The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Evernote convert

I didn’t really ‘get’ note-taking apps until I tried one out. What’s wrong with good old pen and paper?

Several people had mentioned Evernote and I already had it preloaded on my tablet and laptop, so it didn’t take more than a quick sign-up to get going. I first gave it a go to see how it would work as a way for students to record vocabulary. As I started exploring what it could do though, I soon realized how useful it would be for all kinds of things. 

I’d envisaged that it would be just about taking notes on screen instead of on paper, but I soon realized that the real purpose of it is as a place to collect information from different sources (and in different formats) in one place; curating as I think we’re meant to be calling it now. Let me give you an example.
I go to quite a few conferences and other events. Especially if I’m speaking, they involve quite a bit of information which previously I stored in different places:
As bookmarks in my web browser:
  •  the event website
  •  hotel website
In a folder in my email:
  • information sent to me in emails from the organizers and sometimes from the publishers I’m representing; some of it in the body of messages, some in attachments
  • email confirmations for hotels and travel arrangements
In a folder on my desktop PC:
  • a proposal form or document that I’ve filled out with my presentation title, summary, etc.
  • my PowerPoints
  • any handouts
Using Evernote, I can put it altogether in one place, add notes to myself AND because it synchs across devices, I can access all of it via my desktop, laptop, tablet or even my phone. This is an example from a recent event in Brussels where I’ve got the link to the event website, my talk title and summary, a map of the venue, the address of my hotel, the programme schedule, information for presenters and my PowerPoint slides all in one place (click to see image full-size). 

Now when I sign up for a new event, I just start a new note and as stuff comes in, I add it to the note. It doesn’t take much imagination to see lots of other uses:

  • Preparing a talk, an article or a blog post: to collect notes, links/references, quotes, images
  • Writing materials: to collect links to authentic texts and other sources and annotate them
  • Any project: to collect documents, links and notes from emails all in one place

For information collected online, you can either just cut and paste the link into your note or you can download the Web Clipper tool to copy the actual content direct into a note. If it’s an event website, you’ll want to copy the link (because the info may change), but if it’s a blog post or an article you want to refer back to, you might want to ‘clip’ it. Once clipped, you can then annotate the content.

I’m definitely a convert. I haven’t tried other note-taking apps, but I guess they can do similar things and people will have personal preferences. What’s your favourite and how do you use it?

Labels: ,