Tag Archives: workflows

Evernote for Academics: Guest Post – Madison Pierce on Using Evernote for Research and Writing

 Madison Pierce is a PhD Candidate in New Testament at Durham University working on the Book of Hebrews. 

Introduction

Before I get started, it’s important to get a confession out of the way: I was an Evernote naysayer. It’s true. About a year ago, Evernote was prescribed by my boss, and I could not get the hang of it. I had a very set way of working, and Evernote was not working for me. I gave it a second look about 5 month ago when I realized I needed a more flexible note-taking system for my PhD. Thankfully, when I returned, I realized that many of my largest issues (e.g., only one tier of filing, when I wanted at least two) had been remedied. I immediately went to work making Evernote work for me.

So here’s how I use Evernote…

Getting Material into Evernote

It is fairly common for people to house their pdfs in Evernote; I don’t. I use Evernote only for “clips”––the most pertinent information that I am fairly certain I will need for a project I have on the horizon. When developing my workflow, the most important thing to me was speed. It was important to me to be able to get information into Evernote without disrupting the flow of my reading/research too much. For this reason, I developed an “Unfiled” folder (much like Brian’s “Inbox”). My default on my phone and computer is for items to go into this folder. Then, when I open Evernote to do some work with my notes, I can quickly move things around and get them where they belong.

On my computer, I use the Evernote Helper in my menu bar of my Mac.  I clip anything from a bibliographic entry to a paragraph, but I always make sure to include the source, so I can go from these notes to a completed paper with little more than Evernote, my word processor, and reference software open.

On my phone, I take pictures with the document camera of my pertinent information (which are of a great quality). This is my using MO when I’m reading a good old-fashioned book. I keep Evernote open and reading and make clip notes of the biblio info. (A great feature in the iPhone app is the autofill for the titles of notes. It makes this really quick!)

Organizing Evernote Material

When I’m reading to start serious work on a project, I make a Notebook for it. Every notebook in my Evernote is a project. For my thesis, I have made a notebook for each chapter, and then created a Stack for the whole project.

When I’ve developed an outline for my project (usually a paper), I create tags for each section, and then I tag notes for every topic to which they might contribute. Then, when I write that section, I select the correct tag, and the only notes I see are those relevant to my current work. I love this feature because it helps me not to get overloaded with the mounds of research I’ve collected. I always research a while before writing (against the advice of many), but that’s what works for me and how Evernote contributes.

Here’s a preview from a recent paper on the Dead Sea Scrolls:

 

As you can see, my tags are simple but intuitive for my section headings. This paper was a little more rushed than usual but Evernote made it a snap!

Thanks Madison for this great post! I will definitely be implementing your tagging system on my next paper.

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Links to other posts in the Evernote for Academics Series

Evernote for Academics: Day 06 – Research Workflows

We finally made it to Day 6 of the Evernote for Academics series. Today I will briefly cover some ideas that you can use in your research. Tomorrow, I will have a guest post on how one student uses Evernote in her research workflow.

Using Evernote as one central hub when doing a research project is one of the most powerful and useful ways that I use Evernote. I find the combination of the ease of getting things in, searching, and availibility on all my devices the perfect combination when using Evernote.

Getting Your Research Into Evernote

In a previous post I discussed a variety of ways of importing anything and everything in Evernote. Today I want to dive in a little deeper and look at some specific ways that I find helpful when conducting research.

One of the keys to my research workflow strategy is only importing items that are pertinent to research. This means I make liberal use of the Evernote clipper when dealing with PDFs and other articles that are already on my computer. Instead of importing the whole resource I clip the sections that I want to use. This way when I am writing I am not bogged down searching endlessly through pages and pages of writing that I will not use. I created a video in a previous post showing how I use Skitch for this purpose.

Below I will cover to more methods that I use to get specific information into Evernote.

Mobile App

I find the mobile app to be indespensible in my research workflow. It allows me to digitize my physical books and articles quickly and easily. Along with easily being able to get pertinent copies into my notebooks it also allows the ability to search these documents as well.

The mobile app has a camera feature that allows you to capture high quality images of both typed and written work. You could use the default camera on your phone but using the camera feature within Evernote tends to produce higher quality images for documents and allows you to quickly make a new note on the go. Once you have captured your image you can annotate it within the mobile app for future reference.

Often times I often prefer taking hand written notes when reading. Evernote has the ability to capture your hand written notes via the camera and create a searchable note (premium users only). It is suprisingly accurate. I don’t have the neatest hand writing and I still find that it is able to search my notes with a high degree of accuracy.

Saving Kindle Highlights

One of the most useful features of the Kindle is the ability to search through all your highlights at once. You can access your highlights via the web by going to https://kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights.

Once I get to my highlights I use the Evernote web clipper. Once I find the highlight(s) that I want to import I use the “screenshot” option and then crop the pertinent section.

Conclusion

Today I covered some methods that I find helpful for getting specific research into Evernote for later. Tomorrow our guest post will feauture how one student has developed a specific workflow for research. Stay tuned! It is a good one.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Evernote for Academics: Day 05 – School

Thanks for coming back for the fifth post in the Evernote for Academics. Today I am going to discuss some of the ways that you can use Evernote in school. In the next post I will address using the program for research papers/projects. Since both of these use cases are very similar I will try to address different aspects in each post.

Evernote can really be a one-stop shop for school. I find the following three aspects of Evernote most useful for school:

  1. Availability/sync on any device
  2. Ability to deal with multiple file formats in one note
  3. Keyboard shortcuts

Availability/sync on any device

If you are at all familiar with Evernote you know that this is one of its greatest strengths. Their slogan “remember everything” is made possible because you can have Evernote wherever you are at. The ability to have all your school files and projects in one central location is very handy when in school.

At the beginning of the semester add all your files for each class in separate notebooks (including syllabus, handouts, misc files, etc). This way all your files are in one central location and searchable.

Ability to deal with multiple file formats in one note

Evernote can handle virtually any type of file that you throw at it. This is great, especially when taking notes in class. You can have audio, links, pdfs, images, and much more in one note. Let’s examine how this can be helpful in class:

Audio in the classroom

Evernote has the ability to record audio within the app. This will allow you to record the lecture and have it coincide with your notes. Personally, if I am recording a lecture I will stop when the professor changes topics. This way I can have short audio snippets aligned with my notes. This way when I am reviewing for an exam I can listen to the audio and not waste time by finding the exact point of the lecture in a 60 minute audio clip.

Images in the classroom

I find two helpful use cases of using images within notes. If the professor is using a projector but doesn’t give access to the slides if there is an important slide with a chart, graph or image you can quickly take out your phone and take a picture and include it in your notes.

Another helpful use case is when the professor is referencing one of your textbooks you can quickly take a picture in the Evernote app of that specific text and import it within your note. When you are studying later you can just look at your notes instead of fishing through the textbook to try to find that exact location.

Links

Often times the professor will give out website, book, or article recommendations. Using Evernote you can quickly create a clickable link of that resource right within your note for quick access later.

Due to a limitation in Evernote the following tip only works in conjunction with a text editor called Byword. It allows you to write with a distraction free screen in Markdown. I mentioned this in a previous post but Markdown is a language similar to HTML but is much simpler and designed to be readable. I write most of my text in this language and then export it to Evernote. The reason is two-fold: 1) I prefer to write in an app like Byword because it just presents a blank screen that is less distracting 2) Writing in Markdown allows me to focus on the text but not the formatting. Using an app like Byword you can still use your normal keyboard shortcuts for basic formatting (i.e. Command+B for bold text) and not have to remember the syntax. Click here for overview of the basic Markdown syntax. See this video for a quick introduction to Markdown.

I also find it helpful to link certain names and topics to an encyclopedia or dictionary article in Logos. Logos has the ability to create URLs that take you directly to a certain location in a resource. In my church history course when a name, event, or location was mentioned that I was unfamiliar with I would look it up in Logos and create a hyperlink to that resource for later. See video below on how to create a Logos link.

Handouts/PDFs

If a professor provides handouts of a topic you can quickly add that to you note. You can do this a couple different ways. First, you can include the PDF inline with your notes. Depending on the length of the PDF and how you have Evernote set up this could be useful. This works best if you have the option to view PDFs and other documents as attachments, which you can change in the settings. Personally, I prefer to have the PDFs appear inline, which just means that you can read it right there on the screen when you open the note and not click on the attachment. In this scenario I actually create a new note with the PDF and create a hyperlink to that note (similar to the Logos URL above). In order to create a hyperlink in a note you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Opt+Command+C (Mac) or on Windows and Mac right-click the not and click Copy Note Link.

If you receive paper handouts you can quickly take a picture using the document camera in the Evernote app on your mobile device and sync it with your notes.

Keyboard Shortcuts

By knowing the Evernote keyboard shorts it will save you a lot of time when formatting your document on the fly in the classroom. Below are some the keyboard shortcuts for Evernote. I highlighted some of my most used shortcuts that you may find useful (click to expand).

For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts see below:

Quick Tips

  • Use individual notebooks for each class and create an Evernote stack for the semester
  • Use simple tags to stay organized (notes, homework, syllabus, etc.).
  • Use the to-do feature to plan your week and projects. Make sure to hyperlink to specific notes for quick reference later.
  • To get the most out of the semester be sure to put all your files and notes in Evernote for easy searching and so nothing gets lost. 

Adding Links to Logos Resources in Evernote

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Evernote for Academics: Day 04 – Search

Welcome back to the Evernote for Academics series. Today we are going to briefly cover searching within Evernote. I am going to do this post slightly different. Honestly, I really only use a couple different search options. Not because the others are difficult or anything but I can normally find my stuff quickly by simple searches. So hears the deal: Watch this short video of me showing a couple different useful searches then follow the links for more advanced searching. 

Useful Links

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using

Evernote Search, Saved Searches and Syntax

Recently Evernote came out with “Descriptive Search” on the Mac. This just means that you can use natural language syntax for search. For example, to search for the word “gospel” in a notebook called Biblical Studies you can just type in “notebook biblical studies gospel” instead of typing notebook:”biblical studies: gospel, which you need that exact syntax. I find this extremely helpful because using natural language is much easier to remember because you actually don’t really have to remember anything. You just type what seems natural to find what you want. 

See this post for a more in-depth overview. Evernote has also helpfully provided some more details on how to use descriptive search. 

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Evernote for Academic: Day 03 – Getting Your Stuff Into Evernote

Well you have made it to the third post in the Evernote for Academics series. Previously I gave an introduction to the series and then covered some methods of using tags and notebooks in Evernote along with some other tips. Today we are going to examine one of the beauties of the Evernote system: getting your stuff into Evernote. The app itself has many awesome ways of getting your documents and notes into Evernote such as the app itself, web clippings, screenshots, email, and more. Coupled with the hundreds of apps that allow you to send information to Evernote there is really no excuse for you not to store all your information in Evernote.

For the purpose of this post I am just going to introduce some of the default methods that Evernote provides to import your files and notes into Evernote.

Evernote App

The default method of getting your notes and files into Evernote is the app itself. From here you can create a new note and start typing in your information and you are good to go. One additional useful feature is the ability to drag and drop files into Evernote. Each file uses the name of the file for the title of the note itself. See video below for a quick demonstration of dragging one or multiple files into Evernote.

Evernote also provides a menu bar app for quickly adding notes, taking screenshots, and capturing audio without actually opening the app. You can activate this by either clicking the icon or with a keyboard shortcut. This is particularly useful when you want to capture something quickly without actually opening the app. This frees you from distraction if you are working on another project not in Evernote. It is also handy to create a quick audio file for later.

See video below for a quick demonstration of dragging one or multiple files into Evernote and using the desktop clipper.

Evernote Options

Evernote Web Clipper

This is one of the most handy functions of Evernote. You can take any webpage and import it into Evernote to read and research later. The web clipper works in all the major browsers. Click here to download the Web Clipper. I find this particularly useful for biblioblogs. I save many articles that I may find useful later in research. Often times blogs and other websites can help spark ideas for research or serve as a launching pad for further research. By having these articles in my Evernote database I can easily search them later.

Email to Evernote

Evernote provides each user with a unique email that allows you to send an email to create a new note. I use this especially for emails that I want to save or search for later. Evernote’s search functions are often times much better than email clients such as Apple Mail. When I receive an important email I just forward the email to Evernote. For more tips on using this function and for creating a memorable email address see this post.

Evernote Mobile Apps

I will cover using Evernote mobile more in depth in a later post but having a mobile device with Evernote is often the most convinient way to get your information into Evernote on the go.

See here for more information and availability for Evernote on mobile devices.

Evernote also recently bought a note taking app called Penultimate. This is a notetaking app that works well when combined with a stylus on the iPad. I personally have not looked into this yet but here is a review of using the app with a specific stylus.

Skitch

Skitch is a seperate app by Evernote. This allows you to take screenshots, annotate them quickly, and upload to Evernote. See this video that I created for a tip on using Skitch in research.

Print to Evernote

On the Mac you can use the print dialog screen to send a file directly to Evernote. It appears to me that the Mac App Store version of Evernote and the direct download from their site is slightly different. This is the result of some of Apple’s limitations it puts on developers in order to create a completely safe environment for downloading programs. Unfortunately, many times this does not allow handy features such as “Print to Evernote.”

If you download Evernote directly from their website you will have the “Print to Evernote” feature. This will allow you to send any printable file to Evernote in the form of a searchable PDF.

Third Party Apps

There are numerous third party apps that integrate with Evernote. Integration ranges from just creating a new note to being able to specify notebooks, note titles, tags, and more. Below are some of my most used third party apps.

Byword

Byword is a fantastic distraction free text editor. I prefer to write most of my documents in Markdown. At its core it is very simplified HTML. Now that might sound scary but it is really easy to get the hang of. I find it easier and quicker to write in than using an app like Microsoft Word. With apps like Byword it includes simple keyboard shortcuts for most of your formatting.

After writing your document Byword has a export option that allows you to format and send your document to Evernote.

Popclip

PopClip is a neat little app that brings up options with you highlight text with your mouse. One of their features allows you to highlight any text and send it directly to Evernote.

Drafts (iOS)

Drafts is a great little app for your iOS device. It basically allows you to start writing anything and send to a variety of apps and services. For example, let’s say that I am going to send an email to a friend. I open up the email app and begin my message but before I am finished I think it might be better sent as a text message. I would have to copy and paste the text, close the app, open the text messaging app, and send. With Drafts you start your text in one central location and then send it elsewhere after writing. This allows you to always start any text based input in one location. It integrates with a variety of apps such as Messages, Mail, Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, DayOne, and much more. Check out this LifeHacker article for a more complete overview.

See the video below on how I quickly add book, article, and audio recommendations to one running note in Evernote.

Update: In the previous video that was posted I mentioned that you need to create the note in Evernote first before prepending or appending text but this is incorrect. Drafts will automatically create a new note and then append or prepend subsequent entries. This actually makes the workflow more streamlined and less prone to error due to mislabeling the note. Thanks Greg for reaching out with that correction!

The current video below is the updated video that shows the more streamlined workflow.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. I hope this post was helpful in giving you some ideas on how to get your stuff into Evernote.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Academic Workflow: Text Expander

Introduction

This is a slight step back from my normal posts on biblical studies and theology but it is still related. I love technology, productivity, and academics. I spend a lot of time thinking the best way to integrate technology into my every day life to help me be more productive without distraction. I am often asked by fellow students and friends what I use on my Mac for school. I thought I would provide a series of blog post explaining what I use and how I use it. First on the docket, TextExpander (Mac and iOS only).

I had trouble figuring out what I wanted to talk about first. So much of what I do is integrated with each other it was hard to choose what to do first. I decided to begin with Text Expand because it is at the core of what I do and how I function on my Mac and iOS devices.

TextExpander is one of my all-time favorite Mac apps. It makes typing repetitious items and words a breeze. As part of this academic workflow series I want to highlight how I use Text Expander to increase my productivity in my studies.

First, a description of what the app is. At the core text expander follows your keystrokes on your Mac and will expand certain combinations of letters and characters into a predefine format. In addition to this you can have it paste from your clipboard, format dates however you want, and insert your cursor wherever you want. For example, one of my most used snippets is a date stamp. I use this so I have a systematic way of typing the date every time (and it is more efficient). To do this all I have to type is “.ds” and it will produce the current date in my specified format: 2013–04–26.

Or another common expansion that I use is an email snippet. I type “xgm” and it expands to brenshaw833@gmail.com. I also have many other peoples email in different snippets so I don’t have to worry about looking up their email. As you can see I have a couple different methods for creating my snippets. The goal is to create a shortcut that you would not type in any other scenario. This is the very basics of what Text Expander does.

Form Fields

It also has the ability to do form fields. Form fields bring up a dialog box where you can either enter in certain information or choose different templates you have predefined. For example, one way I use the form field is to form vocabulary lists on Accordance. I often times forget the syntax (or don’t want to type it in) so I created a form field snippet to do this. For this I type “crx” and it brings up this dialog box:

All I have to do is type in the frequency that I want and then the range of verses that I want it to search and it is done. I don’t have to remember which search words to use and whatnot but just the Text Expander snippet.

Optional Selection Form Field

Another dialog box is the optional section. This comes in handy if you do something that is very similar but may require different responses. For example, email signatures. I have different email signatures depending on who I am writing to. Yes, you can input them all into the Mail app or Gmail but this allows for one central location where you can change your signatures and it is easy. I just type “esig;” and it brings up this optional dialog box:

I just click which email signature I would like to add and it inserts it into whatever email client I am using.

HTML Snippets

This is also very helpful in blogging. One aspect that is extremely helpful is providing the correct HTML code for Greek and Hebrew text so my site correctly renders them in the correct font. For example, any text in Greek needs the code

<span lang="el"></span>

What is great about Text Expander is that I can actually have this snippet and then tell Text Expander do insert either my cursor or copied Greek text (from Logos or Accordance) into the correct location and then place my cursor at the end of the HTML code. That way if I copy a verse out of Accordance I then come to my text editor and type “,,pg” and it will expand to

<span lang="el">Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.</span>

That way on the blog it looks like this:

  • Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς .

Instead of this:

  • Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.

Misspelled Words and Capitalizations

One more use is for commonly misspelled words and capitalizations. All you do is add different snippets on how you typically misspell a word. For example, I am terrible at misspelling the word “tongue.” Almost every time I type the word I spell it “tounge”. So I added a snippet that if I type “tounge” it automatically changes it to “tongue”. I also have a list of common miscapitalizations such as iPhone. If I type in iphone or Iphone or any other odd combination it will expand correctly to iPhone.

Conclusion

This is just the basics of TextExpander. In the following posts on my academic workflows I will show different Text Expander snippets that improve my efficiency in the app that I am using. There is no limit to the use that Text Expander to improve your productivity.

The app is $34.95 and can be purchased here. It is well worth the investment. Here is the link to other videos of how TextExpander works. I encourage you to at least try out the free trial and I think you will become a believer too.

If you have any questions or want to know more how I use it feel free to email me at brenshaw833@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

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