Contemporaneous Notes – NEVER Use MS Word or OneNote

If you have ever learned how to take proper notes, then you have likely heard of the ELBOWS principle.

E – No Erasures
L – No Leaves are torn out
B – No Blank spaces
O – No Overwriting
W – No Writing in margins
S – Statements to be written in direct speech
Notes should also be in a bound paper notebook with pre-printed page numbers.
If these rules are followed, then your notes should be accepted in court as Contemporaneous Notes and would never look like…

Handwritten Notes - Not acceptable for court

If your notes look like the above notes, then it is likely that you will have issues referring to those notes in court.
Unless you have a great memory, this is going to cause a lot of problems in court if you are up on the stand for hours. Especially if you are trying to remember details that didn’t seem relevant when going over your evidence before court.
The problem with MS Word and OneNote is that you can’t show that you followed the ELBOWS principle.
This may not be an issue in the majority of the cases you investigate, but it may be an issue in the one that counts!
The case with high-priced defense lawyers, where they decide to question your electronic notes and your ability to edit them at any time.
Can you PROVE that you didn’t edit your electronic contemporaneous notes?
And if you did edit your notes to make small changes, does this not show the courts that you could have made other changes you are not admitting to?
Are you willing to be responsible for failing to present key digital evidence in court because you can’t refer to or use your electronic notes?
For a detailed look at issues surrounding the use of MS Word and OneNote, please read this detailed article on Forensic Notes.


Do you agree or disagree with …
MS Word and OneNote should NEVER be used for creating Contemporaneous Notes!