes. Print is not dead!

By: David Platt