Have you wished for a way to organize your notebooks in Evernote? You may have hundreds of notes in a notebook and even searching by tags brings up too many notes. Did you know you can create a custom note that can serve as a table of contents? You can organize this custom note any way you like and in the process clean up your notebooks as well.
If you’d like to learn more about using Evernote for Family history and genealogy, check out these articles.
Choose Categories for the Table of Contents
The first step to creating a custom table of contents is to browse through the notes you’ve accumulated in a notebook and see how things fall into categories. I have a notebook titled “United States General Research.” This notebook contains 302 notes from a variety of sources: blog posts, conference syllabi, notes from webinars, online articles, etc. Browsing my notes, I decided on two broad categories for my Table of Contents: Record Types and Methodology. Within those categories, I can further break things down. Record types would include census, church, military, probate, etc. Methodology would include using the FAN club, pre-1850 research, etc.
Creating the Table of Contents
Step 1: Start and Name a New Note
The first step in this fun organizational process is to create a new note within the notebook of choice. Adding a symbol such as ! or * to the beginning of the title will pop the Table of Contents note to the top of the notes when sorting alphabetically. Here are the steps: Navigate to the correct notebook > Create a New Note > Enter the title.
The screenshot below shows my new note listed at the top of my notes.
Step 2: Create Categories and Subcategories
Next, you’ll add your categories and subcategories. I like to do these in a larger font and bolded so they stand out. You’ll likely think of more ways to organize your table of contents as you’re working through your notes. Simply add them as you go. The screenshot below shows my initial list of record types.
Step 3: Add Internal Links to the Table of Contents
Now comes the fun part – adding the internal link to your Table of Contents. This will allow you to quickly scan a category and select the note. If you’ve already tagged your notes, you could search by tag to find all those on a certain topic, then add each one. I found a note titled “Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000.” The article was published by the U.S. Census Bureau and details the enumerator instructions and heading for each census. It’s a valuable resource, but can be hidden in all the other articles I have saved on the census.
You’ll right click on the note you want to add to the Table of Contents and select “Copy internal link” or Ctrl+A+L from the menu. Next navigate to the Table of Contents and paste the link under the correct heading. The link will now appear in the note – the color green signaling that it is an internal link.
The screenshot below shows the green link to the census note now in my Table of Contents under the Census heading. Be sure to edit the title of the note before adding the link if the title is non-descriptive. The purpose of the Table of Contents is to help you quickly locate a note, so if the titles are obscure, it won’t be as useful.
That’s it! continue adding internal links to the Table of Contents until you’ve organized that notebook by whatever categories and subcategories you choose.
What are the possibilities? If you are creating a locality guide in Evernote, you could add internal links to articles, webinar notes, or maps that you’ve saved on researching in that locality. Perhaps your locality guide is an entire notebook and the Table of Contents helps you organize by category.
Maybe you’ve amassed a great many notes on DNA or you have a notebook for researching a family line. You could organize by searches, individuals, localities, etc. The best thing about Evernote is that you are in charge. You can create a system to help you be more efficient and find that information you carefully saved.
Best of luck in all your genealogy and family history endeavors!