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