Replace your research log with Evernote

Evernote is probably the most useful tool in the researcher’s digital toolbox. Some of the things you can do with Evernote include:

  • Capture all or parts of a web page.
  • Save typed or dictated notes.
  • Add files.
  • Add images.
  • Save email messages, even Tweets.
  • Photograph/scan a record with your smartphone and send it to your collection.
  • Share notebooks with others to compare notes.

Evernote is available on your desktop, tablet, smartphone and anywhere you have access to the Web. And, it automatically keeps everything you add synchronized across all your devices.

Creating a research note in Evernote desktop app

With all this functionality, if you’re using Evernote to collect and manage your research, it is already building a good portion of your research log for you. You’re already collecting your “hits” with it. Now you just need to document your “misses”. I use the text note to document things I can’t capture. Sometimes my notes just describe one search and its result. Sometimes one note may cover a number of searches, people and places. If my tags are consistent, I don’t need a precise format for the content of the note. Each research note (text, document, web capture, image, etc.) I create includes tags for all surnames mentioned, places and other descriptors. I don’t waste time putting my notes into specific notebooks either. I have a notebook for Family Research and everything gets dumped in there. Saved searches do my organization for me and tag searches quickly display everything I have on a specific surname, location or topic.

Evernote isn’t the only tag-based system I use. My photos, documents, ebook library and more are organized and managed with tags. As a result, I’ve built my own tag taxonomy (Would that be called a tagsonomy?) that has become second nature. Platforms like Evernote work for me because they are flexible enough to fit my rather strange methods. My system isn’t very pretty, but it puts the information I need in my face in a matter of seconds.

In addition to being a notebook, todo list and information directory, Evernote has now become my research log too.

5 thoughts on “Replace your research log with Evernote

  1. Thank you for this article. I even have Evernote on my Kindle Fire and netbook (as well as laptop, iphone etc) and want to use it now to replace my spiral notebook for notetaking/research log. I’ll study your articles until I get the hang of it, Denise. Thanks so much for all the wonderful information you provide to help us all with our research! You’re quite a treasure!!


  2. Denise, I’m curious about your “tagsonomy”. Do you have a master list of tags (a controlled vocabulary of sorts) that you use across the various tag-based tools? Thanks also for the Evernote tip – I use it extensively for note taking, but suspect I vastly under use the capture features. Great post – lots of food for thought!


    1. Denise Barrett Olson

      No, I don’t have a formal list. It’s more like an informal standard. As I’ve said, I use “surname:Link” for my surnames. Search engines will return that tag – even in a search for “Link”. I tend towards too many tags rather than too few. Surnames and places are obvious, events too. It’s tags related to topics where I often go off the deep end. And, I’m forever using mixing singular and plural tags. Still, search engines are forgiving enough that they usually find them all. That’s just another advantage to tags. ;>


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