Evernote: More than a Note-taking App

Lots of different notetaking apps will allow you options for putting information into the  app but Evernote leads the pack by providing both rapid and varied options for adding  data. Evernote is one of those applications that just keeps evolving as the need arises.  It would be impossible to describe all of its features in a single review and some of the  material would be outdated by the time I finished. In previous posts about Evernote, I  mentioned several features but in this post, will focus on the app's value in research and writing. 

What Evernote Can Do? 

For saving data, Evernote does almost anything you can imagine. Used in conjunction  with a smartphone or tablet, the possibilities are endless. Evernote can receive input  from almost every source including photos, clippings, typed notes, handwritten notes,  paper documents, files, and emails. Routinely, I do the usual things that most people  with such an app do, like saving web page data (using the Web Clipper extension for  browsers), email attachments, and other documents but regularly use the IOS  companion app, Scannable, to quickly scan paper documents and receipts using my  iPhone. Evernote performs optical character recognition (OCR) on all documents so  even the text in the document--handwriting or typed text-- can be searched. One  blogger describes how she uses a smartphone to take pictures of pages that might  contain quotes to use later. 

The illustration below shows many ways to add information to Evernote and that is the  first step in utilizing it as a research tool.  

One of Evernote's Most Powerful Features! 

I read many posts comparing notetaking apps and there are some effective apps  available. I use several of them, but for my needs as a scholar and writer, my goto app  will always be Evernote because of this one feature. 

Why is Evernote the one that you should use for research and writing as compared to  other well-known notetaking apps? The answer is simple: tags. This is what makes  Evernote special and one of the best research and writing tools. 

The traditional way of storing information on a computer involves using different folders  for different groups of files, but conflicts arise when a particular file has information  related to more than one topic. Where do you file it? Do you duplicate it and reduce the  storage space on your computer? File duplication also has other issues. What if you  make a change to one copy but fail to change the other copy? Tags give you the best of both. File it one place and access it based on the assigned tags. 

Where did I put that document… that note…that image…that email??? 

It's one thing to accumulate articles, images, writings, and other bits of data--I have  almost 3,500 notes in Evernote now--but what good is all of that if I cannot locate the  applicable ones when writing? That is not to say that other apps will not allow you to  search but those searches are a bit different, relying on words found in the documents  or filenames. What about other related documents that don't contain those words? Tags solve that problem and Evernote includes multiple ways to add them to documents. 

Using tags with Evernote is a breeze. Add them any time, while adding the note or later, when you review the day's accumulation. Another nice feature is batch tagging. For  example, you just spent 2 hours researching a particular topic and saved a dozen or so  notes to Evernote. Select all of them and add as many tags as needed. 

That's not all; it gets better. When researching web pages, use the Web Clipper add-in  for your browser to preset both tags and notebook before starting and assign them  when you clip the material. Using preset the tags makes researching online much  quicker as files can be tagged automatically. Note that you can still add or modify the  tags later. Sometimes, I use the presets and sometimes, I just clip what I want and then  refine or add the tags at the end of the session. 

What About My Existing Notes?? 

It may take a while to tag all your notes. Here's an easy way to start the tagging process with your existing notes. Evernote also has powerful search features because all notes  undergo OCR. You can create searches for multiple attributes and then save the search 

for future use. But back to the topic! Search for the topic of interest. Batch tag the  matching files and then selectively add tags as needed. That will speed the process a  bit. As you begin to write, you will most likely think of other articles that are not yet  tagged. Just search for them and tag appropriately. Within a short time, your files are  tagged for easy access. This is a dynamic process as you will add or delete tags over  time. 

Give Evernote a Try!  

Try Evernote with the free account. If you like it, there are significant academic  discounts for both faculty and students. 


Dr. Robert George