3 PRO hacks to organise your notes (free)

No matter your note-taking style or the apps/devices you use, if you can’t organise your notes they will give you a massive headache. To access all the Pro hacks on this website, make sure to join our Patreon community. You can use one of these hacks or all of them, depending on how sophisticated you organise your notes.

Table of Contents

There is a reason textbooks have a table of contents. The amazing thing about handwritten digital notes is that you can also create your own contents page using digital/index notebooks. We recommend using our minimalist digital notebooks, they are simple to use and they help you group all the topics for a subject in one place. So when you want notes on cells, simply go to the contents page and skip to the topic with just a few taps.

We have narrow, college and wide-ruled digital notebooks that can group at least 15 topics together. For more details on how to use digital notebooks, please go here.

Tags

Tags are another excellent way to organise your notes, they are much better than bookmarking pages. In Noteshelf, for example, you can use them to mark pages you’ll need to find later on. These could be pages with questions you need to ask your lecturer, something you need to look up or examples you want to share during a presentation. Instead of trying to remember how you phrased the question/example to search for it, simply look through your tagged pages.

The only problem with Noteshelf’s tagging system is that your tags are not universal. You have to create new tags for each notebook in the app, which can be exhausting. When you do this often, universal tags are better, they offer a better user experience.

That is why we loved Apple Notes when they brought universal tags to the app. Tags that work across all your notebooks. The app suggests them when you need to use them, which means you using the same tags in all your notebooks. It simplifies your organisation and their usefulness.

Noteful‘s tagging system is superior to what you get in Apple Notes. Tapping a tagged notebook doesn’t take you to the actual tag, in Apple Notes. It simply opens the notebook containing the tag. You then have to scroll looking for the tag.

In Noteful, your tagged pages are easily accessible on the app’s homepage. You can see the name of the notebook and the page your tag is on. Tapping on the page opens it, exactly on the page where your tag is.

Once you’ve finished using a tag (answered the question or demonstrated the example), you can delete the it from the page to stay more organised. The app doesn’t delete the tag from your homepage, it simply empties (when you have resolved all the tags of course). This helps because you don’t have to keep creating the same tag each you resolve its outstanding issues.

Tags can also organise your notebooks in Noteful, by acting as folder. Before we go through how that’s possible, let’s look at folders.

Folders

Every note-taking app we’ve covered so far uses folders to group notebooks (except Noteful). They call them different names, but effectively they work the same way. Nebo calls them collections, in LiquidText and Kyoku Flashcards they are folders. Each of these apps has different limitations and capabilities in terms of the levels of folders they can support.

AppLevels of folders for organisation
NotefulInfinite
Nebo2
LiquidTextInfinite
Kyoku Flashcards1
Examples of different organisation options for folders in different apps.

We recommend keeping your levels to a maximum of three levels, four if you must. However, anything beyond that you probably should get a digital notebook to keep your levels fewer for better organised notes.

Let’s look at an example from medical school to see the kinds of folders you’d create. You’d have your years of study: 1st to 6th year. For each year, you’d have the subjects you study and then your notebooks. We’d recommend using a digital notebook to have all the topics for your biology lectures, for example. You can then have three notebooks: one for lecture notes, one for assignments and another one for tests, for example.

  • 1st year
    • Anatomy with digital notebooks for:
      • Lectures
      • Practicals
      • Revision
    • Biology with digital notebooks for:
      • Lectures
      • Practicals
      • Homework
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
  • 2nd year
  • 3rd year
  • 4th year
  • 5th year
  • 6th year

A characteristic feature with folders is that a notebook can only belong to one folder at a time. You then get options to move notebooks to different folders when reorganising your notes, but that’s pretty much all you get.

Folders vs tags

You can easily replicate this folder system with tags. However, with tags, you can go a step further and that is what we love about them. First of all, your notebooks can belong to multiple tags, which translates to multiple folders. All you have to do is tag them with multiple tags and they’ll appear under each tag.

Remember how we tagged pages to make them appear on the homepage? That is certainly something you can’t do that with folders. In folders, you only see your notebooks and the pages to those notebooks only when you open them. Tags in Noteful displace pages and notebooks right on your homepage.

Bonus hack

You can pin pages in your notebook to access them on the homepage. When you know you’re going to need to come back to a page later, pin it and it’ll be easier to find on the homepage, without searching your notes or opening any notebook.

Bookmarks can help, but you need to open the notebook first, before accessing its bookmarks. That is why pinning is more effective as it removes that extra step.

To access more pro hacks to help with your digital transformation, go to our patreon page. For just $5/month, you can access all the pro hacks and user guides on this website.

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