Tag Archives: writing

Writing Tips from Dr. Brian Vickers

In the beginning of my Acts Exegesis seminar with Dr. Brian Vickers he gave us several tips on writing that I thought were helpful:

  • Stop using the backspace key: In this digital age we have trained ourselves to try and produce a perfect draft as we are writing. This causes a number of issues: 1) This does not allow us to freely write down all our thoughts. Indeed, we do learn as we write[1] If we are continually correcting what we are writing this hurts the development process 2) It falsely makes us think that our first draft is our final draft (see point below) 3) It develops a choppy and less coherent (maybe even incoherent!) paper.
  • Learn to write a horrible first draft: Much of what you write should not even make it to your final draft. Building on the point above, the writing process is one of learning and developing as you go.
  • Learn to just write: He suggests developing a good thorough outline. Don’t think of this as a static outline that you must conform your paper to but expect it to change, as it should, during the writing process. By having an outline it gives you a guide and destination to your writing. Too often people write without knowing where they are going or even where they will end. This is reflected in the final draft.
  • Develop a clear and articulate thesis: You should expect your thesis to take many drafts before its final form. I would also add that you should be in conversation with others about your thesis to help aid you in this endeavor.
  • Don’t wait untill the last minute: This should be self explanatory but don’t wait until the day before a writing project is due to gget started.

  1. See points 5 and 6 here.  ↩

How to Write a Lot

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Writing. That daunting tasks that looms ahead of every student and professor. Most people don’t have time to “write a lot” or at least so they think. The 8–10,000 word article sits before us like brocolli sits before a child wanting to get up from the table to play with the other kids. The task has to be done but it is difficult to begin. The book How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia provides many practical tips on how to write a lot or more accurately as he describes in his final chapter How to Write More Productively During the Normal Work Week With Less Anxiety and Guilt (130)." The first three chapters: 1) Introduction 2) Specious Barriers to Writing A Lot and 3) Motivational tools are extremely helpful. The final four chapters provide many helpful tidbits but overal are focus more specifally for writing for the sciences.

Writing is hard and not natural. The act of writing takes practice, determination, and a set plan. Far too often academics long for the days off, spring breaks, and summer vacations to “get writing done” but then complain afterwards because of how much they did not accomplish. Writing is a skill that needs developed not a talent that comes naturally (6). Silvia provides four “specious barriers” that inhibit the writing process:

(1) “I can’t find time to write” also known as “I would write more if I could just find big blocks of time (11).” This is a blatant lie. Don’t believe it. Productive writing comes in smaller scheduled chunks throughout the week. If you are trying to find time to write then you will never find time but will fall into the trap of “binge writing.” This means that you have one “successful” 6 hour writing period every couple weeks and it makes you feel good inside. Don’t believe the lie. Rather, allocate your time throughout the week to write and defend it as you would your teaching schedule, time with family, and other activities that are important to you.

(2) *“I need do to some more analyses first,” aka, “I need to read a few more articles* (18).” Use your scheduled writing time to do “prewriting” as well. If you need to review some more research then do it during your scheduled time. This is help not hinder your productive writing if you are on a schedule.

(3) “To write a lot, I need new computer (see also a ”laser printer,“ ”a nice chair,“ ”a better desk") (19). This is just a lame excuse!

(4) “I’m waiting until I feel like it,” aka “I write best when I’m inspired to write” (23). Waiting for “inspiration” does not work.

We all need motiviation to help us continue writing. The third chapter outlines several motivational methods for writing:

  1. Setting specific goals
  2. Setting project goals
  3. Set concrete goals for each writing day

Goal setting is needed when it comes to writing constantly If you run out of specific goals then you are likely to become disinterested and forget why you are writing. Next, you need to write down specific project goals (journal article, thesis, book section, etc.). This allows you to track and prioratize your goals. Once you have completed steps one and two you need to write down concrete goals for the writing session (number of words, pages to research, articles to review, etc.) Everyday can’t be a certain amount of words because writing involves more than just writing it takes preperation, research, and revisision. Finally, you should monitor your progress so you can look back and see how well (or poorly!) you did. Oh, and writers block only happens to those who believe in writers block…writing begets writing so take up and write (38)!

As I said in the introduction the first three chapters are chocked full of wisdom and practical advice (along with a swift kick in the butt to get to writing!). The fourth chapter encourages you to form a writing group to help you with peoples individual goals. Chapter five examines writing helps specifically in the style of your writing. Silvia notably points out that the writing and editing process are not one in the same. Write then edit do not try to do both at the same time. Chapters 6–8 are specifically focused on writing for the sciences. Many of the same principles can be used for other fields of writing (such as theology) but practically they are aimed for a different audience.

Overall, I found this book a helpful motivator to begin writing more. I hope to take many of the principles—especially in scheduling and goal setting—in my academic career. Did I mention that it is also only 132 pages so it is an easy read for one session.

Book Review: Stylish Academic Writing

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Flip open to many academic journals and you are greeted with dense and specialized prose, default structure, and a writing style that has been passed down from supervisor to student for many years. The stuffy academic prose hinders the reader from engaging, understanding, and yes, even enjoying the research and arguments that is taking place. Helen Sword, professor at the Centre for Academic Development at the University of Auckland, specializes in literature, teaching philosophy and academic writing. Stylish Academic Writing argues that “elegant ideas deserve elegant expression” and that even in the academic world writing can be engaging and imaginative while still keeping within the professionalism that the guild requires. The research behind the book engaged in many interviews with scholars, an analysis of thousands of journal articles, and further investigation into 100 recent books on academic writing.

By default most academics do not engage in “stylistic” writing. First, writers must be open to new ways of presenting their ideas and then discipline themselves to write in such a way that is not stuffy and filled with jargon from the profession. Sword argues that writers learn from (29):

  1. memories of what our dissertation supervisor told us
  2. peer feedback
  3. examples in journals

Scholars tend to focus on styles that have been the norm within the writing they encounter rather than branching out and innovating new writing styles that are more engaging and enjoyable to the reader.

Sword addresses a variety of writing situations that create this dense prose that exists within the academy. She begins with the impersonable way in which many writers present their work. Why do writers try to engage the reader in the third person? This creates a distance between you the writer and the reader. If we write to change the mind of the reader then writing in the third person is contrary to this goal (44). Another way to become more engaging in the writing process is to use concrete language for abstract concepts. Much of our research (especially in my context of theology and biblical studies) is in the abstract but we as writers can give a concreteness to our language by taking abstract thoughts and making them more concrete. Academic prose is often filled with “to be” and passive verbs. Try changing many of your “to be” and passive verbs with “active and unusual verbs” (60).

Movies, fictional novels, and short stories generally are experts at captivating the audiences attention from the start. Writers do this in two ways: the title of the work and the introductory paragraph or scene of the piece. Sword challenges writers to come up with catchy titles that are also descriptive of the work. This is most often seen in the two-part title: Catchy Title: Descriptive Title. Sword also challenges the way in which many writers introduce their work. Too often academic article follow the same dull “4 step process” with the CARS method (77):

  1. Establish the research is significant
  2. Summarize previous research
  3. Present the gaps in the research
  4. Answer the gaps

The article needs a “hook” which engages the reader. She says, “an effective first paragraph need not be flashy, gimmicky, or even provocative. It must, however, make the reader want to keep reading” (84). She notes that in many of the journals that she examined generally one or two of the articles supplied a “hook” for the reader. Begin the work with a question, anecdote, conversation, or other methods in “hooking” the reader to keep reading the article.

In order to stray away from the abstract writing scholars should employ a variety of literary techniques in the writing such as using exmaples, anecdotes, case studies, figurative devices, allusions, and analogies (101–102). This will “revive the readers attention” (100). She provides a helpful paradigm for practicing integrating this into your writing (110–111):

  1. Choose a bland sentence of your writing
  2. Find the subject and come up with concrete similes
  3. Transform the noun into one of the figurative devices
  4. Push the limits
  5. Rework it into your sentence.

Overall, this books provides many helpful ways into making you into a better and more engaging writer. The book is filled with actual examples from academic journals and books and Sword carefully analyzes these examples and provides alternative ways of writing for each one. The end of each chapter provides a “Things to try” section that shows you how to actually improve your writing. Rather than staying in the abstract and theoretical she guides you into transforming your writing with specific steps. After reading this book I have noticed many areas in my own writing in need of improvement and will be implementing many of the suggestions noted in this short but helpful book.

∞ On Writing: Sometimes Less is More

From the Chronicle: Vitae

When you write first thing in the morning, and then stop writing for the rest of the day, your mind will continue to process thoughts related to your project. Take advantage of that. One of the best ways is to go for a walk alone and without any electronic devices. Use the time to process your thoughts. Think back on what you have written for the day and about what you will do the next day. You may be surprised about the revelations you have about your writing when you are not writing. You may even wish to take a notepad with you on these strolls.

Link

This is really a great article. But with all articles like this the insights gleaned are useless unless you (I) act upon it.

HT: Jonathan Pennington

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.

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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 Academics: Day 02 – Tagging vs. Notebooks

Introduction

If you do a quick Google search for “organizing Evernote”, “tagging vs. notebooks”, or “Evernote file management” you might be quickly overwelmed about all the “answers” and “solutions” to how to organize Evernote.

Well, I guess I have good news and bad news for you. The good news: there is no “right” answer. The bad news: it generally takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Below I will outline the basics of notes, notebooks, notebook stack, and tags. This series isn’t necessarily focused on an in-depth “how to” but rather to give you some basic ideas and principles on using Evernote. If you are wanting some help getting started creating any of these I will provide a link at the end of each section for you. The videos at the end of the post are not meant to rehash the text of the post but to show you some additional tips pertaining to this topic.

Click here for a basic getting started guide

Notes

Notes are the most basic component of Evernote. These can store basically any type of information ranging from just typed text to image files to PDFs. This is where you will input all your information. For my purposes most of my notes are typed text. Evernote allows you to format the text as you would in a typical word processor (i.e. Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, etc.). This means you can bold, italicize, and underline your text. Create tables, bulleted lists, and enumerated lists. You can also hyperlink text to other notes and external websites. Basically any formatting you want to add to your text you are free to do so.

One of the great aspects about notes in Evernote is that you can have multiple files within the note in addition to text. For example, if you are reading an article you can screenshot a section of the article, add it to Evernote, and then add your commentary on the related section. See video below.

Personally, I tend to keep my notes very brief and have multiple notes within a notebook. I find this organizational strategy more effective when going back to review notes.

For help creating notes click here.

Notebooks

These are a collection of notes. There are two different types of notebooks: local and synchronized. If you want your notebooks available on multiple devices choose the default, synchronized notebook. A local notebook is only store on the machine it was created on and will not synchronize to other devices. You can have unlimited notes in a single notebook.

Notebook Stacks

Notebook stacks are groups of notebooks. The one caveat to notebook stacks is they can only go down one level. For example, if you have a notebook stack called Student you can have multiple notebooks in this stack but you can’t have notebooks within those notebooks. In a traditional file system you can have as many folders within a folder as you want but Evernote limits this to one level. I used to balk at this idea because I like the hierarchal structure of a file system and having many folders within a folder but I have found that Evernote’s solution is perfect for their system because it keeps your Evernote database clean and structured. With the powerful search features of Evernote you never have to worry about digging through an endless line of notebooks to get to a file.

Go here for a short tutorial on how to create Evernote Notebook Stacks

Tags

Tags are a way to group similar notes across notebooks. Unlike notebooks you can have multiple tags on a single note (Notes can only be in one notebook at a time). For example if you have a note about the history of interpretation of Matthew you could theoretically tag it with: history of interpretation, Matthew, Gospels and include it in your Biblical Studies Notebook. If you wanted to see all your notes on Matthew you can search for the Matthew tag and it will bring up all the notes tagged “Matthew” regardless of what notebook it is in.

If you are going to use tagging I suggest these three basic tips, which are by no means unique to me:

  1. Create a standardized tagging system. Decide before hand if you will use singular or plural tags. In the above example you may tag one note Gospel but another note Gospels. This ruins the purpose of tagging because now you have to search for two seperate tags for the same idea.
  2. Keep tags broad or for very specific purposes such as individual projects. I will address this more below.
  3. Don’t be afraid to review your tagging system and modify it later. Evernote makes it very easy to edit tags for multiple notes at once.

For some helpful tips on tagging see this post.

Update: Here is another helpful post on tagging and searching in Evernote.

How I Use Tags and Notebooks

Using tags and notebooks may seem simple at first. The example I gave above with the note on the history of interpretation of Matthew seems great for a single use. But what if you have hundreds or thousands of notes with 3–4 tags each? This can be daunting and you will soon most likely lose track of what tags you have used. At one point I think I had upwards of 600 different tags in Evernote in a database around 1,000 notes. This means that my tags were either singular or plural for the same idea or too specific so I only had one note labeled with a certain tag.

A couple months ago I deleted all my tags and I am in the process of retagging my notes with a specific system. I now use many notebooks with fewer tags and specific tags. Most of my Evernote database consists of biblical studies related material so I have now created a biblical studies notebook with a more simple tagging scheme.

  • If a note pertains to one book I tag it with that book (i.e. Matthew)
  • Since sometimes my studies involve different sections of the bible I also broadly tag the grouping of that book (i.e. Matthew, Gospel). This way if I am doing research on the Gospels I can search the “Gospel” tag and see all my notes with Matthew-John in there for I can dig a little deeper and just look at notes on Matthew.
  • If a note is original language specific I either tag it with Greek or Hebrew. For example, if I have a note pertaining to grammar on Matthew I will tag it Greek, Matthew, and Gospel.
  • Finally, I use tags for specific projects. Instead of creating a seperate notebook for a project and moving my notes from one place to another I instead add a tag. For example, when I was working on a paper in my James class I just tagged everything pertaining to my research “James paper”

I don’t just have articles and notes related to biblical studies but in many other areas of theology as well. I haven’t come up with a specific tagging system yet for these types of notes so I am leaving them without tags. Evernote’s powerful search capabilities will help me find what I need regardless.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. I hope this short post will help you get organized using Evernote. To sum up, I would recommend using many Notebooks with Notebook Stacks along with a few very specific tags. But there is no right or wrong way to organize Evernote. You may find that you work better by dumping everything into one notebook and using tags for organization or you may choose not to use tags at all. My only warning though is that if you use too many tags it does tend to get overwelming and ends up not being useful.

Below I have included a couple videos in addition to the content above.

  1. How I organize my notes (using an “Inbox” notebook and some Notebook naming schemes).
  2. Using Skitch to capture a screenshot of an article, adding it to Evernote, and then adding some commentary on the note.
  3. Quickly add tags to multiple notes, create a table of contents for a notebook, and how to move notes from one notebook to the next.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave a comment below. I would love to interact with you and help with your Evernote organization.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Evernote for Academics: Day 01 – Series Introduction

Evernote’s slogan is “remember everything”. They mean it. You can literally store (basically) anything you want into Evernote. In fact you can store almost anything and access it on almost any device (Apple, Windows, Android, Amazon, web browser, etc). The fact that you can do this makes it either a powerful tool or just an application that sits there unused. Imagine the library when you first began your academic career. It was (or is!) overwelming. You know there are thousands of resources at your fingertips ready to assist your research. But there is so much there and you don’t know where to begin. That feeling is similar to getting started with a tool like Evernote. As a student you either asked for guidance and received help in navigating the library and making it work for you or you pushed through and tried to figure it out yourself, which probably involved much more trial and error than seeking assistance. In the same way I hope this Evernote series provides you with the assitance to make Evernote work for you. It is a powerful tool that can transform you academic life as a student or a teacher.[1] This series will provide the basics to using Evernote that are especially pertinent in the academic realm. Once you know the basics you can begins to piece together workflows that will improve your productivity in your career.

To stretch the library metaphor a bit longer, the library probably offered many tools and services that no one ever told you about. Sure, you know the library has books and journals. But did you know there were more powerful ways of researching rather than picking all the books off the shelf that had your topic in the title? Maybe you learned that the library can obtain books that they don’t have. Or you realized that there is more to searching for journal articles online than just typing in a couple keywords. Or maybe there are vast resources that you didn’t even know existed! Well, Evernote works in the same way. You know that it can “remember everything” but what all can you do with it? That is the second part that I hope to accomplish with this series. Along the way I will give practical uses that either I use or know of others that use Evernote in different ways. It is my hope that this will inspire you to either adopt some of these practices and/or create your own unique uses. I want Evernote to work for you in whatever situation you are in.

What will this series cover?

Here is the tentative outline for the series. If you have any topics that you would like me to cover please leave a comment, tweet me (@renshaw330), or email me (brenshaw833@gmail.com). Each section will include both a written post and video tutorial(s).

  1. Introduction
  2. Your Evernote philosophy (tagging vs. notebooks)
  3. Getting your stuff into Evernote
  4. Searching within Evernote
  5. Use as a student
  6. Academic research workflows

Following my posts I will have some guest posts of current users of Evernote explaining how they make Evernote work for them. If you are interested in writing a guest post on how you use Evernote please either comment or send me an email.

I am excited for this series. I know many people who like the “idea” of Evernote but don’t know where to get started. There are others who “use” it but not to its full capabilities. Then there are others of you that are advanced users who could probably teach me a few things! Whatever level you are at I hope that this series will be beneficial for you.

Watch this short overview from Evernote below:


  1. Intergrating it in your whole life is great too but this series will primarily focus on the academic side.  ↩

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Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

If you would like to subscribe to the blog via RSS click here. If you would rather receive updates via email click here to sign up

Follow me on Twitter – @renshaw330