Welcome back to Tool Review Tuesdays, a blog post series that explores how we can hack our classrooms and our research with composing, editing, networking, and other writing-related edtech tools! This is an extension of our Hack n’ Yack series, where the DRC fellows offer up some quick tips and perspective on tools they’ve found especially useful.
I’m a big note-taker. I take notes on the books and articles I read. I brainstorm ideas for future projects and blog posts. I list updates and tweaks I want to consider for the websites I work on. Offline, I have a mess of sticky notes and legal pads and notebooks filled with hard-to-read scrawls. Online, I have Evernote.
What Does this Tool Do?
Evernote is a note-taking tool, comparable to OneNote, Simplenote, and others on the market. In addition to typing notes, Evernote lets you copy and paste media into notes, organize notes in notebooks, tag notes, and sync notes across devices. For me, this last feature is key. I often work at the library at the University of Georiga, and there I can access Evernote online, take notes all day, and then have them appear on my computer at home. No need to transport my laptop to and from school. Plus, Evernote recently updated their web environment, and I find the writing space elegant and inviting.
Though I use Evernote for everything from organizing academic projects to keeping track of what I order online, today I’m going to focus on two particular ways of using Evernote as a writer-scholar: as a commonplace book and a submission manager.
Evernote as a Commonplace Book
I was first introduced to the concept of a commonplace book while I was reading Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From. A commonplace book (CPB) is a collection of quotes and media, a way to personally compile and curate knowledge from a variety of sources. I have used a CPB in each of my graduate courses, when I was studying for my comprehensive exams, and now as I’m working on my dissertation. I like that creating a CPB gives me the experience of transcribing passages. I find this exercise enables me to inhabit, however briefly, another scholar or writer’s style, which in turn draws me further into the text. In addition, my CPB provides me with an extensive resources of passages with which I can think through my own ideas, build arguments out of, and compare and contrast to each other.
Hosting my CPB on Evernote enables me to organize, tag, and search my notes. I find that looking for a particular word in my Evernote CPB often pulls together an intriguing selection of quotes and encourages me to consider a topic or idea from a new perspective.
Evernote as a Submission Manager
As a scholar-writer, I’m regularly submitting articles and short stories to academic and literary journals. To keep track of open calls, guidelines, and my submission history, Evernote has been invaluable. I can copy and paste submission guidelines into individual notes and then tag them by due date and text that I will be submitting. Then, I organize these notes in specific notebooks depending on the type of work (i.e. academic, creative, or multimodal). Once I’ve made a submission, I move the related note to a different notebook titled Completed Submissions. I also add the tag “done.”
Now that I’m applying for jobs, I’ve turned to Evernote again to help me stay organized throughout the process. I have notebooks for Jobs to Consider, Job Apps in Process, Jobs Submitted, and Extra Job Notes. For each job, I create a notecard with all the information I need, and sometimes, I even use that card to begin working on my cover letter draft. Then, as the process continues, I move the cards from stage to stage. I use my Extra Job Notes notebook to store information I want to keep handy, such as contact information for my references.
Will I Need to Pay to Use It?
Evernote has a three-tier pricing model. Evernote Free offers a workspace for note-taking and lets you sync notes across devices. Evernote Premium allows for more enhanced searching and offline access to notes on mobile devices for $5 / month, and Evernote Business enables collaboration for $10 / month. I use Evernote Free, and this version provides more than enough functionality for me.
The Bottom Line
I’ve been using Evernote since I started my Ph.D. program, four years ago. In that time, I’ve tried several other note-taking applications, but Evernote is my favorite, and now it’s the only one I use.
Interested in more ways of using Evernote? Check out these resources:
From Amy Cavender, Ph.D., on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker blog:
- Evernote and Markdown: Two Tools that Work Great Together (blog post)
- Using Evernote in the Classroom (blog post)
From Raul Pacheco-Vega, Ph.D.:
- Using Evernote in Academic Research and Teaching (blog post)
- Evernote for Academics (shared Evernote notebook)
From the Montclair Kimberley Academy:
- Using Evernote in the Classroom (Google doc of resources and examples)