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Evernote Tags vs. Notebooks: Which Are Better for Organization? [Reader Feedback]

evernote notebooks vs tagsA recent article on Lifehacker has me wondering if I’m using Evernote all wrong. I only have two main notebooks in Evernote: Work, and Personal. There are a few other random ones that are automatically created by apps, such as the notebook that Scanner Pro, an iOS app, creates. I also have an “Inbox” notebook where notes reside until they are moved into one of the other notebooks. But by and large, all of my notes go into my two main notebooks. Am I in the minority with how I use Evernote notebooks?

In a recent post on Lifehacker, Whitson Gordon noted as follows:

I found that most of my ‘notes’ should have, in fact, been ‘notebooks,’ allowing me to store larger volumes of information with better organization.”

Well then. That’s not how I use Evernote. I use tags as my main organizational feature.


Why I Tag

I find tags to be superior than having many notebooks for two reasons:

1. A note can have multiple tags. I find that too many of my notes are pertinent to multiple subject areas, and would be hard to categorize into one Notebook.

2. Speed and efficiency. I don’t have to give thought to both my selection of tags, and selection of a notebok. The latter is obvious, so all I really need to think about is picking tags.

In fact, I often slack off with tagging notes, given Evernote’s search functionality. When I create a note, it by default goes into my Inbox notebook, with the hope that I will immediately tag it, and file it into a Notebook. I say “with the hope” because I currently have 358 notes in my Inbox. My Inbox has been in a similar state for a couple of years, and I have yet to run into a problem with it.

(To see how you can use just one notebook with a GTD system, check out Bobby Travis’ post on Getting Things Done (GTD) in Evernote with Only One Notebook ).

The Lifehacker article has caused me to think about how I use Evernote, however. There are some areas where I wouldn’t have a problem shoehorning notes into just one notebook, and where extra notebooks might be useful. For example, a notebook for all my photography-related notes could help with organization, as could a dedicated notebook whenever I plan a vacation. In the end, I see notebooks more as an aesthetic tool than anything.

How about you? Are you a notebook person, or a tag person? How many notebooks do you use? How about tags?