Monday, 25 July 2016

Incorporating Evernote into My Research Process

I'll admit it. I'm lazy, especially when it comes to transcribing records and creating source citations. Yet, when I begin to write a blog post or a magazine article, I rue the fact I haven't transcribed the associated records. Typically, if I have not already transcribed a record I do so in preparation of writing a blog post. This is when I create the source citations as well. Thankfully, I am good about noting where I found the record.

Since Ancestry revamped its interface, I have been dissatisfied with how transcriptions of documents are displayed. I find them very hard to read. (I'll admit I wasn't thrilled with "old" Ancestry, but new is definitely a step backwards.)

This is a source citation I created from a document I found on ScotlandsPeople. When I click the source link from the Sources column on the facts tab, the text is all jumbled and difficult to read:

Citation details of Robert Orr Muir's 1917 death registration; citation created by
me; image courtesy of

If I go to the Gallery, where I used to be able to easily read the text transcription, I can no longer do so. I have to click the edit button and scroll through a small text screen.

Death Registration document in the Gallery; image courtesy of

Transcription is the bottom field. Certainly cannot see much!
Image courtesy of

So I am beginning to incorporate other tools into my research process. The first one with which I began experimenting is Evernote. Currently, I am using it only for transcriptions and I quite like it. I can also see where the Web Clipper functionality will be very useful for staying on task. If I see something I want to investigate further, I merely have to clip it and add it to my To-Do Notebook to work on later.

After transcribing the record, and attaching an image of the record, I click Share >> Copy Public Link:

Image courtesy of Evernote

Then I add the link to the transcription to Ancestry as a web link:

The link to the Evernote transcription of Robert Orr Muir's death registration
I added to his facts page

This is not the entire Evernote "note" but it should give you an idea of how much better the display of the transcription information is than the two options provides.

My Evernote public note about the death of Robert Orr Muir; image
courtesy of Evernote

I know I'm late to the Evernote party, but I would very much like to know how are you integrating Evernote with your your family tree software?


  1. I know what you mean about the transcription text on ancestry, but I have gotten into the habit of simply adding 2 spaces then 2 backslashes and then another 2 spaces to separate the information in the transcription. (Seems ancestry forgot about coding in line breaks). Everyone seems to be raving about Evernote these days but I have found that I need to have my research information in the least number of places or I forget where everything is. I do use One Note to organize my cemetery research. I created a separate notebook for each cemetery where family members rest with a table that records BMD dates as well as burial info and a photo of the headstone. I have found that I am referring to this information often as a quick reference.

  2. Great ideas. I started using Evernote for my research quite some time ago, but admit that I never fully embraced it. I intended to use it more and was just starting to, when Evernote announced the limitation to two devices on basic accounts. In my opinion, such a limitation goes against the whole point of saving info to the cloud (i.e. easy access). I switched to OneNote a few weeks ago and have been pleasantly surprised. OneNote is actually easier to use than Evernote; the setup of notebooks divided into sections and pages seems more logical to me. Best of all - no limitations on my access (at least for now).

  3. Schalene,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a fantastic weekend!

  4. Schalene, I think you might find some useful Evernote ideas at the Gazette ( It's my favorite research tool. You might also check Kerry Scott's Evernote book. It's focused on its uses in genealogy. Good luck! --Denise

  5. I've just begun using Evernote. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Schalene, thank you for this idea! Like you, I am very impatient with Ancestry when they drop our line feeds. It sort of makes it clear how little they expect others to read a Mere Member's text. I also like the idea of putting the citation of the real source into text in my Evernote Note, where I can format it to my own liking.

    My own use of Evernote so far has been as a photography aid, I suppose you could say. I use the Evernote app on my iPhone to photograph family letters so that I can share them easily with other descendants who would want to see Grandma's own handwriting. Evernote does image stabilization for my shaky hands, automatically crops and levels the page image, controls the flash to avoid white-outs, and lets me tag each note with whatever family names are mentioned in its pages (which has been a real problem with paper filing methods -- to file one letter in three different families). In fact, Evernote will spot my existing tags (surnames) in a newly photographed page if the writer "upper-cased" it. (Thanks, Aunt Carrie.)

    1. I hadn't thought to use it for photography, but what a great way to add notes to photos.


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