Note taking in the modern world

 In Comment

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Put down the pen and paper and join the modern note taking world.

Note taking in the modern worldHave you taken a look and Microsoft’s OneNote or Evernote?

No more hunting for your notepad as you can take notes on your Phone, PC or Tablet and these systems can share across various platforms – so let’s take a look.


Whilst Evernote is available for virtually every type of mobile device you can think of it really took off with the arrival of the iPad and Android platforms. At one stage this was claimed to be the most heavily used Notebook app in the world and had 11 million users in July 2011 (source Wikipedia)

It uses a notebook structure so that you can organise things like your:-

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  • Notes into note books for topics
  • Collect together web-clips with the ability to clip from webpages
  • Search Notes
  • You can share, collaborate and discuss in real time
  • It instantly synchs with the devices you choose

Notes can be taken using a keyboard or on some platforms by writing using a Stylus. We particular like this when used with the Adonit range of intelligent styli on an iPad which allow you to rest your wrists on the screen

Stylus Adonit

Image courtesy of Adonit

Knowing that you took a note is one thing but being able to search for it and to share with colleagues really does take this to a new level.

Evernote makes it really easy to grab pieces of a website and include those web-clips in a document. Imagine that you have a trainee carrying out some work for you they could type you a text document but this way you can  have clips of images and sites that they think are relevant to the subject that you have asked them to research. You can click through and add notes yourself. For example you could tell them to research more in one area than another. A word document would have left you reading a dry document. This has you communicating in real time with your team so you can meet both your business and your client objectives faster and more effectively.

The real beauty of Evernote is the ability to access your notes on almost any platform – it even has a version that runs on a Pebble Watch – although we are not sure whether a Judge would look kindly to you continuously checking your wrist in court!

Evernote has various subscriptions models. For Business use you would probably want to go for the highest level which is currently £34.99 a year.

One Note

This has been sitting as part of Microsoft Office for many years and so many people don’t even know it is there let alone what it can do. Microsoft first aimed this at the student market when they introduced the first tablet PC’s that came with a flip around screen. A number of them came with pen entry too. Being a fan of pen and paper and notes for the way my memory worked this made the transition more natural. Originally you could write with a stylus and have manuscript notes that you could choose whether to update or not.

The program has evolved and taken account of the modern tablet but continued to offer the option of pen entry. Interestingly a recent study confirmed that students actually remembered more when they had taken manual notes than when they had typed notes. Interesting! Now you can take the manual notes but on a pc. Later convert those to your chosen typeface and not worry about reading your notes years later. Add to that the benefit of being able to search. No more crawling through paper files just open your phone tablet or laptop and search for your chosen item.

Microsoft realised to maintain market they needed to offer this on a cross platform basis and as well as Windows it is now available on Android and iPad.

OneNote now offers the facilities to do the following:-

  • Clip webpages to view on or offline
  • Get emails added to your notebook if you have set up email
  • Add Photos with office lens
  • Search your notes
  • Synch your notes across devices
  • Share your notebooks so you can collaborate with friends and colleagues

OneNote image

Web clipping in OneNote

OneNote is included in the cost of Microsoft Office and Syncs its notes using Microsoft’s OneDrive.

In conclusion both OneNote and Evernote are powerful tools allowing the taking, sharing, and enhancing of notes across multiple devices. Which one you choose may depend on the systems you already have. For us as heavy users of Microsoft Office, OneNote seemed the obvious choice.

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