Research With Notes

Well yeah! Researchers need notes to document what they know and what they need to find. Everybody knows that.

There are all kinds of notes management services and apps with many that do amazing things to keep us organized, find what we need fast and capture new information easily. Services like Evernote and One Note are quite impressive. If you are a serious researcher, the time and money needed to get the most from these services is well worth it.

For Mac, iPad and iPhone users, there is the free Notes app. At first glance it looks rather simplistic but it won’t take long to realize how sophisticated it really is. In addition to the basic text note, you can also create checklists and tables. Use Siri to create a new note then dictate your content. You can even add attachments – photos, scanned documents and videos – to your notes.

Research notes tend to grow quickly. Fortunately Notes lets you create folders to help organize all that research goodness. You can easily move a note from one folder to another. There is a sort feature making it easy to sort by date edited, date created or title.

Sample research folder in Notes

As your research notes grow, you will find your device’s search feature very handy. Even better, just ask Siri to find it for you. As you can see in this example, I include hash tags (#Levy #Texas #military) in my notes to make searching even easier. Anytime I want to see all my notes on my Levy family, all I have to do is search for #Levy and Notes delivers. My standard hashtags include family name, location and type of record.

Going to the library to do some research? Take your iPhone or iPad with you and use Notes to scan the documents you find there. All you do is open a note in Notes then tap the plus sign icon at the top of the keyboard. Choose the Scan Document option then position your iPad over the document page. Your device will automatically capture the page and add it to the note.

If you are using iCloud for storage, your notes will automatically synch to each of your iOS devices – and your Mac desktop too. There is also a collaboration feature that takes advantage of iCloud so you can share a note and all your collaborators can view, and or change the content of that note. Your collaborators must be signed into iCloud before they can edit a note.

This is just the beginning. Notes has a lot more goodness to put to good use with your research. You will find detailed instructions for making the most of your Notes app in the iPad User Guide for iOS 12 (there is also an iPhone user guide). You can download either guide in the Books app on your device. These guides are free.

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