stanwelks

(Archived) When to make new notebooks vs. just new notes?

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I'm trying to understand when to make a new notebook vs. just a note in an existing notebook. Attached is a screenshot of my Evernote notebook. In each of these notebooks I have notes, I am now wondering if I should just have one notebook with all of these notes? In general, when do you want to create new notebooks for vs. just adding new notes to existing notebooks?

Thanks.

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I only use Notebooks for broad and wide categories - Work, Home, Finance, Leisure, Politics, Miscellaneous, and Pending (my inbox notebook).

I let Tags and the Titles handle the fine detail for each note.

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Ok, so this sounds like something key that I am missing here. Do you tag each note so you can search for it later? Can you give me an example of how you use tags?

Thanks!

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As Jbenson said, broad categories (with lots of potential notes) can be organized with notebooks. Thinking of folders may help.

But a case can also be made for very few (or just one) notebook(s). TAGS add granularity to your setup i.e. a tag "receipts" will find all your receipts, no matter where they are in a notebook ("Private" or "Work" could be examples of notebooks).

EN lets you organize your notes in many ways.

It all depends on your needs. I use notebooks often for certain projects. All project related info goes to that notebook.

There is no "right" number of notebooks. There are power users here who have only one notebook.

Wern

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Ok, so this sounds like something key that I am missing here. Do you tag each note so you can search for it later? Can you give me an example of how you use tags?

Thanks!

Tags and well-structured Titles can make the Evernote search engine do magic.

The subject of tags could fill a book (several books). There are many ways to use Evernote. Other users will rely more heavily on just the Evernote search engine. So don't think that what I am about to mention is the best method, but since you asked....

My notes will frequently have more than a single tag.

I use a Parent / Child tag structure. I do not go further than 2 levels.

The child level tags usually have a 3 character prefix. Example:

Company

Com-Amazon

Com-Charter

Com-Target

To find all the children, I would search for tag:Com-*

There are many possibilities.

Parent / Child prefix

Family / Fam-

Government / Gov-

Insurance / Ins-

Medical / Med-

Personal / Per-

Taxes / Tax-

By the way, I find the BitQwik program helpful in seeing the big picture of my tags. It has a feature called Tag Hunter. The program also reduces / eliminates the need to remember the Evernote search grammar rules.

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I'm trying to understand when to make a new notebook vs. just a note in an existing notebook.

Notebooks can represent a wide variety real world objects.

  • They can be very broad, like "Business", "Personal", or even your entire college career ("College").
  • Or they can be somewhat narrower, like college subjects as in Physics, Math, English, etc.
  • Or even narrower as in the NB for a specific class in a specific subject: "Physics 101".
  • Or, just like in the real world, NB can be as narrow as a physical file folder that contains only a few pages on some very specific topic/event.

Two other big considerations for NB:

  1. You can share a collection of Notes by Notebook
  2. You can store locally Notes on your mobile device by Notebook.

You also have available "Stacks", which can contain multiple NB. NB may NOT contain other NB.

  • So, for example, you might have a Stack named "Physics", with a NB for each class of Physics.

You combine NB and Tags to achieve the organization that works best for you.

You might do a Google search on "how to organize evernote".

This will return a number of articles that can give you more detailed guidance and examples.

If at this point a specific organization does not seem obvious to you, then I'd suggest that you start with as few NB as you can, and use Tags where you might have previously used sub-folders on a computer.

As you learn more, keep doing Google searches on the specifics. The forum search is not too good here, and a general Google search will likely include forum posts if you include the word "Evernote" in the Google search.

But don't let fear of bad organization stop you or slow you down. Just start creating Notes as you need them, even if they are all in one NB.

In fact, I forgot to mention one special NB that many people use: I have named it "Inbox". It is just a normal NB with the name of "Inbox". It is where all my Notes initally go until I have a change to file them -- just like your physical inbox, or like your email inbox.

Be warned: use of Evernote can become addicting, and you may become very dependent upon it. ;)

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Ok, so I'm confused about how tags would be any more efficient than multiple notes/notebooks. How many tags do people typically use? I stopped using tags very early on because I suspected that my tag list would quickly become too long - I could easily run up 100 tags, and scrolling through them (can they even be sorted alphabetically?) would be annoying. Here's a screenshot of my tags list; am I using them right? Any tips on how to use them more efficiently??

EvernoteTags_zps3a7b147a.png

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Yes, they can be sorted alphabetically — as the list in your screenshot is.

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Ok, so I'm confused about how tags would be any more efficient than multiple notes/notebooks. How many tags do people typically use? I stopped using tags very early on because I suspected that my tag list would quickly become too long - I could easily run up 100 tags, and scrolling through them (can they even be sorted alphabetically?) would be annoying. Here's a screenshot of my tags list; am I using them right? Any tips on how to use them more efficiently??

In EN, it's best to use a general notebook & differentiate with tags (like was said above.) IE, I have a notebook "Medical". I put all medical info in there & differentiate between family members with tags. Evernote limits you to 250 notebooks. So using many notebooks will cause you to reach that number fairly quickly. I have over 55,000 notes & have never reached 250 notebooks.

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Ok, so I'm confused about how tags would be any more efficient than multiple notes/notebooks. How many tags do people typically use? I stopped using tags very early on because I suspected that my tag list would quickly become too long - I could easily run up 100 tags, and scrolling through them (can they even be sorted alphabetically?) would be annoying. Here's a screenshot of my tags list; am I using them right? Any tips on how to use them more efficiently??

I might not be the typical Evernote user, but I'll toss in a few of my thoughts anyways.

Too many tags? I've got just over 1,100 tags. The parent / child setup mentioned earlier helps keep similar tags grouped together.

Too much scrolling? The parent / child set up allows large groups of tags to be hidden and avoid the scrolling. In my situation, I don't even use the Left Panel. I keep it completely closed (F10) so that I can devote the maximum amount of real estate to my content. Here is what my screen looks like:

http://www.evernote.com/shard/s2/sh/5eb03c14-8ff9-44c7-b811-4dc0bc83bb97/a564a055df385e18d006a209200827b0

The only time I open the Left Panel is to do some maintenance - spelling errors, etc.

Regarding the tags you included - here are my thoughts. I prefer to use broad, wide topics for the notebooks and more specific subjects for tags. And most of my notes will have 2 to 3 tags.

Other people use other methods - Evernote is quite flexible to adjust to many systems.

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Ok, so I'm confused about how tags would be any more efficient than multiple notes/notebooks.

A note belongs to exactly one notebook, whereas a note may have many tags. That means that notebooks partition your note database into discrete collections, while using tags, you can apply multiple categorizations, even across notebooks. More efficient? I don't know about that, but more flexible, definitely.

How many tags do people typically use?

Depends on how big a vocabulary you need to describe your notes.

I stopped using tags very early on because I suspected that my tag list would quickly become too long - I could easily run up 100 tags, and scrolling through them (can they even be sorted alphabetically?) would be annoying. Here's a screenshot of my tags list; am I using them right? Any tips on how to use them more efficiently??

You can build hierarchies of tags, which may make them easier to navigate. I rarely look at my tag list; my tag vocabulary is pretty small -- between 100 and 200 -- and I can usually remember them well enough to use in searching.

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How many tags do people typically use?

I'm an extreme case. I have ~4,000 notes and ~4,000 tags. :)

-- roschler

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OK, roschler -- you are definitely special... :)

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One notebook, no tags, is the way to go (for me) :) See the link to my site in my signature for more. Good luck with your account!

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I may be at the other end of the scale from @roschler: I'm a little too lazy to tag, especially when the tag would show up in the note's text anyway: I tend to rely on Evernote search.

I don't make that much use of notebooks either. Because my id is shared in the family I *do* tend to use notebooks at a very coarse-grained level: I'm not about to have the "debate" :-) about tags vs notebooks in my own famly.

Or maybe I'm just replacing paper clutter with unobtrusive electronic clutter and remain just as disorganised as ever. :-)

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I would also note that the habits of some Evernote-friendly apps tend to cause a proliferation of notebooks. Really I should probably use AutoEver to evacuate these extra ones.

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I may be at the other end of the scale from @roschler: I'm a little too lazy to tag, especially when the tag would show up in the note's text anyway: I tend to rely on Evernote search.

The "No tag" concept works in many cases, but just keep in mind that accurate tags can improve the accuracy of searches.

Some examples where a search does not always pull up the answers. Newspapers and magazines use different spelling depending on the country they publish in. I have seen these different versions published.

"Moammar Gaddafi"

"Muammar Gaddafi"

"Moammar Gadhafi"

"Muammar el-Qaddafi"

"Muammar al-Gaddafi"

Same thing happens with titles

"Obama"

"Barack Obama"

"President Obama"

"Commander-in-Chief"

Additional benefit: a tag avoid false search results for Michelle Obama

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I may be at the other end of the scale from @roschler: I'm a little too lazy to tag, especially when the tag would show up in the note's text anyway: I tend to rely on Evernote search.

The "No tag" concept works in many cases, but just keep in mind that accurate tags can improve the accuracy of searches.

Excellent point, JB!

The more notes you have the more false positives you will have in searches that use only full-text search in the body. There are just too many words in the English language that can be used to mean totally different things to rely solely on a general full-text search.

Sometimes the article you copy/import may not even use the keyword that is meaningful to you. That's where tags come in.

Yes, you could just add the keyword as text in the body of the Note, but using Tags helps ensure that you don't have typos, and you consistently use the same word, and make data entry easier (as you type EN searches for the matching tag).

For example, "Car" and "Auto" could mean the same thing. During my life I have created sub-folders using both of these keywords. For some reason my mind just won't settle on one or the other. If I start typing a tag "Car" and it is not found, I immediately know that I should use "Auto" instead.

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@jbenson2 Actually I agree: There are indeed times when the retrieval key isn't in the text - though I don't tend to have the variant spelling issue you're alluding to. And I would expect Evernote search to be rather more basic than, say, Google's.

If I had a serious point it's people can get obsessive with tagging beyond the point of diminishing returns. As for me I'm an OCD underachiever :-) - too lazy to exhibit outwardly obsessive behaviour. :-)

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@jbenson2 Actually I agree: There are indeed times when the retrieval key isn't in the text - though I don't tend to have the variant spelling issue you're alluding to. And I would expect Evernote search to be rather more basic than, say, Google's.

If I had a serious point it's people can get obsessive with tagging beyond the point of diminishing returns. As for me I'm an OCD underachiever :-) - too lazy to exhibit outwardly obsessive behaviour. :-)

Agreed - in my case, half of my 20,000+ notes are political in nature. Certainly not a typical user. As I mentioned "Other people use other methods - Evernote is quite flexible to adjust to many systems."

Evernote can handle both the folks who don't need precision in search results and those who do.

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OK, roschler -- you are definitely special... :)

One notebook, no tags, is the way to go (for me) :) See the link to my site in my signature for more. Good luck with your account!

I may be at the other end of the scale from @roschler: I'm a little too lazy to tag, especially when the tag would show up in the note's text anyway: I tend to rely on Evernote search.

I don't make that much use of notebooks either. Because my id is shared in the family I *do* tend to use notebooks at a very coarse-grained level: I'm not about to have the "debate" :-) about tags vs notebooks in my own famly.

Or maybe I'm just replacing paper clutter with unobtrusive electronic clutter and remain just as disorganised as ever. :-)

He who dies with the most tags wins! Hmm. Or is that toys? Not sure I like the dying part in either case. :)

-- roschler

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Ok, so this sounds like something key that I am missing here. Do you tag each note so you can search for it later? Can you give me an example of how you use tags?

Thanks!

Tags and well-structured Titles can make the Evernote search engine do magic.

The subject of tags could fill a book (several books). There are many ways to use Evernote. Other users will rely more heavily on just the Evernote search engine. So don't think that what I am about to mention is the best method, but since you asked....

My notes will frequently have more than a single tag.

I use a Parent / Child tag structure. I do not go further than 2 levels.

The child level tags usually have a 3 character prefix. Example:

Company

Com-Amazon

Com-Charter

Com-Target

To find all the children, I would search for tag:Com-*

There are many possibilities.

Parent / Child prefix

Family / Fam-

Government / Gov-

Insurance / Ins-

Medical / Med-

Personal / Per-

Taxes / Tax-

By the way, I find the BitQwik program helpful in seeing the big picture of my tags. It has a feature called Tag Hunter. The program also reduces / eliminates the need to remember the Evernote search grammar rules.

Forgive me if I'm being dense, but would you explain this method a bit further? I'm familiar with the parent/child format. But I'm not understanding the benefit or reason behind the 3 letter prefix.

For example... if I create a tag for family as follows:

Family (parent)

Aunt Betty (child)

Uncle Jack (child)

Cousin James (child)

Then what would be the advantage of doing it this way...??

Family (parent)

Fam-Aunt Betty (child)

Fam-Uncle Jack (child)

Fam-Cousin James (child)

Thanks!

*Edit - Ok, think I understand now. BUT, I can't get the search to work correctly. Whenever I do a Search Notes by Tags - and I put in the tag "fam", or even "fam-" I get every single not that has any word with those three letters in it, such as famished or familiar, which are NOT tags!

:::sigh:::

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*Edit - Ok, think I understand now. BUT, I can't get the search to work correctly. Whenever I do a Search Notes by Tags - and I put in the tag "fam", or even "fam-" I get every single not that has any word with those three letters in it, such as famished or familiar, which are NOT tags!

:::sigh:::

Hi. Are you using the advanced search operators?

https://support.evernote.com/ics/support/KBAnswer.asp?questionID=535

tag:fam-AuntBetty

In this case (I think JB will agree), I recommend no spaces. Otherwise, you will have to put the search term in quotation marks every time. In fact, if it were me, I would also make sure everything is lower case and singular. By establishing simple rules like this for yourself, you will be more likely to find what you are looking for every time, and less likely to replicate tags with variations of the same word.

tag:fam-auntbetty

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I'm familiar with the parent/child format. But I'm not understanding the benefit or reason behind the 3 letter prefix.

For example... if I create a tag for family as follows:

Family (parent)

Aunt Betty (child)

Uncle Jack (child)

Cousin James (child)

Then what would be the advantage of doing it this way...??

Family (parent)

Fam-Aunt Betty (child)

Fam-Uncle Jack (child)

Fam-Cousin James (child)

In addition to the comments by GrumpyMonkey (use tag: with your search), there are other reasons.

1.) If you use the 3 character prefix with your frequently used tags, all similar tags will be grouped together alphabetically in the Left Panel. It makes maintenance and spotting typos easier.

2.) It makes remembering the tags much easier. Press F3 to add a tag and start typing FAM. You will see all the family members. All the other non-Family tags are hidden.

3.) By the way, I only use tags for immediate family members mentioned in my notes. I don't use tags at all for my extended family (cousins, uncles, etc) because I don't have enough notes to warrant creating a tag. For the extended family, I throw in a key word (Uncle Jack) and rely on Evernote search to find the person.

4.) As GM indicated - be consistent, I do not use family descriptions (wife, son, daughter). All immediate family members use the same structure. Fam-JLB, Fam-DLB, Fam-BEB, Fam-PWB, Fam-WPB

5.) I do not use the 3 character prefix for all tags. I'd guess that perhaps 20% of my 1,100 tags have a prefix. But those 20% are used on the majority of my personal notes.

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