Embracing tags makes Evernote a powerful tool. Each note can be labelled by 100 different tags and one can have as many as 100,000 tags per account. Wait! Embracing does not mean maxing out either one of those limits. Tags are best used strategically. Let me explain.
Using Evernote Tags Strategically
The primary purpose of tags is not to label the content of one particular note. They could do that, but don’t start there. Instead use tags to functionally label groups of notes. Think projects, sermons, and meetings.
I just finished researching the purchase of a defibrillator for our church and daycare. All my web research was tagged with “/defib”. In my Evernote world this means these notes are all related to a current project (that is what ‘/‘ means) described succinctly with the letters ‘defib’.
This past Advent I preached a series entitled “God with Us”. My web research for that was tagged with “+Adv2016”(all sermon prep begins with ‘+). When I was ready to outline and write the sermon all my notes were together and accessible because I had tagged them.
One more example. I label notes, clippings and emails associated with various committees with unique tags. Material relating to the Board of Elders is tagged “@BOE” (for me ‘@‘ signifies a particular committee or ministry team).
Yes, I also use tags to label note content, but these tags generally denote broader topics and themes rather than the content of one particular note. For example, I tag notes dealing with weddings, funerals, and spiritual disciplines with shortened labels.
Organizing Evernote Tags
Tags are sorted alphabetically. By using special characters I manipulate the sequence of the sort so that is serves my purposes. Given my practice above, all my current projects show together in my tag list, likewise my sermons and my meetings.
That is helpful when I go to label a new note. I need only to key in the special character and I am prompted with all my existing tags of that type. I then can pick the correct tag without needing to type the whole tag. I purposely keep the tags short so that if I am working on a mobile screen the tags are displayed with minimal truncation.
Tags can be nested. This feature is helpful to display a hierarchical relationship between tags. For example, a while back I did a sermon series on Philippians. The parent tag for the series was “+Php” and the individual sermons were labeled “+Php.<#>”, where <#> represents the number of the sermon in the series.
Searching by Evernote Tags
The chief reason I do not spend much time tagging notes according to their content is because I rely on Evernote’s search capabilities to help me find what I am looking for.
One of the advance features is to search by tag. For example, I might me interested in any sermon prep note that references “Magi”. To find that I enter the following terms in the Evernote’s search field: “Magi tag:+*”. This will return any note that contains “Magi” (not case sensitive) in the text content of a note that is also labeled with a tag that begins with “+” (the “*” acts as search wildcard).
Another handy search is “-tag:* created:day-3”. This will return all notes that are not tagged with any label and were created in the last three days. A great search if I meant to tag a recently created note but forgot.
If you use nested tags to organize your notes, please understand that a tag search on the parent tag will not automatically return the notes nested under it. In the above example regarding the sermon series on Philippians, if I had decided to tag the notes associated with individual sermons as: Part1, Part2, Part3, etc., then the search “tag:+Php*” will not return the nested notes. To include these it is best to label them first with the parent tag (i.e., “+Php”) and then continue the tag with labelling that identifies the child aspect (i.e., “+Php.1”). I use a “.” to separate the parent part of the tag from the child part.
It’s your turn
How are you using Evernote tags to organize your notes?by