You can absolutely use blank paper for note taking. However, since you need to record the same kind of details on every page of notes, a form is nice for reminders. This particular form is aimed at new or less experienced genealogists who need extra help remembering all the source details they need to record. This is great for Occasional Genealogists (OGs) because you very likely don't remember everything between your occasional research sessions.
As a disclaimer, I do not take notes by hand unless it is the only option I have. Below are images with filled in forms. As you can see from my handwriting, there's a very good reason I don't handwrite anything. Since I previously provided a note taking form that had to be used electronically (Plan to Notes Form), I've created a printable note-taking form for OGs who need a form they can fill out by hand. I've tried to include all the parts paper notes require---there are some differences from electronic documents, so let me know if I've left something out.
Page OneThe first page of this form doesn't have a place for your actual notes. It is dedicated solely to capturing organizational and source information. It kicks off with a place to indicate where you will store your notes. I've kept this simple since everyone's filing system differs.
There are two blank lines after the file name. One is for you to enter the researcher name and contact information. That's you. Put information on this line for several reasons. First, if your notes get left at the repository, you want them to get back to you. Just your name won't help. Second, at some point, you should assume your notes will be shared. You may be an avid sharer but if not, what about when you die? Are you planning to have your research destroyed? If you have any hope of your research continuing after you, fill in some identifying researcher information. Since this form is for you to use, type your name into your master copy so you don't have to enter it every time you go to research.
The next blank line is for additional identifying details. I haven't included a description on this line in case you want to use it for something else. On this same line is the place for the date you perform the research.
Here's a close-up picture of a sample form in action.
When creating this form, I've imagined you will do some preparation before you head off to research. This sample shows the first several sections typed in. If you know what sources you will be looking at, why not have your form ready, at least page one.
You can really up your game by always using page one. You may not find the person you are looking for---you need to record this at least in your research log. But, if you're an OG, taking notes when you have a chance is important. Page one has a section called "Notes about source." This is where you make notes based on the preface to a book or from your observations of records.
It might be a note that the transcriber couldn't find volume three although it is supposed to exist. The note might be that the first 20 frames of microfilm are illegible. All of these are vital pieces of information for an OG---or any genealogist. If you're an OG, you don't have time to make another trip only to find it is wasted because you need volume three again. Get these details the first time, even if you don't find your ancestor.
I've kept all the source parts together on this form for your future reference. You may be able to enter some source parts at home based on a catalog entry or finding aid. Other parts you can only enter once you're researching.
After the source details is the place for your very specific goal. The file and secondary identifier at the top may seem pretty specific to you but the goal should be more specific. Sometimes this is harder if you want to save time and are looking for mutiple families in one record. Try and come up with a goal, not just "all Smiths" (although sometimes that may be exactly what you're doing).
Last on page one is a summary section. I've labeled it "Questions raised or ideas for future research." This phrase helps me think about what will happen next. When you're done, don't forget to enter the total number of pages for this set of notes (not visible in the image).
Page Two+Page two is basically just a blank page for your notes. It does have a place to record a short source, the date, and the page number and total pages. These are all important with paper notes in case things get separated.
There is also a reminder running along the left side of the page to remind you to record any additional source details. This is usually the page of a book or microfilm frame number. In some cases you may need to record more details. Have you ever photocopied a page from a book of abstracted obituaries only to get home and realize the date and paper name were on the previous page? That's the kind of detail to include. Use this page over again for as many pages as you need.
You can download a copy in the Resource Library.