I first started using Evernote over a year ago to organize research for my undergraduate thesis and haven’t turned back. Now I use it for almost everything, from taking notes during class to saving recipes that I want to try. But mostly I use it to organize my research. Currently, I’m working on a number of different research based projects, including my online exhibition about the Irish in Greenwich Village and Evernote allows me to organize everything and keep track of my sources and ideas.
Evernote gives you a two different ways of organizing your notes: notebooks and tagging. I’m more of a notebook kind of gal but I use tagging too, especially when I have a lot of information to sort through. Notebooks are the most basic way of organizing whatever it is you’re working on. I generally name my notebooks by topic or subject because it’s the easiest way for me to use them. You also have the option of stacking notebooks meaning you can have one big notebook with a number of smaller ones, like subcategories. So I could have a notebook called “The Irish in the Village” which is filled with general research and within that notebook I could have another notebook called “Church of St. Joseph” which would contain all my research about St. Joseph’s.
Tagging is another great way to organize your research. I don’t use tags as often because it’s not how I normally think of topics while I’m researching. But tags do come in handy when you have a lot of notes in a notebook. It’s a way of organizing your thought process by subject or topic. It’s also a great way of clustering your research using a common thread.
An awesome feature of Evernote is the web clipper. You can download the web clipper onto your Internet browser and it acts as a snipping tool. I use it a lot when I’m sifting through articles I come across on the web that may not be totally relevant to what I’m researching but have a few interesting facts or quotes. The web clipper gives you the ability to screenshot the entire article or just a piece of it and then saves it into the notebook you chose. It’s great when you don’t have time to read everything that comes up in a search but you know might come in handy later.
For me the best thing about Evernote is I can use it across multiple devices and I don’t need an Internet connection. Between commuting, school, and working, it’s great that I can access Evernote nearly everywhere, even on my phone. But the most useful thing is that I can use in offline on multiple devices. I can review notes or reads articles while I’m on the train or bus. And then once I have an Internet connection again, it syncs my devices so each one is up to date.
There are, of course, some frustrating aspects to Evernote. Sometimes the web clipper can be frustrating to work with and the organization of Evernote can seem a little rigid at times. But overall, Evernote is one of the best programs I’ve used to help organize research, thoughts, and ideas, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s about to tackle a project or just needs a way to stay organized.