I heard about Evernote a few years ago when I read a post about using it to organize your blog. After playing around with it for a few weeks, I started writing my class notes in it, and I haven’t looked back since! Now I use it for almost all of my classes, and I’m going to break down how I organize my Evernote specifically for college.
So first of all, what is Evernote?
Evernote is a note-taking workspace that allows you to organize anything you want to write about into digital notes and notebooks. It’s super easy to use and has a gorgeously simple interface, so you can take notes distraction-free while having all sorts of functionality!
One of the best parts about Evernote is that you can use it on almost all of your devices, like an iPhone, iPad, or your laptop. I downloaded the iPhone and Mac application, and I leave the app open on my laptop so I can easily get to my notes!
Organizing Your Classes
First you want to decide which classes can be housed on Evernote, and which ones probably require a regular notebook. Personally, I use Evernote for all of my non-math classes, which usually require some extra symbols that aren’t easy to type out without a shortcut cheat sheet. Right now, I’m using Evernote for my government and world literature class!
Next, you need to create some notebooks! I like making a new notebook for each class, so I have everything I need inside one space. To make a new notebook, just click on the little plus sign at the top of the page and enter your class’s name. Here’s what your notebook collection will end up looking like:
As for my notes, I have a really simple system going. Every lesson gets its own note, titled with the date of the lesson and the main topic. From there, I organize my notes into blocks like this:
Here I’ll list the main points covered in the lesson, which makes it easy to refresh myself about what’s in that note.
Any words that the professor defined or emphasized go here!
This is where all the general stuff goes, and I separate each point with a space so it’s easy to read and distinguish different ideas.
If the professor directly says that something will be on the test, I make note of that here. This is also where I’ll write about any homework or upcoming tests!
Here’s an example of one of my notes from government:
Helpful Evernote Features
You could easily take digital notes in Word or a text editor, but there are some features in Evernote that make it worth the download.
You can search your notes for any word/phrase
The search function is incredibly helpful when you’re doing homework or studying and need to look up something specific. Just go into the class’s notebook, enter the word/phrase you’re looking for in the box at the top, and Evernote will pull up any notes that have that keyword in it and highlight it!
Tag your notes to be even more organized
When you create a note, you can tag it with a keyword like “important” or “look over later”. Then, you can pull up any notes tagged with that keyword by going to the tag section from the navigation on the side of the page. This can be useful for dividing up a class into different sections, like when your professor goes over a certain topic for a few weeks. It’s also great for remembering which notes you need to tidy up or study over again!
Easily pull up your notes on your phone
I don’t know about you, but when I’m walking into a class on test day, I always feel the need to look over my notes one last time! Having the Evernote app on my phone makes it super easy to pull up my notes and scroll through them or search for a specific topic I need to brush up on.
Drag and drop images or PDF’s
One of my favorite features is the ability to drag pictures or PDF’s directly into your notes! This was super helpful in my Art History class, where every lesson we were analyzing art and I needed to save the images.
If you’re in a literature class or something that requires reading online documents, the PDF feature is perfect for you! You can just save the reading online and drag it into your note for easy access later. There’s also an annotation feature available in the Premium version of Evernote, which I’ll talk about later!
When is upgrading a good idea?
Evernote is a free program, but there are also Plus and Premium options. I haven’t upgraded to either, but there are some great features you can get if you do! The main difference between the Basic (free) and Plus options is just more space. This is definitely useful if you’re adding tons of images and PDF’s, but if you’re not, you really don’t need it.
As for the Premium option, the only feature that seems really useful is PDF annotation. It lets you add text and draw on any PDF’s you drag into a note, which would really useful if you’re doing lots of readings in your class and need to mark certain lines or add comments to an online book! Like I said, it’s up to you if you think it’s worth the price (it’s $49.99 a year).
Other reasons to use Evernote
I use Evernote for several reasons other than school notes, mainly because it’s easy to access them everywhere and I don’t have to lug around 5 notebooks or planners with me! Here are some other note ideas for using Evernote in your daily life:
- An ongoing to-do list
- A grocery list
- A blog planner
- An “important date” list
Do you use Evernote for school? I’d love to hear about any tips you have!