In readings for my classes, I’ve seen photos of stacks of index cards and post-it notes used by academics to compile their books, and heard complaints of the inability to keep notes and ideas and actual writing all in one place electronically. Well, let me tell you something – I have a tool that does that!
It is Scrivener by Literature and Latte. It is not a word processing program, it is a writing tool that you use and then you can export your work to an word processing program, A .pdf, or other formats including eBook formats. My favorite features are:
— The ease in which you can split up a document and then rearrange it in any way you want. Just drag and drop.
— If you decide to cut something out of your writing, you can just move it to your research/notes section. The “cut” piece will no longer export as part of your finished piece of writing, but it will still be there in the scrivener file if you ever want to put it back or just refer to it again while you’re writing.
It does have some mobile apps that it can sync with, but I’ve not used those, so I can’t say anything either way about them. I have been using it for a couple years now, for everything from 5 page papers on up. When I was doing my final paper for my research seminar, it saved my sanity with the amount of adding, subtracting and rearranging I was doing while working on it. I don’t even like to think about trying to do that in Word.
The only downside is that it doesn’t connect directly to Zotero for citations. You can add footnotes and such, and I just do author/page and then when I’m done and have exported it to Word, I just use Zotero there.
It’s $45 for the Mac version and $40 for the Windows version, and both versions have a 30 day free trial. It has a very good tutorial and I recommend that anyone that downloads the program to take the time to go through the tutorial.
On the reading side – well, more the reading & marking up side – Evernote has finally upped their game when it comes to marking up pdf’s. You can highlight, underline, drop arrows, add text notes – and it works beautifully on the iPad. I just drop the pdf’s into Evernote on my laptop, and they’re on my iPad waiting for me, I mark them up six ways from Sunday and when I sync again, there all their with all their marks on my laptop. I discovered I was not the only one looking for a markup ability like this until I was sitting at a bar reading and gleefully marking things up and the gentleman next to me leaned over and asked, “Please tell me what you are using to mark up your pdf’s like that! I need it!”
It can create a summary page of all your annotations, but I advise against it – it combines them all in to one very large page at the beginning of the document. (You can turn it off, the option is in the dropdown next to the Save option in the upper right corner in iPad, and if you forget, you can just go back in and uncheck it and it removes the summary page.)
Evernote syncs across platforms, I’ve used it with Windows, OSX and Android with no problems. It is free, and the Premium version is $5 a month or $45 a year. (I have the Premium version for offline access.)