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.

Managing Fonts on Your iPad

Managing Fonts on Your iPad

Any good storyteller knows that fonts can be as much a design element as photos and graphics. Unfortunately, your iPad comes with a limited number of fonts. Don’t worry. Many of the design apps include fonts and there are apps that will allow you to install your favorite fonts on you iPad/iPhone for use with just about any app. I’ve had great success using the free AnyFont app. With AnyFont you…

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Managing Fonts on Your iPad

Any good storyteller knows that fonts can be as much a design element as photos and graphics. Unfortunately, your iPad comes with a limited number of fonts. Don’t worry. Many of the design apps include fonts and there are apps that will allow you to install your favorite fonts on you iPad/iPhone for use with just about any app.

I’ve had great success using the free AnyFont app. With AnyFont you can install your favorite fonts and even unlock a bundle of 1,000 fonts as an in-app purchase for 99 cents.

Installing fonts is easy.
Installing fonts is easy.

Here you see an example of AnyFonts at work. In the background you see a list of fonts available within the app. Tap any font to display this install panel. Tap Preview to see how that font looks. If it looks good, just tap the font icon to install. That’s it!

You can also install your own fonts. Copy them to a folder in iCloud or Dropbox then follow the directions in AnyFonts’ tutorials to install them.

Once installed on your iPad, your fonts will be available to you in Pages, Numbers and Keynote as well as the Microsoft Office apps. One thing to watch – especially if you are a font hound like me – is the space your installed fonts are using on your device. Check Settings > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage and scroll down to see how much storage AnyFont is using. I have more than 100 fonts installed on my iPad using 140MB of space. To compare, I have four books in my Kindle app and it’s using 401MB of space.

Creative Keynote – Create a Title Page

Creative Keynote – Create a Title Page

Most of my family history projects could best be described as text-heavy scrapbooks. I want something that will catch their eye and pull them in to read the story. I use the Ulysses writing platform to organize, write and manage my text and I’ve found that Keynote – the presentation software for Mac and iOS – is a delightful layout platform for combining that text with photos, scanned documents…

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Creative Keynote – Create a Title Page

Most of my family history projects could best be described as text-heavy scrapbooks. I want something that will catch their eye and pull them in to read the story. I use the Ulysses writing platform to organize, write and manage my text and I’ve found that Keynote – the presentation software for Mac and iOS – is a delightful layout platform for combining that text with photos, scanned documents and ephemera to complete the story. The first step is the title page.

One of the very nice things about Keynote is that I can work on these projects using either my Mac desktop or my iPad. The story text in Ulysses is saved in iCloud and is accessible to both systems. So are my photos and graphical elements. This title page was created on my iPad. Here’s how it was done.

The photo of the moorings was taken several years ago on my way to work. It not only makes a great background for my title page, it also sets the color scheme for this entire section. I tapped the + icon in the toolbar, selected the Photos panel and wandered through the albums to find the image I wanted. I’ve found it’s a good idea to first select the photos I plan to use for a story project using the Photos app. I “favorite” them by tapping the heart icon so they will be easily accessible in the Favorites album. Once this project is finished, I’ll go back and un-heart them so that the Favorites album doesn’t get out of control.

Dad looks quite “commanding” in the small photo. After inserting this photo on the slide, I resized it and put it in the top left corner of the slide. With the photo selected, I tapped the paintbrush icon to bring up the formatting panel. Notice there are actually three panels available: Style, Image and Arrange. I’m using the Style panel to create a border around the photo. I’ve chosen the rough edge style in one of the darker gray colors found at the bottom of the moorings photo. Using the Width slider, I gave the border enough thickness to make the photo stand out without being overpowering.

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Still in the Style panel, I scroll down to see the Shadow options. I selected the shadow option I liked best and left the opacity at 100% because of the dark background.

Now for the title. Here I’m using the same gray color I used in the photo border. Although the lighter background behind the text does make it stand out, I added a narrow black shadow to add dimension. The font used here is an “antique” font called Blackbeard. Yes, you can install custom fonts on your iPad. The delightful AnyFont app makes that happen. See Managing Fonts on Your iPad for details.

If you want a custom color for your font, tap the > icon you see just to the right of the Color box in the example above. It will display a color wheel similar to the one you see below so you can swirl and twirl the wheel until you find just the color you want. There’s even an eyedropper icon at the bottom of the panel to pick out a color from a photo or image.

It’s amazing what you can create using Keynote on your iPad. It has an impressive range of tools and features just waiting for you to put them to work. If you’d like to learn more about Keynote on your iPad, open your iBooks app and search for Keynote for iPad Starter Guide from Apple Education. It’s free and full of great information.