Evernote vs OneNote: How my Writing World was rocked

A few days ago, one of my favourite writing blogs – Writers In The Storm – put up a post about OneNote. I’d never heard of it before and was astonished to read that it had been sitting in my laptop all this time.

This is how the WITS post began:

“I’m a software trainer by day so I have several “true loves” in the software realm. But as a writer, my hands down favorite lately is OneNote 2010.

I. Heart. OneNote.

What is it, and where do you find it?

OneNote is a planner and note taking software. Capture text, images, video and audio notes, and keep important information readily available. If you’re the organized type, it’s likely that you have a binder with all of the research information and pictures for your book.

OneNote allows you to keep this information in the same format electronically so it’s searchable.”

via 10 OneNote Features that Will Rock Your Writing World | Writers In The Storm Blog.

Why, I wondered, would I turn to this when I already downloaded and regularly use Evernote after another writer recommended it?

In case you’re not aware of either program, both Evernote and OneNote are note-taking software enabling you to copy anything that comes on your screen. I’ve been using Evernote for quite some time specifically to capture articles and pages from the Web. It’s good and it lets you put in as many tags as you like to find these articles again. You can link it to as many PDAs – phones, laptops and so on. The software automatically figures out which part of the webpage you’re copying is important and which is just sidebars and adverts.

On a slow internet connection, as I have here in Bangladesh, it can take a long time to paste and sync to your software on the laptop. This also means it is often unreliable, sometimes failing to copy anything at all, and I’ve taken to staying on the same tab while it copies because if I go look at another it cancels the whole Evernote operation. This may be more to do with my internet being awful (this morning I have been working two hours and I am still trying to get on my Gmail…), but I think it is in part that Evernote tries to do too much.

So, after reading the WITS post, I decided to take a look at OneNote seeing as I have it anyway, and try out some of the things suggested in the post.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I fell in love with OneNote straightaway. It was so much easier to use than Evernote and much more interactive. I’ve never worked out how to do anything with Evernote other than search for articles and then read them. With OneNote, Click and drag any of my own documents into a page and it will fully copy complete with a link to the original document. Similarly, I can copy and paste text from the Web and it pastes with ease along with a link to the website address.

What’s more you can create your own ‘sections’ which come up as tabs on the top while creating and naming ‘pages’ which run as tabs down the side. As here:

Taken from my own OneNote
Taken from my own OneNote

Right click on the picture and open in another tab then you can see what’s going on if your picture is too small.

On the left you can see I have two different notebooks working: Writing and General.  With the Writing notebook up I have a number of sections running along the top with my Article Writing one brought to the front. Down the right side are my page tabs with my ‘8-Year-Old’ clip brought up. I’m thinking about turning this news item into a Science FOB pieces for a kid’s magazine.

I was so excited by this program that I ranted about it to my family. My wife was disappointed to find that it doesn’t come as standard for apple macs (for some reason, she loves her mac – I hate them). But, not to be outdone, she went and downloaded Growly Notes for Mac. It does pretty much the same thing and was free (just as Evernote is and OneNote comes with Microsoft Office).

She immediately put her MSc. dissertation work on it! The tabs on side (and tabs of tabs as Growly Notes  allows) act as her chapters.

I loved this idea and I’m experimenting with a final MA essay of my own before planning my own MA dissertation using it. I’ve not tried it yet for my books, but the next new book I begin I will definitely write using OneNote. I can fully cross-reference everything I want using it and even if  I choose to use Excel for some parts – such as character plotting – I can copy and paste the Excel spreadsheet in as well! And all tables and charts are fully editable in OneNote.

So, all in all, OneNote wins hands down for me. I love it, it’s easy to use and quick to operate. I’m very grateful to the writers at WITS – yet again – for excellent advice. The blog really is one of the best sites I’ve ever come across for writers.


6 thoughts on “Evernote vs OneNote: How my Writing World was rocked

  1. OneNote also integrates with MS SkyDrive, giving you remote collaboration, access to your notebooks from mobile devices and a basic version of the application in your browser.


  2. Ken, I just saw this link as I was going through the comments for the OneNote post. Thanks so much for linking back, and now I’m going to go read up on GrowlyNotes!!

    We adore our readers at WITS. 🙂


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