Should you be using Evernote?

Have you heard of Evernote? Have you downloaded it but are not sure how to use it? Are you looking for ways to use Evernote to help you with school? We got you!

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a note-taking and note-organizing software. It is free to use and download, unless you decide to be fancy and pay for a premium account.

What can it do?

Well, at its most straightforward, you can write notes in Evernote and then access your notes from any device that has Evernote downloaded (ipad, tablet, phone, desktop, etc.) This makes Evernote good for taking notes on the go, anywhere you go!

Evernote also organizes your notes by notebook (of course!) or by major themes. For example, you could have notebooks named: Postcolonial Theory; Getting Published; Field Notes; Comprehensive Exams; Running To Do Lists; Creative Ideas; 2017 Life Goals; Dissertation Bibliography; etc.

Then for each individual note you write, you can tag them with keywords. So imagine you write a note synthesizing Gayatri Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak? You read it for your Postcolonial Theory 101 class, so naturally you’d put this note in it your Postcolonial Theory notebook. Then you could tag the note with “subaltern” and “bibliography”, so that later (maybe while writing your final) you can search for all the subaltern theorists you’ve read this semester. And let’s say you write this note on your ipad at a coffee shop, later when you got home, you could search “bibliography” to recall which articles you wanted to add to your growing Zotero or Endnote library.

What can it really do though?

So many things! Seriously. Let’s explore some options.

Sharing is Caring

One of the nice features of Evernote is that you can share notes with friends who also have Evernote. This is great for doing group projects or if you and your crew want to take turns taking and sharing class notes. But it’s also great for just generally sharing ideas with friends. I currently have a “Book Club” notebook where my 3 friends and I add books we want to read to a running list. Then, after we read a book, we post reviews of it to notes in our notebook. And we even have a note, ranking them.


I had actually downloaded but never used Evernote much until I started my ethnographic fieldwork. After tapping out of dropbox, I was looking for an unlimited cloud source to back up my fieldnotes. So I decided to use evernote.

I was paranoid that my computer would die while I was in Brazil or my fieldwork notebooks could be stolen from a bag snatch on the street. So I had my sister download Evernote, from her house in NY, and log into my account from her computer. She would then open Evernote on her computer once a week, just to let it sync up with my computer in Brazil (which it does in seconds!), and then keep it moving. Beyond backing up my fieldnotes, I was also able to organize my entries by date, events and keywords, which would later be invaluable when I was analyzing data and writing. Initially, I tagged notes in my Field Notes notebook with terms like “participant observation”, “interviews”, “sermons” (I worked with churches) or “newspapers”. Then as my research grew, I even began tagging (or coding) entries more specifically, with themes like “morality”, “gender”, “racism”, “institutions” or “nationalism”.

Pin it.

Another cool feature is that Evernote lets you pin webpages, articles and photos to your notes. Let’s say you were preparing to publish and not perish. You could go into your “Getting Published” notebook and link a potential journal’s submission guidelines webpage to a note where you have brainstormed article ideas for that journal. Web clipping is super easy given the downloadable button with the Evernote logo on it (just like Pinterest). You just click, add tags, and you’re done.

Should I get premium?

If you are questioning whether getting premium is worth it, the answer depends on how much content you expect to upload/ use.

If you work with photocopies, audio clips, want to import articles, etc., you may want to consider it. Premium accounts allow you to upload up to 10GB monthly.

In the field, I collected a bunch of newspapers, brochures, and flyers that I did not have the space to stuff into my one suitcase and bring home with me. So instead, I took pictures of them and uploaded them to Evernote (along with all my actual field photos). Bam!

Okay, not all that exciting I know. BUT, with a premium account, you can upload way more content AND you can search text through pictures as well. BOOM! So, I was able to do things like search all my fieldnotes and my supplementary materials for references to “tourism” and Evernote would produce typed notes, pdf articles and pictures of written materials with the word “tourism” in them. Keep in mind that if you get a research grant, you can add the cost of premium Evernote to your budget requests.

Saving audio notes (yep, those long, long interviews) has also made Evernote amazing for my graduate research because, again, I have it backed up on all my (and my sister’s) devices. That really came in handy the afternoon I realized I’d left my voice recorder, with all my interviews, on a Brazilian public bus.   

These are just some of the many, many, many ways that people can use Evernote. Evernote may be exactly what you need to organize all the random bits of info, articles, to do lists and thoughts you have scattered in all those different notebooks and Google docs. Instead get Evernote and put them all in one, organized and digitized space, just in time for Finals!
Share in the comments below how you use Evernote!

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