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Note Taking: Considerations for Note-Taking Software

Digital Notes

Below are some options for taking digital notes. The tools listed below were selected due to their popularity, low cost, and interoperability.

On the How-to Videos page you will find some introductory videos to some of the tools listed here (specifically curated because it can be easy to go down an infinite rabbit hole investigating one person's unique set-up).

Keep in mind that no one (digital) tool will fit all your needs perfectly, and with anything digital there is always the possibility of unsupported software, mergers, and any number technical issues. New digital tools are constantly emerging, and it can be difficult to figure out which will work for the long term until you try it.

When picking a tool/system/method, ask yourself: What do I need to do? What do I need to remember? How long do I need it?

Handwritten Notes

A small icon of a swirly doodle, by Kyle TezakThere are also pen and paper notes, of course, which some say promotes learning (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014Carter, Greenberg, & Walker, 2017), while other say there is no difference between paper-based and digital note-takers (Artz, Johnson, Robson, & Taengnoi, 2017).

Software and Apps

Digital Notes and Organization

Digital, Handwritten Notes

Annotate the Web

Annotate and Organize Images


Citation Management with Notes and Annotation

Scanning and OCR

Audio and Transcription

PIck a Note Taking Tool

Local Notes

An icon of the My Notes app (PC)My Notes (PC)

  • Unlimited notes
  • Keep digital notes in a separate window
  • Sync notes to the cloud with OneDrive and mobile
  • Quicker to open and start writing than OneNote
  • Create tasks, bulleted lists, events

An icon of the Notes app (Mac)Notes (iOS)

  • Unlimited notes
  • Keep digital notes in a separate window
  • Sync notes to iCloud
  • Create tasks, bulleted lists, events
  • On mobile: add photos and scan documents

Collaboration & File Storage

An icon of the Box logoAccess Box @ Yale

  • Cloud storage supported by Yale
  • Collaborate with internal peers and colleagues
  • Sync Box with your computer for automatic file updates
  • Box Notes (similar to Google Docs)
  • Expires when you leave Yale
  • No collaborative spreadsheet option; must upload Microsoft Excel, or equivalent 

An icon of the Google Docs logoAbout EliApps

  • Yale College and GSAS students already have EliApps accounts
  • Access to Google Drive, including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms
  • Mobile apps
  • Collaborate with internal and external peers and colleagues
  • Expires when you leave Yale