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IncrediMetaBeta

Systematic Management of Tags, hierarchical organization of Tags

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I'd like to learn from others how they use tags.  I've used them for years but am dissatisfied with my approach. My clipped notes are for a book I"m writing. 

Can you describe any key successes you have had with tags?  I'd appreciate your insights, methods, successes.

Do you have some process you follow systematically with tags to organize your Notes? 

My tagging "system" is an evolving and chaotic work in progress. I started to organize them hierarchically long ago but "stalled" finishing it. 
 

Oh!  And, can tags be printed?  Can they be exported for printing?

 

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My system is simple: tag descriptively. Tags form a mini vocabulary. Notes live in that vocabulary, just as objects live in the world that we describe with words. Some part of my world (e.g. work) need more rigorous organization (I'm a programmer, so: release numbers, functional areas of the software, etc.), and tags give me the flexibility to do that. Other parts of my life are looser. At some point, I reached an place where I don't need to add tags very often any more (except for work: release numbers keep going up).

The main thing for me is to keep things simple: spend time organizing notes, not tags. I do use the tag hierarchy to keep tag clutter down, but I don't use it to navigate my notes. Most of the time, tag location in the tag tree is irrelevant to my day to day usage; once in a while I'll go in and clean up a bit.

The beauty is that tags are flexible enough to accommodate many uses, and I'm sure that you'll hear from folks who have highly organized systems that work for them. What you need to do is find a system that works for you. And for others to make better suggestions, it would be helpful if you described in more detail what you are trying to do.

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1. I organize my tags in structures; using both naming standards and the hierarchy feature (Windows/Mac)
For example:    !Colour685451236_ScreenShot2018-10-10at12_55_51.png.97ec1767776dc33a06907279f2573162.png
                                 !Colour-Red
                                 !Colour-Blue

I have four top level tags:    ?Who !What @Where .When
All tags are prefixed with the same character as the parent.

2. Assigning tags to a note is not random, I have a controlled process
First tag is note type(s): !Type
                                              !Type-Actionable
                                               ...
                                              !Type-Receipt
The note type drives the remaining tags.  
For example, Actionable notes have a !Project tag
                                                                           !Project-aaaaa     
                        Receipts have a !Vendor tag
                                                         !Vendor-Apple   
                                         and a !Budget tag
                                                           !Budget-Housing   
I use a script (Mac) to control this process; the control note is attached 1728536353_ScreenShot2018-10-10at05_03_43.png.c4f3a992ffb31f2220e0fd903089c089.png
My script also walks through the tag hierarchy.

3. A word about note titles

I also have a controlled process for this, assisted with a script

My standard is:
<subject date> <subject> <description>

 

 

>>Oh!  And, can tags be printed?  Can they be exported for printing?

I can use scripting on a Mac to extract the tags information.
Also, the tag information is stored in a database table and can be accessed using a database app.
- I can copy the information to a .csv file (spreadsheet)

What would be the use case for this?

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I've mentioned in other threads that I have a system that grew out of the one thing I'm really good at - being lazy.  Scanning a lot of documents into Evernote I found - after some experimentation - that the most efficient method was to scan a document to folder,  allowing the scanner to add a date/ time code for the day on which this happened.  Then I'd add a title to the completed document and do any necessary editing - rotating pages / deleting blanks etc - before (or while) scanning the next document.  Later,  I'd OCR everything and move the files into one or more Import Folders to get sucked into Evernote notebooks.

That doesn't leave any obvious holes for applying tags,  so my compromise was to 'tag' in the title.  It's <date> - <type> - <subject> - <keywords> where date is yyyymmdd,  'type' is receipt / letter / clipping etc,  'subject' is the name of the company, person or thing I'm dealing with here,  and 'keywords' is... anything else I might deem relevant.  It's all in low case for consistency (and laziness).

After a while that got repetitive - suppliers,  subjects and contacts kept on coming up in titles,  so I started keeping a note listing a 'standard' for each regular entry forinstance - 20171010 receipt - walmart newport - groceries.  They're in alpha order or <subject> so find an entry,  edit the date for the current scan,  and there's my quick and consistent title.  If one title requires specific keywords ('tags') or has options of keywords ('tags') I'll have more than one line:  so - 

  • 20171010 receipt - walmart newport - groceries
  • 20171008 receipt - walmart newport - office supplies,printer paper
  • 20181010 receipt - walmart bristol - inkjet carts - expenses,<project>

More time passed,  and I moved my list from a note to Workflowy,  because I can collapse lists there and have all those lines under 'walmart' and keep my overall list small.  In fact Workflowy's search feature is so awesome that typing ''wal' gets me just those three entries on an otherwise blank screen so I can copy and paste the correct one into my filename.

The keywords (the end) bit of the title has a comma,  because if I make a note other than by scan,  I may want to copy just that section into a Tag field to generate all the individual tags.

Despite all of the above I still inevitably have random results cropping up in Evernote searches,  which means I may go back and change titles (including my template for that subject),  or add another permanent or temporary tag to a note.

All that means I now have just over 1600 tags,  and a look at the tag page is... unsettling.  There may be a perfect organizational method out there,  but for the moment at least this one works for me! 

YMMV

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48 minutes ago, gazumped said:

Later,  I'd OCR everything and move the files into one or more Import Folders to get sucked into Evernote notebooks.

Some scanners (not mine) do the OCR as part of the scan process.
My process is to not OCR and rely on Evernote's OCR process.  I have an OCR app I use on an as-required basis
I scan directly to the import folder and do all my processing within Evernote

>>The keywords (the end) bit of the title

Is there a difference between keywords and tags?
I'm managing the process with a script (Mac) and it uses the same names.
I also use the keyword/tags within the note contents.

>>20171010 receipt - walmart newport - groceries

I have a similar naming standard.  I also include budget category and $ amount.  I dump the titles into a spreadsheet for number crunching; budgeting and expense reports.

 

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16 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Some scanners (not mine) do the OCR as part of the scan process.

I'm 50/50 at the moment.  I did OCR in the folder,  then Cal (I think) convinced me that it wasn't any slower to OCR on the fly,  so I went to doing that - not entirely convinced (although it's been a year or more since I switched).  I did OCR the (already OCR'd) scans I had in the folder by accident once after a month or two - just habit kicking in - and Adobe completed the process without complaint.  I thought if there was already searchable text in the file Adobe would throw an error.  So I got confused.  Meant to do a proper test and see what was really going on - got sidetracked...  Anyways I blame Cal.  :P

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11 hours ago, IncrediMetaBeta said:

I'd appreciate your insights, methods, successes.

My strategy has been to use as few tags as possible and to have the tag name be representative of the note.  I don't expect tags to get me to THE note, just to a group of notes in which THE note will exist.  For example, an American Express statement would be tagged with Amex and Statement.  Trips I preface with yyyy.mm.dd- such that though I am unlikely to remember the exact date I will remember the year and get quick access to the notes re the trip.  All action tags start with !, people start with =.  I have a PC.Stuff tag, a 123.Main.Street tag for the places I've lived.  Company name tags for companies I do business with, etc.

In summary, broad groupings and easy to remember.  I now have 400 tags for 39k notes after I guess pushing 10 years. YMMV.

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3 hours ago, gazumped said:

I thought if there was already searchable text in the file Adobe would throw an error.  So I got confused.  Meant to do a proper test and see what was really going on - got sidetracked...  Anyways I blame Cal.  :P

My history has been that adobe just overwrites whatever it is that gets stored for text search.  Sometimes if I don't get an aligned scan I use the OCR and align function of Adobe is why I know.

Never had a cockpit error, eh?  :o:o

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4 hours ago, DTLow said:

My process is to not OCR and rely on Evernote's OCR process.

The only downside to this that I recall reading is if you had to migrate the data out of Evernote into another system.  If EN does the OCR you will lose that when going to another system.  If you let the scanner do the OCR the data stays with the document and will migrate with it if exported.  I originally let EN do the OCR but then changed to the scanner when I read this and the change didn't add that much time to the scanning effort (once I upgraded the laptop) so I've kept doing it.  

I've not tested this and don't know if it is true.  Would be interesting to hear if anyone has.

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4 minutes ago, s2sailor said:

The only downside to this that I recall reading is if you had to migrate the data out of Evernote into another system. 

Right, I'll plan up for a 4 day ocr process of all my PDFs.
If my scanner supported OCR, I'd certainly turn it on.

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4 hours ago, gazumped said:

I did OCR in the folder,  then Cal (I think) convinced me that it wasn't any slower to OCR on the fly,

My experience has been that the ScanSnap OCR process completes anywhere from right away to within 5 to 10 seconds, single page to 12 page scans.  Since most of my scans are less than 5 pages, I don't even notice it.  Just did a 4 page simplex, not particularly dense text scan, the OCR'ng box was visible for maybe a second.  And an 8 sheet duplex (that's 16 pages Gaz 😛) fairly dense text scan, the box was visible for just under 5 seconds.  Anyway, quick enough for me.

Also, I've found that scanning by EN doesn't produce the same results as local scanning.  For some searches notes with PDFs are found on my PC but not on IOS or my backup laptop with ODS enabled.  For example a search for PayPal finds 154 notes on my PC and 135 on IOS and the web.  Add a tag on the PC to help ID the notes and the count for the same search becomes 144 on IOS and the web.  Needless to say I don't do text searches anywhere but the PC now.

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3 hours ago, CalS said:

I don't expect tags to get me to THE note, just to a group of notes in which THE note will exist. 

This -- my strategy in a nutshell, though I also often rely on keywords that I know are are contained in the text itself.

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25 minutes ago, jefito said:

This -- my strategy in a nutshell, though I also often rely on keywords that I know are are contained in the text itself.

Ditto.  Tags are step one for me followed by text if needed to shrink the  result set.  Sometimes text first if it is unique enough.

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4 minutes ago, CalS said:

Ditto.  Tags are step one for me followed by text if needed to shrink the  result set.  Sometimes text first if it is unique enough.

Huh -- we do  agree on something. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

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3 minutes ago, jefito said:

Huh -- we do  agree on something. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Enough, I get the point!

images.jpg.daf05dad63eea1f685b0400fd876bdc0.jpg

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Regarding Keywords.  

For those using keywords; do you have any controls in place.
In my use, Tags and Keywords are synomynous, using Evernote's Tag table and hierarchy.
As keywords, I can use the tag in the title and note contents, and in attachments.

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52 minutes ago, DTLow said:

For those using keywords; do you have any controls in place.

What kind of controls do you mean? I just mean words that are certain to occur in the note; the common usage of these are for research and reference web clippings. If I'm uncertain about a particular item, I can always use a tag.

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3 hours ago, CalS said:

My experience has been that the ScanSnap OCR process completes anywhere from right away

Yup.  Scansnaps are scary fast,  and so far I've been very happy with the OCR results.  Only vague warning bell has been that while I can search an OCR'd-by-scanner PDF for individual text terms,  if I then Adobe-scan it,  I apparently get a new OCR file which works just as well.  Yet if I download a searchable PDF file from a website,  trying to OCR that gets me a reproachful "this file already contains searchable text"...

Simply don't know if the first OCR is being overwritten,  or if the Adobe version is a more comprehensive job.

It's a niggle,  nothing more - for the moment...

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3 hours ago, jefito said:

What kind of controls do you mean?

Systematic Management; something like a list to select from.  A hierarchy would be a bonus.

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56 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Something like a list to select from.  A hierarchy would be a bonus.

Nope -- I rely on my internal brain for those... :) 

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3 hours ago, DTLow said:

Regarding Keywords.  

For those using keywords; do you have any controls in place.
In my use, Tags and Keywords are synomynous, using Evernote's Tag table and hierarchy.
As keywords, I can use rhe tag in the title and note contents, and in attachments.

I try to only use tags when there will be multiple notes involved.  Don’t know that I use keywords per se, other than whatever is in the note, product name or account number just some text that I believe should be in the note.  YMMV. 

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