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Posts Tagged ‘Note-taking’

Evernote is a great note taking tool, that should be utilized by anyone who likes to keep everything in one place. I was first introduced to Evernote last year, but did not start using it till our Creating Digital History Class. However, I wish I started using it earlier as I find myself more organized than ever with it. It is great as it can be accessed with their app on your phone, tablet, and computer, in addition to their website that can be accessed using any internet browser.

Upon signing up for a free account, a user can create notebooks for anything that they need. My notebooks include a personal notebook for any to do lists I make or any interesting articles I find; a notebook for each of the classes I am in; and a notebook for the Greenwich Village History project. Each notebook contains information that I can easily access on my laptop or on my phone during my commutes to and from the city. The easy accessibility of Evernote is one of the main reasons that I use it for everything. I love that it has an app for your smartphone, which I utilize all the time, whether it is reading for class on the train or writing something down on the go, it is extremely useful.

My Notebooks on Evernote

My individual notes are easy to read as I constantly use the bullet points or numerical list format that Evernote allows you to use. For my notes on the readings for class I am able to clearly label each reading and organize my thoughts in bullets underneath each heading. I then apply whatever tag is necessary, in this case the tag would be Reading Notes. The option to tag was something I only recently started using. It allows for an easy way to search through any of the notes or articles that you have saved on Evernote.

The Notes in My Greenwich Village History Notebook

Another great feature of Evernote is the web clipper. This tool allows you to clip articles from the internet and send them straight to their perspective notebook. The little elephant head appears at the top of your browser. Whenever you come across something of interest you just press the button and it clips the article. The web clipper has become an integral part of my research for my Greenwich Village Digital Archive Exhibit. I am able to organize all the articles I am using for reference, as well as maintaining the websites that any of my images in my archive come from. I have also been writing any notes I take for my exhibit on Evernote. Numerous times I find myself without a laptop and finding something useful for my exhibit. I can easily access my notebook on my iPhone or the web browser and make note of my findings.

 

Evernote is very alert to the needs of its users. Their website includes a bog where users can post any questions or concerns that they have. It was here that I personally was able to understand how to use the web clipper tool. The blog is divided into six pages: Latest, Product Updates, Tips + Guides, Community, Partners and Our Notes. Each tab is full of practical information for new and old users. I have found that the Tips + Guides portion of the blog is the most useful as it offers many troubleshooting posts as well as new and different ways to utilize Evernote, like creating a cookbook with it.  It was here that I personally was able to understand how to use the web clipper tool. After having looked at their blog many different times I have realized the wonders of Evernote and am glad I had the opportunity to finally utilize it. My student life has drastically changed with Evernote as I find it so much easier to be organized in all of my classes.  I plan on continuing to use Evernote in my future classes.

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I had never used Evernote software before this semester. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it. I utilized a hybrid-system of typed and handwritten notes that were saved in various places in an array of formats. I would usually transcribe class notes onto my laptop, highlight my digital format readings in Mac’s Preview, write out reading notes from printed materials into notebooks, list things I needed to remember on sticky-notes, and work out assignment outlines in a more compact and accessible ‘travel notebook.’ I wouldn’t say Evernote resolved my obsession with diversified note taking, but I would say it helped organize some of the confusion.

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This is the basic interface of Evernote, although there are a few different outlines you can choose from. I used the list feature here to keep track of which projects I have edited. This feature is great for to-do lists.

There are multiple note taking programs out there, from Google Keep to OneNote, and sometimes it’s just a matter of which is most compatible to your personal note-taking style (or aesthetic preference). However, there are a few features of Evernote that make it a little more versatile than its competitors. To begin, Evernote isn’t an exclusive Microsoft/P.C. product like OneNote, or an Android preferred system like Google Keep. This means that if you do make the daunting crossover from PC to Mac, Android to iPhone, or vice versa, your Evernotes will still be compatible.

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Basic interface of Google Keep, taken from an Android

OneNote

Basic interface of OneNote software

The software’s diversity is threefold in its ability to be referenced on computers as a program, mobile devices as an app, and online as a website. This means you can sync it to your different devices or access it online if you are without them. This does lead into to some interface problems, however. When using your iPad or Kindle the keyboard cuts off most of the Evernote screen making it difficult to use it for anything but reading notes already taken. If you write all your notes on a computer and then use your iPad for referencing, this won’t be a problem.  But that’s likely not the case, and this is something to consider.

While I haven’t used OneNote or Google Keep extensively, I have used Google Docs, which seems to be another popular online note storage method. The appeal of Google Docs is its alignment to a word processing program. You can type up entire papers, save them with multiple users for coediting, or simply have them in the Web 2.0 ether for ready accessibility. This is a dream for the increasing number of students without printers. It also allows you the flexibility to make folder under folder ad infinitum, a more cumbersome task with Evernote. But there is a reason I have been using Evernote for the majority of my notes and outlines, and Google Docs only for my paper drafts.

googledocs

The fluid interface and various tools Evernote offers allows me to take more diverse notes, and track different media elements that would be tricky with Google Docs. The Web Clipper, for instance, ‘clips’ sites you come across that pertain to your interest and store them in your folders for easy access. Because your notes can appear in square thumbnails, previewing what is in them, it’s easier to reference what you were saving. I find this helpful when I am in the beginning stages of writing a paper; having accumulated all my research, it’s an efficient way to skim my resources while I put my draft together.

The Web Clipper also gives you the option of saving the site as an article, a simplified article, full page, bookmark, or screenshot. Then there are ‘Markup’ options so you can make notes on the page to remind you why you clipped it. You can also tag the page, a tool that runs throughout Evernote, which provides subject clouds to pick out themes or find notes from.

webcliping   webcliptools

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The tagging feature is helpful in quickly amassing related topics, especially for a final paper or research paper where relevant notes could be spread out at various points and in various notebooks. I find this particularly helpful when I have notes from different classes that could strengthen my paper, but that I might not have remembered if they were limited to the notebook they are stored under. If the tags are too broad for you to find the specific parts of the note that relate to your interest, there is a text mining capability in the search bar. If you are writing on ‘modernism,’ but can’t remember which parts of the note are specifically on the topic, you can mine it for the keyword.

evernotetaggcloud Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 11.09.05 AM

Evernote also allows you to upload photos and videos that could be important to your topic or interests. Storing them among your other notes, instead of a different media file, has a similar benefit as the Web Clipper. They are in sight and easily referenced, making them more likely to be intergraded into your project or paper. However, if thumbnails are aesthetically too chaotic for you there are multiple ways to organize and display your notes. You can reduce the files to just dates and headlines, no images or displays, and place these either at the top of the program or to the side.

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Here is another organization option for your Evernote notebooks and notes

In conclusion, I use Evernote for all note taking: in class, reading notes, attaching preview-highlighted readings, web clipped articles, etc. When it comes to writing papers the format isn’t compatible, I would much rather use Google Docs. If Evernote integrated a space for writing papers in a word processing format, I would be inclined to make the switch over. However, the large number of my peers and professors who use Gmail and Google Docs, and don’t use Evernote, might be an impasse. For now, I will mix the two programs. Evernote is great for researching, outlining, and brainstorming for a paper and Google Docs is better for drafting and editing the paper. I rarely find a need for a paper notebook, and with all the capabilities of Web 2.0, this will become increasingly true. I think there are improvements to be made for Evernote, and look forward to their upgrades.

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