After Tuesday’s post about the importance of digititizing your handwritten notes, Russel, an engineering student at the University of British Columbia (Yay, another Canadian!) sent me a note outlining his workflow which incorporates Evernote. I must say, the ability to search  handwritten notes is pretty slick. Enough from me, here’s Russel with a guest post. Be sure to check out his website, skimap.org

To start, grab a copy of Evernote for your OS (start off with the Windows/Mac version, and install on your mobile device later). Evernote operates under a freemium model, the free version should work great for light users, but if you decide to use it more heavily, you can purchase a monthly subscription for $5.

If you have a scanner, you’ll want to configure it to open Evernote after scanning a page, so your notes are directly imported. I personally use the Fujitsu Scansnap S300M, which works great although it’s not cheap. I set it to scan jpeg files and import them into evernote. You may consider also scanning to PDF, but I would recommend for handwritten notes that you scan to jpeg (benefits will be explained later). If you are still in the market for an ADF (Auto Document Feed) scanner, you might look at the Doxie scanner, which will have direct Evernote integration. It’s set to come out in February at a lower price point than the current ADF scanners , let’s just pray they ditch the hearts… 

If you’re a Mac user with a Wacom tablet, you are sort of out of luck if you want to create new notes directly into Evernote. That said, you can still use a drawing program to make your notes and then import them into the app. On Windows however, Evernote has a native ink note feature which will work great with tablets. 

Finally you will want to create notebooks in Evernote, one for each class. Now when you scan a note, your note will be placed in your default notebook, from there you can just click and drag sort your notes into different classes. Additionally, to merge multiple scanned jpeg notes together, you can select them, right click Merge Notes, which I use constantly. 

Now that you have your notes organized into your various courses, they will be uploaded to the server, and become searchable in minutes! Yes, this means all of your handwriting will be searchable. This functionality is extremely handy for me as I can call up a note at a moments notice with a few keywords.  

Additionally, you can drag in Lecture Slides from the course website, assignments, and whatever else you want to keep track of. Premium users can store Word Document files and any other formats in evernote. Editing an assignment is only a click a way, and when you open a file from Evernote in another app, and then you finish your edits, just hit save like you normally would, and Evernote will see this and sync your updated Word Document to the server. 

The whole experience of Evernote is truly seamless, anything you do is synced, and thus you can run Evernote on as many computers as you want, and you can access/edit notes from their website as well. I also often skim over my notes on my iPod Touch (using the mobile app) when I don’t have my laptop with me. 

At the end of the term, I can export my entire collection of notes/assignments/lecture slides and then pass the file on to friends who are taking the class in the next term. 

Thanks Russell! If you have questions or comments be sure to post them below.