All articles that include how-to, walkthrough, or instructions for using various software and programs.

How to go “Paper-Free”: Step by Step Instructions

How to go “Paper-Free”: Step by Step Instructions

This article will walk through what “paper-free” means, and how to achieve it in your own home.

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

What is “Paper-Free”?

Paper-free is the concept that a workspace can be free of paper and rely on digital documents and processes. Paper-free is also aesthetic – no more filing cabinets, printing hard copies for records, or saving old documents in a physical space. It is a means of opening up space and getting rid of clutter. Technology supports searching and accessing important information from anywhere, at any time.

For many, going paperless is a stance to protect the environment by reducing the consumption of paper products and the subsequent processes of recycling or trash collecting.

What it isn’t

Going paperless in your home or workspace does not mean you will never interact with paper products again. It is the reality that paper is a major medium for communication. You will still receive paper in the mail. You will sometimes need to print and sign important documents.

Being paper-free isn’t about having no shred of paper in your home. It is about reducing your dependency on paper and finding digital alternatives to access information.

Tools You’ll Need

Before embarking on your paper-free journey, you’ll want a few tools to get you started:

A Computer

You don’t need a dedicated computer for scanning, but you will want a place to start uploading files. If you have a laptop, it will provide you the flexibility to scan and import documents from anywhere!

A Scanner

There are a lot of scanners on the market. Some integrate with note-taking apps, making your import process easier. Others allow you to scan multiple pages, or front and back, with the push of one button. This can save you time by making the process somewhat hands-free.

There are also scanners that are bluetooth, portable, or extra small. It is important that you find one that fits your needs. For example, if you have a lot of 8.5″x11″ multi-page documents you may want a feeder instead of a flatbed scanner.

For more information on choosing a scanner, check out this list.

Document Organization Software or Note App

This isn’t required, but very helpful. If you are scanning documents and saving as PDFs, you can keep them on your computer in the folders your computer likely has already.

However, there are many benefits to having a note app or cloud-based software:

  • Access your documents from any device at any time
  • Digital backups mean no worries about lost information if your computer dies
  • Ability to tag and search documents
  • Scalability – you can add more documents than you may have space for on your computer
  • Ability to collaborate on documents with family or team members

Here are some so software options we recommend checking out:


This is the go-to for Office Otter, and holds a special place in our heart. Evernote has a robust list of features and provides a great way to organize documents.

The most impressive feature is its ability to scan and read PDFs – making it easier for you to search for the content you need!


A top contender, especially for PC users, is OneNote. This application comes standard on any Microsoft Office package. Arguably, it has more features than Evernote with its ability to act as a digital notebook in both function and form.

Draw, highlight, add tabs or chapters – this application is great for tablet users. Plus, OneNote can be backed-up with the Microsoft OneDrive cloud system.

Google Drive

If you have a Google / Gmail account, you have access to Google Drive. This is the online file database with a limited amount of free storage each month.

This is a great option if you are also looking for software to create documents. Integrates with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.


A big hitter in the cloud-storage market, Dropbox has been around for years. With their tight security measures and massive server capacity, Dropbox has become an enterprise icon for businesses looking to support remote employees.

Depending on the plan you sign up for, this may also be the most expensive option.

Bins or cardboard boxes

You will want to sort your paper workflow as you go. Having a few bins or cardboard boxes can be helpful. This doesn’t need to be fancy – and we don’t recommend going out and buying bins specifically for this purpose.

The Process

Step 1: Create Physical Station

The first step for going paper-free is to create a station or system for processing paper in your environment. This means having a place to put paper that needs to be processed, and then paper that has already been processed.

Where to set up this station

We recommend placing your station in a workspace, near your desk or a table. Having it visible during your regular activities reminds you to work through paper processing.

The process of scanning papers can take months, depending on how much time you have to dedicate each week. Therefore, we do not recommend converting your living room into a station unless you don’t have much paper to process.

Setting the station up in a way that majorly disrupts your life will leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Have “bins” for storing your various stages of paper.

  • Inbox – The paper that hasn’t yet been sorted at all. If you have many boxes, bins, and file cabinets, your inbox bin will be a place to put 1 stack, drawer, or box at a time.
  • File – A set of items or papers that you definitely want to keep. This may include birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, college degrees, etc. If you are unsure what to keep, put documents in this bin and then go through again at the end of the process. You may find you’ve changed your mind on some things!
  • Shred – Papers you’ve processed that has personal or sensitive information that you should shred for your protection before disposing of.
  • Recycle – Papers you’ve processed that can be recycled. Includes items already shredded.
  • Trash – Anything that cannot be recycled.

Step 2: Sorting Papers

This is the activity of going paper-free. You will be taking items and papers from your inbox, and processing through the various steps of scanning and to bins.

When you take an item out of the inbox bin, make a choice of where it needs to go. Ask yourself the following questions, in order, moving down the list:

  1. Do I need a digital copy of this document/file?
  2. Do I need to keep a paper copy of this document?
  3. Do I need to shred this document?
  4. Can I recycle this paper?

Tips for sorting papers:

  • Don’t try to sort and process all your papers at once. Work in batches. This will leave you with space and a feeling of accomplishment!
  • Immediately process paperwork from inbox. Don’t create additional processing steps (like “to scan” or “to have partner look at”). This creates more time and work for each document and is a form of procrastination.
  • Understand that not everything needs to be scanned. There is such thing as digital clutter. The more you scan the more digital files you will need to organize.

Step 3: Scanning Papers

This step isn’t very exciting. We highly recommend setting up a temporary scanning station in front of a Netflix enabled device.

READ: How to import documents scanned documents into Evernote

Tips for scanning papers:

  • Keep all papers for a single document in the same file. Separate files for each separate document.
  • Scan all your documents to a single folder (SCANNED FOLDER) you can sort through when you are done scanning.
  • If your scanner app allows you to name the file you are scanning at the time of the scan – do it! It will make sorting easier. Make sure to use the same naming convention for all your files.
  • Scan in batches. Either choose a single pile or bin, or just what you can finish during a movie. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

When you are done scanning a document, decide where it needs to go next (filed away again, shredded, or recycled) and move to the appropriate bin.

Step 4: Digitally Organize

Open the folder or notebook where all your scans are saved. The SCANNED FOLDER, mentioned above.

One by one, rename the file (if not previously named in Step 3), and then move it to the folder or notebook that is appropriate. Continue until your SCANNED FOLDER is empty.

READ: How to Organize Evernote for Ultimate Productivity

We recommend doing this step in batches as well. At some point, you may find you need a change of pace from scanning or shredding. This is another activity that can be done on a laptop in front of Netflix.

Tips for digital organization:

  • Don’t skip this step. It is much harder to find what you are looking for if your document is named “scan_00_043829.pdf”.
  • You may come across a document that doesn’t fit into any of the folders or notebooks you originally set up. It is okay to add new ones!
  • It is easier to remember how to name a document, and what it is, after you just scanned it. Integrating this process with scanning will make it less daunting at the end.
  • If more than one person needs access to documents, grant access in your document storage as appropriate.

Step 5: Physically Organize

Once you have scanned your whole life into a digital platform (yay!) you will likely find that there are still some papers you can’t part with. These will be the items you put in your “to file” pile.

This pile may include movie ticket stubs from a first date, child’s artwork, or important documents like a birth certificate.

Only you can decide what you should keep. However, if you find you are adding a lot of things back into the “to file” pile while sorting, go back through after you have finished processing all your other paperwork. Treat this pile like an inbox and make the decision again whether to keep or recycle. You may find that some things aren’t as important the second time around. Or, you may find that your child’s artwork can be scanned and treasured as a desktop background for years to come without the need to take up space in your cabinet.

Take time to physically organize the remaining items. If it is sentimental, add it to a box and label it “Memories” so you can go through it from time to time. For things like marriage licenses and birth certificates, we recommend putting them in a fire box so they are secure in case of an emergency. Copies of insurance policies and contracts can be saved in a small filing box.

Maintenance of Paper-Free

Don’t be discouraged when you realize that the stream of paper doesn’t seem to end. You will still get the mail or have contracts to sign. Paper is a major medium for communication in our society.

Here are some ways to maintain a paper-free space:

  1. Keep a small inbox on your desk to collect all the things that need to be scanned and sorted. Continue the process above daily or weekly and you will find it stays manageable.
  2. Recycle or trash junk mail immediately before adding important mail to your inbox.
  3. Don’t accept brochures or business cards. Instead, take a photo of the information you need, and hand it back!
  4. Choose paper-free billing. Some companies will offer you a discount if you opt-in to paper-free billing for credit cards or utilities. Instead of receiving a bill in the mail, you will get a statement or reminder emailed to you!

Enjoy a tidy home and office!

Featured photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons in Productivity, Tutorials, 0 comments
How to Import Documents into Evernote

How to Import Documents into Evernote

This article provides instructions on how to import documents into Evernote.  This can be helpful as a way to use Evernote as a document manager and keep everything in one place. 

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

You can do more than just take notes with Evernote.  Evernote has the capacity to be a document manager, as well.  Add files to an existing note to annotate, tag, or sort for reference later.

There are three ways to add files to Evernote:

  1. Add an attachment
  2. Scan to Evernote directly
  3. Take a Photo with Evernote Phone App

Add An Attachment

This option is for importing a file that already exists on your computer. 

  1. Open Evernote in a browser, or on your desktop.
  2. Create a note and add a note title.
  3. Add attachment using the paperclip icon for a document, or the shutter icon for a photo or image.

Select the document you want to upload.

Important Notes:

  • Multiple attachments can be added to a single note. 
  • Document Files, spreadsheets, and presentations will display as a bar and name (screenshot).
  • PDF documents can be viewed in full. 
  • Both formats can be downloaded at a later time to a different computer.

Scan To Evernote

This process requires you have the Evernote desktop version downloaded on your computer.  It also requires a scanner.

Scanning to Evernote is useful for converting paper files into digital PDF documents and uploading to Evernote without saving a copy on your computer. 

  1. Open your scanner software on your computer.
  2. In the “Scan To” option, find and select the Evernote Desktop Application
  3. Scan the item with the settings needed for your scan.
  4. Items will automatically be added to your default notebook.

For more detailed instructions based on software and scanner brand, see the following:

Epson - Document Manager
  1. Open the Document Capture software installed when you set up your Epson scanner.
  2. Make sure your Epson scanner is turned on and connected to your computer either hardwired or Bluetooth enabled.
  3. Select the “Manage Job” icon (paper with gear), or select Manage Job from the Scan navigation menu.
  4. Create a job function on the pop-up window. This will allow you to create individual settings for different scans, such as single-page text scans, or multi-page color and high-resolution scans.
  5. In “Destination” select Evernote, and the notebook you want scans to be added to.
  6. Save the job – and start scanning!

Take a Photo with the Evernote Phone App

You can add documents and images to Evernote using your phone.  This feature allows you to add to an existing note, or create a new note.

Add to an existing note

  1. Open the app
  2. Choose the note you want to add the document or photo to
  3. Place your cursor in the location of the note you wish to add the attachment
  4. Tap the Camera icon at the top. 
  5. If you are taking an image photo, tap the screen for the shutter button to appear and tap the button to take a photo.
  6. If you are capturing a document, place the document on a contrasting background and line up with the guides in the app.  The app will take the photo automatically when aligned correctly.  Continue taking photos to add to the collection.  Tap the green checkbox when done capturing.

Create a new note

  1. Android: tap the Add icon and options will appear above.  Select the camera.
  2. iPhone: tap and hold the Add icon for options.  Select the camera.
  3. Take photos of the the document or image you wish to capture.  Tap the checkmark when done.
  4. Label the note.

To attach an existing file from your phone, follow one of the steps above (add to existing note or create a new note) and instead of tapping the camera icon, tap the paper-clip icon to add an attachment.

Posted by Amanda Parsons in Productivity, Tutorials, 0 comments
Tables in Word: The Next Level (Intermediate)

Tables in Word: The Next Level (Intermediate)

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

This article will provide an overview of how to use some tables feature in Microsoft Word.  Specifically, this article will cover the following:

  • Header Rows
  • Cell Margins vs. Spacing
  • AutoFit & Distribution
  • Sorting Table Content
  • Splitting Tables

For more on creating and editing tables, read the first article in this series: Using Tables in Word.

Quick Note
This tutorial uses Microsoft Office on Mac. Office on Mac has slightly different functionality than Office for Windows. If you are using a Windows computer, the locations of settings may vary.

Header Rows

Header rows are the first row in a table if the content helps identify the data below it.  For example, if your first column includes foods, you would label the first row in your first column “Food”.

Table Header Row with a background color to make it stand out.
Table Header Row with a background color to make it stand out.

Repeating Header Rows

If your table overflows onto a new page, it is helpful to repeat the header rows at the top of the page.  This allows readers to identify column content without referencing a previous page.

You can set up your table to automatically repeat headers at the top of each new page for your table.

Put your cursor in a cell in the first row, or header row.  Navigate to the Layout tab and click Properties.  Click the Row tab at the top of the window.  Under the Options section, select Repeat as header row at the top of each page.

If your cursor is not located in the first row, the option for a header row will be unavailable. Navigate to the first row from this window by clicking the Previous Row button at the bottom of the window.

Cell Margins vs. Cell Spacing

In the previous article, we covered how to align content within a cell.  In this section, we will discuss how far away that content is from other content in adjacent cells.  For this, we use margins and spacing.

  • Spacing: The amount of space, in pixels, between cells.
  • Margins: The amount of space, in pixels, from the side of a cell wall to the content.
An example of cell spacing. Space between cells.
Example of cell margins. The margin of space between a cell wall and content.

If you do not have any visible borders, the effect of these two can look identical.  Show borders to see the difference.

There are no rules for when to use one vs. the other.  Choose one or both of these features based on how you want the table, and the content of the table, to appear.

Adding spacing creates an even amount of space between all cells in the table.  Alternatively, use margins if you want to adjust a single cell.

Add Cell Spacing to Table

Place your cursor inside the table for which you want to add spacing.  

Click the Layout tab on your ribbon.

Click Cell Margins.

Make sure the Default Cell Spacing option is checked.  Type the desired spacing or click the up or down arrows to adjust the spacing.

Change Cell Margins in Table

Cell Margins can be changed universally across the entire table, or individually.  

To change cell margins for the whole table, navigate to the Layout tab, then click Cell Margins.

Under Default Cell Margins adjust the top, bottom, left, and right margins for the table.  Click OK.

To adjust the margins of an individual cell, make sure your cursor is inside the cell you wish to change. Navigate to the Layout tab, then click Properties.  

Table properties window
Table Properties Window
You can also access this window with a 2-finger click (the Mac version of right-click) and selecting Table Properties…

At the top of the window, click Cell, then Options.  To adjust just the individual cell, uncheck the box next to Same as the whole table.  Then, adjust the top, bottom, and sides as desired.  

Click OK in this window, and OK in the Table Properties window to exit.

Auto-Distribute Rows and Columns

In the beginner’s guide, we covered how to resize column widths and row heights by dragging the border.  This can be frustrating if you are trying to resize all columns or rows to the same width or height.  

There are two ways you can adjust a table or column size with 1-click: AutoFit and Distribute.

AutoFit Table

Place your cursor in the table you wish to resize and navigate to the Layout tab.  Click the AutoFit button and you will see a drop-down with three choices:

  • AutoFit Contents: this adjusts all column widths so they are only as wide as the widest cell in each column.  Especially useful if you are trying to condense your table.
  • AutoFit Window: this adjusts the table so that it fits within the confines of the content margins.  
    • Example: if your page has a margin width of 1 inch on each size, and you resize the page to have 0.5 inches on each side, the table will remain the original size.  To make the table the same width as the page, use this feature.  It will keep the proportions of your columns.
  • Fixed Column Width: this turns off AutoFit so your table does not adjust to the page while you are working.
autofit contents in Word table
AutoFit Contents feature
autofit window feature for tables in word
AutoFit Window feature

Distribute Rows and Columns

This feature allows you to adjust the height of your rows, or width of your columns, so they are uniform.  

Highlight all rows or columns you wish to change.  Click Distribute Rows or Distribute Columns as applicable.

distribute column widths in word tables
Distribute Column Widths

You will notice that the size of your table does not change. Word takes the average of each height or width and distributes evenly.

After distributing, you can increase or decrease the size of cells using the height and width tools.

Sorting Content in a Table

You can sort the text within each column alphabetically, by date, or by number.  This can be beneficial if you want to display data from highest to lowest, by name, or most to least recent.

You will need to know two things about your table before you sort:

  • How many Columns your table has and which column you wish to sort.
  • If your table has a header row.

Counting Columns

Columns are counted from left to right.  The first column will be the one to the farthest left.  This is Column 1.  The second column will be directly to the right of the first column (Column 2), and so forth.

counting columns and rows in a table in word
Counting Columns and Rows

If you do not have a header row, you will want to know the number of the Column you wish to sort.

Header Rows

A header row is not part of the data below and always needs to remain on top.  You do not want to sort a header row or it will get mixed in with the rest of the data.

For more information on header rows, see the section above.


Make sure your cursor is in the table you wish to sort.  Then, navigate to the Layout tab and click Sort.

This will bring up the Sort window.  

Sort window in word
The Sort Window in Word

If you have a header row, under the option My list has… select the radio button for the Header row.  Making this selection will change your options in the first dropdown.  

By selecting “No header row”, columns will be listed by number.  All rows in that column will be subject to sorting.

Select the column you wish to sort under the Sort by… section.  Then, select the type of content (text, number, date).  

Finally, define whether the content is ascending or descending (such as A-Z or Z-A).  

Sorting a column will move the entire row as well.  If your food column has Apples, and the next column is the number of apples purchased in a week (65), sorting apples to the top of the table will move the 65 along with it.  Rows stick together.

sorting a table column in word
Sorting a column

Splitting a Table in Word

Splitting a table means dividing a table into two separate tables with a space of text between the two tables.  

Splitting is helpful if the content is better represented by two tables.

You can only split a table horizontally between rows, not vertically.  Before splitting next to a cell, place your cursor in the row you want to be the last row in the first/top table.  This will make the row below it the first row in the second/bottom table.

The Split Table function is in the Layout tab, next to the Merge Cells and Split Cells options.  

Split table icon
Split Table Icon

Once you split a table, you can edit each table individually.  

With these tips, you are going to be the Word-wizard your company was looking for!

Interested in more advanced features, like converting text to tables or adding formulas? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted by Amanda Parsons in Tutorials, 0 comments
Creating Tables in Word: The Basics

Creating Tables in Word: The Basics

This article provides an overview of how to use the tables feature in Microsoft Word.  Specifically, this article will cover table elements, adding tables, adjusting and editing table sizes and cells, alignment, and table design.  

By having a better understanding of how table elements function, you should be able to create, edit, and troubleshoot table errors.

Quick Note
This tutorial uses Microsoft Office on Mac. Office on Mac has slightly different functionality than Office for Windows. If you are using a Windows computer, you will still benefit from understanding how tables work, but any included screenshots or locations of settings may vary.

What is a Table?

A table is a grid that you can put content (text, images) into.  The primary reason for using tables is to format the content into a specific shape – such as aligning text.

Important Vocabulary:

Table – A rectangular grid made up of multiple cells.

Cells – Individual blocks for which text or images can be placed.  Together, cells make up a table.

Table and cell outline

Columns – Continuous line of cells running vertically.  The number of cells across a table indicates the number of columns.  Each column is only one cell wide.

Rows – Continuous line of cells running horizontally.  The number of cells up and down a table indicates the number of rows.  Each row is only one cell tall.

Columns vs Rows Gif
This table has 4 Columns and 3 Rows.

Word vs. Excel

Use tables in Word for organizing content visually. Tables help align text and images in a way that makes it easy to read and creates awesome layouts.

However, if you are interested in using a table for accounting, or to hold data for which you plan to make graphs, I recommend using Excel.  The mathematical properties in Microsoft Excel far outweigh the capacity of a Word table.  

Depending on your goal, you can create a database in Excel and then import it into Word. The new table will have similar editing functionality as other tables in Word.

How to Add Tables in Word

When adding a table to a Word document, it is less important to know how many columns and rows you need and more important to know where you want to put the table.

Place your cursor in the location you wish to place the table.  

Pro Tip
I recommend having at least one line of text (or a space where text could go) below where you are placing the table. This will make it easier to add text later.

In your Ribbon click the Insert tab.  This will bring up all the elements you can insert into your document.

Click the Table button.  This will bring a drop down that allows you to select how many rows and columns you want in your table.  Use your mouse to highlight the number of cells you want in your table.  You can see the size at the top of the grid (the first number is columns, the second number is rows).  

Alternatively, you can click Insert Table below the grid and directly enter the number of rows and columns you want for your table.

Adding a table in Microsoft Word

Tables will default to the width of the page or available space.  They will be inserted “In Line”, meaning there is text above and below, and the table moves with the content on the page.  

Columns will default to be evenly spaced.  Rows will default to be evenly spaced and the height of the body font in the document. 

A new table will have no formatting, except for a black border between all cells and around the outside of the table.  

New Table Elements

What are the boxes outside the table? Once a table has been inserted into your document, you will notice two boxes outside of the table.  

The first box is in the upper left-hand corner of the table and has a cross of arrows.  Clicking and holding this box will allow you to move the table to another part of the document.

The second box is in the bottom right-hand corner of the table.  Clicking and dragging this box will allow you to resize the table.

Gif of moving and stretching a table in Microsoft Word.

Adding Content to a Table

Now that the table is created, it is time to add content to the table.  

In the example below, I am making sure to add headers to each of the columns, as well as categories in the rows.  

You can also add images to the inside of a cell by making sure your cursor is placed inside the cell you want to add the image to and then clicking the Insert tab, followed by Media.

Adding More Cells, Rows, and Columns

Let’s say I start adding my content and then I realize – I forgot to create a row for the outcome of my chart!

Adding cells is relative to the position of your cursor, so it is important to place your cursor in the correct cell.

In this circumstance, I want to create another row at the bottom of my current table.  

Place the cursor in the bottom row.  Then, double-click (right-click equivalent on a Mac) and there is a pop-up selection panel.  

Hover over Insert, then select Rows Below.  This will add one row below the row in which my cursor is placed.

Adding a row to the bottom of a table.
Pro Tip
There is an easier way to add another row to the bottom of the table. Place your cursor at the end of the content/text in the last cell in the last row, then hit ‘Enter’ on your keyboard. A new row will appear!

If you want to add a row between two rows, place your cursor in one of the adjacent rows and select ‘above’ or ‘below’ as desired.

The same process can be used to add columns to a table.

Deleting Cells, Rows, and Columns

To delete a cell, row, or column, first place your cursor in the location of the cell, row, or column you wish to delete.

If you just want to delete the contents of a cell, highlight the cell and press the Delete button on your keyboard.  

Otherwise, double-click on a cell and select the option Delete cells…
You will see a pop-up window that asks how you want to delete the cells.

You have four options:

  • Shift cells left – This removes just one cell and moves all the cells in the row to the right of it to the left.  It will cause a different number of columns in that row compared to the other rows in the table.
  • Shift cells up – This removes just one cell and moves all the cells in the column below up one.  It will cause a different number of rows in that column compared to the other columns in the table.
  • Delete entire row – Removes an entire row in the table.
  • Delete entire column – Removes an entire column in the table.

Adjusting Table Size

As mentioned above, clicking and dragging the bottom, right-hand, box will reshape the entire table, keeping the cells evenly distributed.  This is the best way to adjust a table width without distorting a single column.

Here are more ways to shape tables in Word.

Resizing Entire Column

Columns can be resized individually by clicking on the border between the columns and dragging from side to side.  Wait for the cursor to turn into two vertical lines with arrows facing away from each other. Then, click on the border and move your mouse to resize.  

If you want to resize a column to a specific width, highlight the column and navigate to the Layout tab in the Ribbon.  Click Cell Size drop down and enter the exact width in the provided fields.

Resizing Individual Cell Width

Unlike Excel, tables in Word allow you more flexibility for resizing individual cells.

To resize the width of a column for only one row, highlight at least one cell adjacent to the cells you are trying to resize.  Then, follow the same instructions as above.

Resizing Columns in Word Tables

Redistributing Width of Multiple Columns

To resize some of the columns so they are all the same width, use the Distribute Columns tool.

Highlight the columns you want to be the same width.  In the Ribbon, navigate to the Layout tab.  Click Cell Size drop down and select Distribute Columns.  

Distributing Columns in a table in Microsoft Word.

Resizing Entire Row

Similar to the instructions above, rows can be expanded upon individually or as a group.

Resizing Individual Cell Height

Unlike Columns, Row heights cannot be adjusted individually by cell.  Cells in a single row will always be the same height.

Redistributing Width of Multiple Rows

Use the instructions above for columns, changing out rows as highlighted and selecting Distribute Rows.

Merging and Splitting Cells

Not all tables are an exact grid and you may need to combine or separate cells.  Merging cells is when you select multiple adjacent cells and make them one cell.  Splitting cells is when you take a single cell and divide it into multiple columns or rows.

To merge cells, first highlight the cells you wish to merge.  Cells need to occur in the same row and/or column and be adjacent to each other.  

Then, under the Layout tab, select Merge.

Merging Cells in table in Microsoft Word

To split cells, place a cursor in the cell you wish to split.  Under the Layout tab, select the Merge drop down and click Split Cells.  A pop-up window will appear asking you how many rows and columns you would like to split the cell into.  Enter the desired numbers and click okay.

Splitting cells in tables in Microsoft Word

Cell Alignment

The alignment inside a cell refers to how the text and/or images display in relation to the inner walls of the cell itself.  

There are nine (9) different alignments within a cell based on two directions: side to side, and up and down.

Options for the vertical and horizontal alignment of content in a cell.

As you can see in the image, cell content can be aligned to the right, left or center of the cell, as well as to the top, middle, or bottom of the cell.

Cell alignment can be set individually; cells of different alignment can be contained in the same table.

To set the alignment of a cell, simply place your cursor in the cell you want to change (or highlight multiple cells you wish to change together) and navigate to the Layout tab.  Click the Alignment drop down and select your desired alignment.

cell alignment in tables in microsoft word

Cell margins and cell spacing can also play a role in how content is aligned.

Table Design

This is definitely the fun part of creating a table.  Creating tables in Word is all about making your content easy to read. This is where design comes in.

Preset Styles

The easiest way to style your table is to use one of the prebuilt table designs provided by Word.  With a variety of styles, you can find something with helpful shading, header styles, and more!

To use a preset style, start by making sure your cursor is placed inside the table.  Navigate to the Table Design tab.  The options for preset styles is located in the band on the top.  You can view more designs by clicking on the arrow button that appears to the left of the styles, or the down-arrow tab to open up all options.

Table Design Presets in the Ribbon.
Table Design Presets; expanded for more options.

Click on a style you like to see it in action.  Don’t like it?  Click the Undo button or click Command+Z on your keyboard.  Or, just select another style.

Note: Presets will override existing styles or cell alignment.

You can also take a preset style to get you most of the way and edit the style further to your liking.  Read more about Borders and Shading below for tips on editing the style of your tables in word.


Borders refer to the four walls around a cell.  They are styled in 3 ways:

  • Thickness
  • Color
  • Line style (solid, dots, dashed, etc.)

This walkthrough will cover two ways to edit a border: Quick change and the Borders & Shading Console.

Quick Change

To change a border of a single cell or a group of highlighted cells, navigate to the Table Design tab.  The Borders section of the ribbon contains the following elements: 

1Border StylesThis is a quick-pick sampler of border styles based on your document styles.
2Line StyleSelect the style of the border line you want to use.
3ThicknessSelected by pixels (also known as “weight”).
4Pen ColorThe color of the border.
5BordersWhich side of the cell you want to add/remove/change.
6Border PainterA tool that allows you to hand-select the border you want to change based on the settings you select in the ribbon.

Borders & Shading Console

For more control over the design and style of borders in the table, click the Borders… drop down arrow and select Borders and Shading…

This window will appear:

Borders and Shading window in Microsoft Word.
Borders and Shading Window

From this window you can select the table, cells, or page for which you wish to add a border. The border buttons around the diagram on the right will engage or disengage a style you’ve created on the left side of the window.


Shading refers to the color in the background of a cell.  Using shading can be helpful for defining header cells or important data points.

Navigate to the Table Design tab.  Click the Shading icon for a list of colors.  The colors provided will be based on the set design style of the document.  You can select a new color by clicking More colors… and then defining the color you want from the palate.

Shading tables in microsoft word

You can also access shading options by navigating to the Borders and Shading… window as described above in Borders.

Now some final touches…

It’s a Tie! I mean, come’on. They are both so cute.

Ready to take on more Tables?  Read: Tables in Word: The Next Level!

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How To Track Job Applications In Evernote

How To Track Job Applications In Evernote

Searching for a new job is stressful.  You might send out 100 resumes before you find the perfect job.  Make it easier on yourself by keeping your applications in order and easy to find.   Did you know you can track job applications in Evernote?

If you haven’t heard of Evernote or thought it was only a note-taking app, it is time to brush up on what this tool can do.  In this article, we will cover how to keep track of all the job applications you have submitted during your job search.

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Benefits of Using Evernote

  • Online access means your job search can happen anywhere
  • Everything is in one place – no need to open many files
  • Search for job keywords to find past applications
  • Track the status of a job application
  • Check if you’ve applied to a company before and if so, which job.
Quick Note
You will need an Evernote account to use the following tutorial.

The following steps will help you get set up to start tracking.

Create a Job Notebook

Your first step will be to create a notebook for all your job applications. Title this notebook “Job Applications” and add any letter or numbering system, if you use one.

Don’t create a stack or separate notebooks for each company or job type. Keep it simple and use Evernote’s powerful search function.

You Might Also Enjoy: How to Organize Evernote Notebooks for Ultimate Productivity

Job Application Tracking Template

For every job you apply to, use the same template.  This will make it easier as you move forward to know exactly what you sent and what is a part of each job.

Title your template “Job Application Template” and save it in your “Job Applications” notebook.  Create a shortcut to this note so you can use it over and over.

Keep a clean (empty) template and don’t copy from a job application note that you have previously filled out. Why?

If you re-use (copy from) a job template that already has content from another job, you may accidentally forget to remove old information.

It would be tragic to follow up with a hiring manager that never posted the job in question because you forgot to remove their contact information in the new note.

That won’t be you, though.  Because you now have a template you can use.

Job Tracker Template

Quickly check the status of your job applications and never forget to follow up again!

Evernote Plus, Pro, or Business User? Create a template and avoid the problem altogether!

How to Use the Job Application Tracker Template

The template may seem super simple, but that is the point.  It is important not to over complicate and allow you to get right to the point.

Fill in the details

Find a job you want to apply for?  Copy the job description, title, date the job closes and other details into your tracker.   Don’t rely on the job link.  Job postings get removed and expire.  The link may not work by the time the hiring manager starts reaching out to people for interviews.  This is especially important when preparing for interviews.

Read This: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Job

Attach application files

This process is, after all, a job application tracker. Add your applications!

Evernote makes a simple note a multimedia opportunity.  If you created a custom resume for the job, and you should, you can attach it into the note.  

File Attachments to track job applications in evernote
Attach your resume and cover letter so you know what you presented to the company.

Attach your completed application.  If an online application allows you to “print” a version at the end, print it to a PDF or image file and attach it here.  This will help you if you get a callback.  Plus, it never hurts to have more information.

Set application status

This is an important part of the process, as it lets you know where each application left off.  You won’t wonder: “Did I follow up on this one already or was that the other project manager position?”

status update in job tracker template
Keep adding to the “Status” section.

The trick to success is to make the status quick to read and easy to understand.  Always include a date for the last time you did anything with the job application.  

For example:

04.15.2018 – Submitted Job Application and Resume

This tells you that on April 15th you applied for the job.  More importantly, it tells you that you haven’t done anything with that job since.

Let’s say the job application closed on April 30th and it is now May 7th.  If you haven’t heard anything, it might be time to reach out and follow up – let them know you are still interested in the job.  After you do this, you would add another line that says as much.

04.15.2018 – Submitted Job Application and Resume
05.07.2018 – Sent email to the hiring manager to saying I’m still interested (See attached)

If the hiring manager responds, you can include anything important then.

04.15.2018 – Submitted Job Application and Resume
05.07.2018 – Sent email to the hiring manager to saying I’m still interested (See attached)
05.10.2018 – Hiring Manager said they will start interviews by the end of the month and to follow up then.

Track job applications in Evernote until the final status reads one of the following:

06.02.2018 – Position Filled

Or, better yet:

06.02.2018 – Position Filled – BY ME! 🙂

Job Application Tracker Pinterest Image

Photo Credit: Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

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Auto Accident Report

Auto Accident Report

Recently I found myself sitting in my car, waiting for a tow truck after having been rear-ended on a highway.  For those of you unfamiliar with the process, calling a tow truck bestows upon you the gift of time.

My adrenaline was starting to dissipate and with my head clearing up from the accident I realized I need to start recording everything.  I had exchange information with the other driver, and taken photos.  Now I needed to recall the events before I forgot anything.

Using Evernote for Everything

I pulled out my phone and opened the Evernote App (my go-to for note taking).  I opened a new note and stared at the blank screen.  Where do I start?  What do I record?  How do I link all the information I have from photos to contact info?

Eventually I bumbled my way through it, but in times of crisis, it is helpful to have a guide.  What if I hadn’t remembered to document the location of the accident and now the other driver and I have conflicting reports?  What if I forgot to get the insurance information of the other driver, or their phone number?  

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Auto Accident Report Template

The result of that accident is an Evernote Template for Auto Accident Reports.  I developed this template to help other Evernote users avoid the situation I was in.  This report is to help you identify what you need to know and document.  It is your tool to account for the events of an accident.

Safety First
Address injuries and move vehicles to a save location before filling out this report.

The key here is to download it now so you won’t have to worry about it if the time ever comes. 

Save the template to your Evernote Account.  For those with the Plus, Premium, or Business license of Evernote, you can save a template for quick select. For those using Evernote’s free version, duplicate the note each time to need a fresh copy.

Don’t have Evernote? Get Started Using Evernote.

By saving as a template, you don’t have to search for it.  If you find yourself in an accident, simply open a new note and select “Templates”.

Walkthrough of selecting a template with Pro version of Evernote.
Quick selecting a template in Evernote on a mobile device.

Here is what the Accident Reporting Template includes:

  • Location of the accident
  • Weather and Road conditions
  • Description of the accident from your point of view
  • Damage sustained to vehicles
  • Contact information of any other drivers
  • Police contact information in the accident jurisdiction
  • Personal injury of all passengers and parties
  • Insurance claims and area to continue follow up on reporting and claims

We never want an accident to happen, and so the unplanned nature means we can get caught off-guard if they do occur.  While this template won’t prevent an accident, it can help you mitigate the fall out.

Accident Report

Use this Evernote template to record details and easily make accurate claims.

As always, drive safe and remember people come first.  

Photo by takahiro taguchi on Unsplash

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How to Organize Recipes & Create Meal Plans with Evernote

How to Organize Recipes & Create Meal Plans with Evernote

How do you organize recipes you find online? From low-fat vegan health blogs to southern comfort food, you can find a recipe for anything. Combine the love of cooking with the potential for a career in cooking and you get a plethora of online food blogs.

This makes it easy when you are searching for a new recipe to bring to your favorite holiday party.  Looks delicious?  Bookmark it!

Except, how do you find it again on your phone when you are in the grocery store trying to buy ingredients?

Let’s say you are on Pinterest and see a recipe that looks great for the summer and want to save it for later. But who are you kidding?  Your Pinterest board (Food!) has thousands of pins.  Good luck finding that one again!

The question isn’t ‘where do I find recipes?’.  The question is, ‘how do I save and manage all the recipes I find?’.

This article will help you organize recipes using Evernote.  At the end of this walkthrough you will be able to:

  • Easily search and find any recipe you’ve saved
  • Edit recipes so they fit your taste or ingredients
  • Add your own photos so you know what the recipe really looks like
  • Create meal plans from your recipes
Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Setting up Evernote

Quick Note

Start by setting up two notebooks: Inbox and Recipes.

The first notebook is your Inbox notebook.  An Inbox notebook is your dumping ground of notes before being processed. Exactly like a physical or email inbox, actually.   

We will use the Inbox notebook as a way to test recipes before adding them to the Recipes notebook.  Then you know which recipes you haven’t tried yet.

The second notebook should be your Recipes notebook.  This will be where you put all the recipes you’ve tried, liked, and want to use again.

This walkthrough will use Evernote for Desktop, but you can also use Evernote in your browser.

You might also enjoy: How to Organize Evernote Notebooks for Ultimate Productivity

Saving a Recipe

Find a recipe you want to try.  If you are using Pinterest, be sure to open the recipe to the webpage where the content lives.

Online recipe blog example
The kind of deliciousness you might find on a recipe blog.

Using your Web Clipper tool, save the recipe to your Inbox notebook.

Evernote Web Clipper drop down in dark mode
Drop down of the web clipper tool in Dark Mode

Select the notebook where you want it to go (Inbox) and select Article.  You will see a green outline of the area that will be clipped.  By selecting “Article” instead of “Full Screen”, web clipper won’t capture all the banner ads on a site.

Side Note
The Web Clipper tool has this fantastic feature where you can set it to “Smart Filing”. This means it guesses where the bookmark should live based on the content. You can override this feature in settings, or by manually selecting a notebook.

Now let’s take a look at what ended up in our Inbox.

Cleaning Up Notes

The content in the main body of the article will be in the note. A link back to the original blog post is at the top so you won’t forget where you found the recipe.

Source of the clipped article appears at top of Evernote note

At the time of this writing, this link is only seen on the desktop version, not in the web version of Evernote.

Also included in this note are all the photos, the author’s description, and even some in-line ads.  

Clipped recipe article with banner ads

I recommend deleting extraneous photos and resizing text so the note is easier to read.

Now you have a nice and tidy recipe note you can reference in the future.

Organized Recipe in Recipe Notebook in Evernote
Nice and tidy!

Using and Editing Recipes

If this note is for “sometime in the future” it may live in your Inbox for a while.  But, if you want to try the recipe soon, set a reminder to use the recipe.

Step One:

Add a reminder to Evernote note to help organize recipes.

Step Two:

Reminder set in Evernote to return to recipe

Now comes the fun part – making the recipe!

Like most recipes, you may find that you need to make alterations.  Because Evernote is the ultimate note-taking tool, it is meant for just this purpose.   

You can make notes as you cook, or go back later and make suggestions for the next time you make the recipe.

Types of notes to include:

  • Substitutions for ingredients that you use
  • Extra steps to help make a recipe clearer Removing instructions you find misleading or unnecessary for your preferences
  • Instructions on when to serve or what plates you like to serve it on
  • Versions of the recipe (for example, a spicier version for her, or more mild version for him)
  • Notes about cooking this recipe in tandem with another recipe (such as a side dish).
  • In Evernote, you can create a link to another note!

Organize Recipes

Once you’ve tried a recipe, it is time to make a decision.

Should you save that blog recipe? Pinterest image decision tree.
Should you save the recipe for later?

Do you see yourself making this recipe again?  Was the recipe tasty?  Could you edit the recipe to make it better?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, it is time to move it into your Recipes notebook.

At the top of the note, click on the Inbox notebook.  From here, you can move this note to another notebook.   

Notebook selected in Evernote

You can repeat the above process to organize recipes from all your favorite blogs.  Clip, edit, and save to your Recipes notebook.   

Creating Meal Plans

Meal planning is easy with your Recipes notebook.  It is like having a cookbook with only your favorite, tested, recipes!

Go to your Recipes notebook and create a Meal Planner note.  Don’t reinvent the wheel – Office Otter has a Meal Planner template you can use for free!   Download and add it to your Recipes notebook.

meal planner on ipad in evernote

Meal Planner

Save your recipes each week with this Evernote template.

You can change up the days of the week in the left column so they start on any day that works for you.   

If you plan snacks or eat 4-6 small meals, add columns by clicking on the (+) icon between columns.

When you have the Meal Planner grid set up, save the note as a template so you can create it over and over each week.

Office Otter Meal Planner Template for Evernote Instructions to save Template

Open the Meal Planner note in another tab within Evernote.  Then you can switch between your meal plan and your recipes.

To open another tab, click right-click (Mac: 2-finger click) on the meal plan note and select ‘Open Note in New Tab’.

Start adding recipes to your meal planner.   Search your Recipes notebook and find a recipe you want to add to the meal plan.

Right click on the recipe note in the note list and select “Copy Note Link” In the Meal Planner note, place your cursor in the cell you want to include the recipe.  Right-click and select “Paste” or Ctrl+V (Mac: Command+V).  This will paste both the link and the name of the note (recipe name).

Add a link to another note in Evernote.
This is how to add a link to another note in Evernote.

In the end, your meal plan should look like this:

Grocery List

Once you have the week planned, add ingredients from each recipe to the Shopping List.  

Combine any duplicate ingredients to get your grocery list for the week.  

Cross-reference your grocery list with what you have on hand.   

And there you have it!  An organized recipe book you can use over and over and an easy way to produce a meal plan for the week or month.

Leave a comment below and share how you like to organize recipes.

Featured photo by: Canva.com

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How to Use Evernote to Stay Organized In School

How to Use Evernote to Stay Organized In School

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

The Business of Education is an institution designed to challenge students to develop learning techniques and time management skills as much as it serves to impart quality education.

Many have found themselves drowning from school work even if they possess a firm understanding of course material.

This shouldn’t be the case.  

Learning techniques, time management, and organizational skills can be learned.  Or, borrowed from.  That is where Office Otter is here to help.

That’s why we created the Class & Lecture Notes Template to help you keep track of school and coursework.

Step 1: Download Evernote

If you don’t have it already, download the Evernote program. It has a free-version, so you can save your pizza money. 🙂

Get started with Evernote.

Step 2: Download Class & Lecture Notes Template for Evernote

Access Class Notes on Evernote for iPad

Class Notes

A template to help you keep track of lecture notes and class assignments.

The following information will explain the different sections of the template and how to best use it.

Note Title

Make finding your note easy by using this title system:

Breakdown of the proper way to title a class or lecture note.

Instructor Contact Information

Add this to the top of the document so it is easily accessible.  This information should be provided in your syllabus.  

Don’t forget to include office hours!


Upload the syllabus and attach it to this note.

A syllabus is a contract between you and the expectations of the class.  

Additionally, a good syllabus will include important learning objectives and a reading list.  These two things are very helpful, not just during class but to have in your records afterward.  It will help you reference what you learned when you are applying for jobs.

Some professors are weird about protecting their syllabus.  It comes down to wanting to protect their intellectual property in the field of academia.  Be respectful of how you use their materials and don’t sell it or pass it off as your own course.  However, don’t be dissuaded from keeping the information for your own records – if you paid tuition that knowledge is yours.

Homework and Projects

This is where you list all the things you need to do for the class.  This includes homework, projects, and even studying for a test.

Use the checkbox feature in Evernote so you know what you’ve completed. Plus, it provides a very satisfying “Check” once you’ve completed or turned in the assignment.

Want to make sure you don’t forget an assignment?  Create a reminder on this note and an alarm to check back before the due date.

Lecture Notes

Under this section, simply start each lecture with a date and proceed with notes in whatever format you prefer (bullets, highlighting, etc.)  Include questions you have in red text and highlight anything you believe may be on an exam.

If your professor is generous enough to provide the slides to a lecture, download them and add them to this note.  

Pro Tip
Want to save a slide during a lecture? Take a photo with Evernote’s camera feature on the app and attach it to the lecture notes.

Finally – if you are the nice “let’s all be better students and share learning” type (yay!), you’ll be interested to know that you can share your lecture notes with other students.  

Simply click the share icon and you can send as an Evernote note, as an email, or even as a link on your social media.

Go forth, learning minds!  

As always, Office Otter <3 feedback.  What other templates would you like to see?

Featured photo by Sylvia Yang on Unsplash

Posted by Amanda Parsons in Tutorials, 0 comments
The Diary Note – 4 Ways to Use it in Evernote

The Diary Note – 4 Ways to Use it in Evernote

We all have things we need to keep track of. Whether it be important conversations, or tracking our exercise, we benefit from recording important information.

Bullet journals are great, but what about the stuff you want to track over a long period of time? Something you reference quickly?

This article covers four types of records you need to keep, and how to use a style of note taking called the Diary Note.

A diary note is simply a singular note that I keep adding to with dated entries. This is in contrast to separate notes on the same general topic.  

Benefits of a Diary Note

  • I don’t have to search through multiple notes to piece together information
  • I can read a history of information easily and track a story
  • It lets me know where I left off on a project or conversation
  • I can use it to link to additional content and provide context to other notes

Now that we’ve established what a diary note is, here are four examples of how to use it (IRL).

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.
Quick Note
We love Evernote for note taking. Get started using Evernote.

School Notes for a Single Class

You are so excited because you just signed up for Advanced Aerospace Engineering!  

The class is notoriously difficult and the last thing you want is to drop any balls while you are balancing the rest of your course load of Symbolic Dance of Native Cultures, Post-Modern Scottish Literature from 1943-1952, and Russian.

To keep everything organized, create a note and title it with the name of the course, course number, and quarter/semester you are taking the class.

Advanced Aerospace Engineering – AERO 445 – Spring 2019

Include the following information:

  • Class Schedule
  • Copy of the Syllabus
  • List of all homework and projects/tasks
  • List of exam dates and expected material
  • Lecture Notes
Access Class Notes on Evernote for iPad

Notes Template

Keep your lecture notes and class assignments in one place with this Evernote template.

Landlord Communications

It doesn’t matter how great of a relationship you have with your landlord – this is a CYA protocol.  You never know when something might go south and the “we’ll get to those repairs” turns into 6 months of deferred maintenance and you have to file a legal complaint.  

Having detailed records goes a long way toward helping your position as a tenant. 

Here’s how to track these conversations:

  1. Start each entry with a date and topic or subject line
  2. Write a description of the interaction.  Include the name(s) of those you spoke with and all details you can remember.  Especially include any conclusion or decision made.
  3. Include a link to any supportive documentations, like an email or maintenance request receipt.

This note type can be used for any important communications, such as with debt collectors, lawyers, accountants, or important and repeat customer service.  

Health Records

Many health care delivery systems and HMOs have complete health records for individuals.  

If you live in a country without single-payer insurance programs (like the United States) you may find yourself with disjointed health records.  

A health record note is one way to keep a lifelong diary of your health.  It provides you with a helpful overview of your medical history. That can be helpful for your doctors as well!

Follow the same instructions as above for logging descriptions and dates. Include copies of prescriptions and links to notes with doctors.

Hiking (or tracking exercise)

Like millions of other individuals around the globe, I enjoy outdoor recreation from time to time.

My Hiking Diary note will be a list of all the hikes I’ve accomplished.  

I create a new entry (same note) as such:

Date – Trail/Park Name – Miles Covered

Description should include the following:

  • Route taken (trail head started/ended and any changes in trails)
  • Start time and end time of the hike
  • Elevation gained or lost
  • Conditions of the trail (muddy, washed out, crowded, closed in parts)
  • Wildlife spotted
  • Opinions of trail and whether you would return or recommend

I also upload maps of trails to Evernote and link to them from the diary – creating an easy reference to where I’ve trekked.

And now you know how to create a diary note and how it is a great tool in Evernote.

How do you use a diary style note in Evernote?  What do you track? Leave your comments below.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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How to Process Financial Documents in Evernote

How to Process Financial Documents in Evernote

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Having a place for your financial transaction documents is an important part of staying organized.  Scanning transactional paperwork can often be the last, and most challenging, part of going paper free.  

Transactions are any of the following:

  • Receipts
  • Bills
  • Statements (different from bills, they simply report the status of something – like investments)
  • Tax Documents (W2, 1090, etc.)
  • Paystubs or checks (anything that is money to you)
  • Contracts (promises to pay, IOUs, financial agreements)

Some people would prefer not to have this information digital, and instead keep records on hand in paper form.  But what if, god forbid, there was a fire or flood?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a backup copy?

For others, going truly paper free is the goal and that is what this article is here to help you do.

Advantages to uploading Financial Documents

  • Paper free!  No more piles of mailed bills you already pay online.  A clutter-free desk!  Rediscovered storage space!
  • Easy, searchable, access to all your important financial documents.
  • Preservation of receipts – the carbon fades!  Trust me, it is embarrassing to hand your tax accountant a stack of blank paper rectangles.
  • The ability to cross-reference a note to another note.  Such as, linking a business receipt to budget spreadsheet.
  • Add comments to a document such as “paid on 4/10” or “pending account review” to keep track of the status of the bill or statement.
  • Forward note to company, accountant, or partner via email as necessary.  

If you weren’t on-board before, maybe you are thinking, “Interesting – tell me more”.  If you landed here because you are on the Evernote, paper free, organize my life, highway, you are probably thinking, “Let’s do this!”  

Well, let’s. 

Set Up Financial Notebooks

Create a stack of notebooks designated for all your financial documents.  It should look something like this:

Financial documents notebooks sorted by type in Evernote

Read: How to Organize Notebooks into Stacks

If you plan to use one category more than others (say, receipts), you can force the receipts notebook to the top of the list by leading the notebook name with a number.  Otherwise, the list of notebooks in the Finances stack will be alphabetical.

Use an Inbox

Going paper-free is great, but it is work that is never done.  You will regularly have bills, statements, and receipts that you need to process. Even if you have receipts sent to you via email, you will still want to store that receipt in your centralized system.

That is what an Inbox helps you with.  It is a centralized dumping ground for all the notes you haven’t yet processed and filed into the correct note. 

Read: How to Organize Evernote Notebooks for Ultimate Productivity

Likewise, you may already have a collection of financial documents uploaded to Evernote.  For this next step, move them into your Inbox.  This way, you can keep track of processing your financial documents.

Title Notes Systematically

Here is the gold: it is all about how you title your note.  This will make your receipt, bill, statement, etc. easier to find in the future.  It will also help you sort your notes.

Title all financial related documents with this structure:

Breakdown of Evernote Note Title for transactional documentation
  1. Date in this format: YYYYMMDD
  2. Type of document
    • Bill
    • Contract
    • Paystub (or Check)
    • Receipt
    • Statement
    • Taxes
  3. Name of establishment or business conducted
  4. Amount in transaction (skip for some statements and tax documents)

If you have receipts for home, and receipts for business, you may want to specify “Biz” or the name of the business in the title.  This way you can easily search and filter at a later time.  If you collect many business receipts or separate transactions, it may be a good idea to create a separate notebook for those documents.

Once you have titled a note accurately, leave any important comments in the body of the note to help you remember what the transaction is for or if any action is necessary.  

If you need to follow up on a note, be sure to use the Reminder feature in Evernote to receive follow up notifications. 

Finally, move the note from your Inbox into the appropriately specified notebook.  All done!

Do you use Evernote?  Have a different system?  Share your ideas in the comments below.

Photo by Katie Harp – Pinterest Marketing on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons in Tutorials, 0 comments