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(Archived) tags or notebooks?


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It always puzzles me which is better, tags or notebooks and how best to organise my notes.  Someone said in a blog use notebooks as folders and tags for things that are consistent across those folders - eg meetings is a tag, individual clients are notebooks.  That made sense.


On the recent evernote update about the new windows update see below




(Have attached a snip of the note)


In the section under NOTE INFORMATION they  show a NOTEBOOK called NY with a TAG called New York.


If the note is in the NY notebook in the first place - why do you need the tag NEW YORK?


Or am I just missing something here?  Surely if the note is about New York you just put it in the NY folder...why bother with the tag?


OR is it to ensure that you dont miss any notes that have NY or NEW YORK written in them?


More confused now, having thought I worked out my system....




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  • Level 5*

...And the note seems to be titled "New York Trip" too!


I wouldn't read too much into something put together as an example.  If you're happy with the system you use now,  don't change because of this.  I use minimum notebooks,  minimum tags and informative titles,  and rely on the search syntax to find what I need.  Tags I use if and when searches give me too many hits,  and I can't find a better way to get to get to the notes I need.  Then I'll tag those notes so it's quicker and more convenient to get to them.  The most important thing is to use a system with which you're comfortable,  and can apply consistently.  And have fun while you find things!

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I use notebook for things that have as far as possible a 1:1 relationship to the notebook and tags where there can be a one to many or many to many relationship

I have stacks for key areas of my work or home life that i use as a knowledge base ie

Work sales

Work service delivery

Work processes

Work people






Personal development


I have sub notebooks for further categorising things I.e in hobbies I have music listening, playing music, computer, fishing

I have two stacks for actions I.e work actions and personal actions

Within these both have the following notebooks

Pending to dos

Regular to dos

Elephant tasks. This contains things like lists of albums to buy, movies to watch, things to collect

To buy

I then use tags as contexts I.e a note can exist in one notebook but use multiple tags as contexts

I group my tags into the following groups:

00 What – Critical Success Area e.g. Repeat of knowledge base folders so although it is in one folder it can relate to many

01 When e.g contains tags now next soon someday waiting

02 Priority e.g high medium low

03 Urgency e.g high medium low

04 Who – Responsible e.g contains tags for all the people doing stuff I'm interested in

05 Who – Audience e.g has people I work with and friends and family

06 How – Action Type e.g read, write present, visit etc.

07 Where e.g locations, rooms etc.

20 Effort Level. E.g quick win, high medium and low

21 Cost Level e.g I setup $ranges

22 Waiting On

23 Target Month

30 PM Discipline

31 ITIL Area

32 Org Area

Now a note can for example exist in sales and be tagged with multiple what where and who type tags

Notes in the action notebooks always tagged with who what when where how type tags and when completed moved to the appropriate knowledge base folder.

I also have a few odd notes books such as things which I use as an inventory

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My rule of thumb is: use notebooks where you must, use stacks for convenience, and otherwise use tags.

Scenarios where you must use notebooks:

* You wish to share a number of notes with someone else: you can only share individual notes or whole notebooks.

* You wish to keep a set of notes unsynced to the Evernote cloud: you must use a local notebook for this, on clients that have this capability (the desktop clients).

* You wish to make a set of notes available to a mobile client when you're offline: you use an offline notebook for this case.

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Dear All

Thank you for your feedback, has been incredibly helpful.  Shows the power of evernote in being something for everyone.  Ultimately it is for each user to determine what works best.

So I will take the insights away.

(I hope that the Evernote team also think about the way they tag/notebook etc in their demos to avoid my brain being fuzzled!

thank you



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