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How to Organize Notes in Evernote

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Today we will look at how to organize notes in Evernote.

By now you should be all set up with Evernote apps on all your devices and you should have a few notes synced up as well.

Before you go gung ho adding notes willy nilly (yes, I said willy nilly) – it is a good idea to have a plan for organizing your notes.

Your goal is to be able to find your notes quickly and easily. 

You should be able to search for a keyword about your note in the search box and have the thing you are looking for show up as a result.

Evernote Has Tools You Can Use To Keep Your Account Organized

You can keep your Evernote account organized by using Notebooks, , Notebook Stacks, Titles, and Tags.

Creating a solid structure inside Evernote is especially important if you use the free version of the app.

The Evernote Premium service will perform OCR (optical character recognition) on PDF files – but the free version does not.

However, you will only stick with your organization system if you set up a structure that is not overly complicated.

Let's break things down into levels.

Use Notebook Stacks to Collect Your Notebooks

Notebook stacks are at the very top level of collections in Evernote.

These are basically a collection of Notebooks that have something in common.

For example, I have a notebook stack called “Kids”. This stack is made up of 4 notebooks – one for each of my kids.

Use Notebooks to Collect a Bunch of Related Notes

Notebooks should be a familiar concept to you.

Think of a a spiral bound notebook or a three ring binder – but not exactly.

In the offline world, you might set up a notebook for all the different projects in your life.

You would do this because you have no search function offline.

To find something you would have to sift through each piece of paper, which would take a long time.

For my kids – I might set up a separate offline binder for their

  • school information
  • medical information
  • activities, etc.

But in Evernote, creating all those separate notebooks would be overkill.

If you create too many Notebooks in Evernote, you are actually working too hard. You will end up spending way too much time filing all your notes into the appropriate notebooks.

Resist the tendency to treat Evernote like an offline notebook.

For example, I have ONE notebook in Evernote for each of my kids.

I file everything that relates to a particular child in that ONE notebook.

Soccer stuff, school stuff, personal stuff – it all gets thrown into the same bucket or in this case, notebook.

This is because I can search based on titles and tags and keywords which we will get into in a second.

Because you can search Evernote, there is no need for several notebooks.

How to Use Tags in Evernote

Tags in Evernote are how you will be able to find a set of related notes.

When you create a note in Evernote, you can assign it some descriptive tags.

So, when you save the soccer game schedule into Evernote, you can tag it with a tag called “soccer”.

When you save the school calendar into Evernote, you can assign it a keyword called “school” and so on and so forth.

While tags are a very powerful tool, they can also quickly get out of hand.

The problem is that just like notebooks, if you create too many you might actually be making it harder to find what you are looking for.

Let's say that you tag the school calendar with the tag school, then you save an updated calendar and tag it with the word “calendar”.

Evernote is pretty smart and should be able to return both notes if you search for the words “school calendar”.

But if the thing that you are searching for is not quite so simple, you might start to wonder whether your search is turning up all possible results.

My solution to this is to create a core set of ten or so tags.

I assign one of these core tags to each and every note.

Then I add other, secondary, descriptive tags that I think are relevant.

For example, if something is school related – it always gets the “school” tag.

In addition I might add tags like “calendar” or “report card” or “class list”.

To remember my core tags, I keep an offline list.

But theoretically you could just create a note in Evernote. 😉

Why You Should Use Both – Notebooks AND Tags – in Evernote

You are probably asking why you need both notebooks and tags.

Theoretically, you could just have one huge notebook with thousands of well tagged notes.

I use notebooks because sometimes I don't know exactly what I am looking for.

Crazy right?

But really, sometimes I need to flip through a related set of ideas or documents, just like I would an offline notebook.

So, loosely collecting related notes in an Evernote notebook is useful to me.

Use Descriptive Note Titles for Your Notes

How you title your notes in Evernote is also very important for finding what you need.

While Tags make it easy to find what you are looking for – Titles help YOU filter through the list of search results.

Given the number of kids that I have, a search for “class list” may turn up at least four results and maybe lists from prior years as well.

In this case a descriptive title would probably help me find the exact list that I am looking for.

Johnny 3rd Grade Class List – for example.

Make Your Organization Structure Work For You

Every person's organizing method in Evernote will be different.

The important thing is to have a plan before you start.

Trust me, backtracking through your notes is tedious and painful.

Make sure you use a logical combination of

  • Notebook Stacks
  • Notebooks
  • Tags
  • and Note Titles

to take full advantage of the power of Evernote.

Other Articles In the Series

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John Raschedian

Sunday 4th of December 2016

Hi Neena! Thank you for this post. It was wonderful. Your blog is written and designed very well. Thank you!

Neena Nandagopal

Sunday 4th of December 2016

Thanks, John!

George

Monday 9th of May 2016

What a great series of articles on Evernote - this is the most helpful series I have found so far as it's detailed enough to be helpful yet concise enough to get through quickly and get started! I would love to know what your "Core" tags are. I think it would really help to explain the intricacies of tagging.

Neena

Monday 9th of May 2016

Hi George,

Thank you so much for the compliments on my Evernote Series. I think you have inspired me to add another post to the series - this time about tagging.

In fact, it has been on my own To Do list to do a little Evernote housekeeping, because we have to do that every so often. ;-)

Thanks for stopping in - and I will post an update in the comments here when I add the new article (so you should get a notification), but if you subscribe then you will know that way too.

Thanks so much for the feedback and for stopping in!