You’ve heard of Evernote before – maybe you have even used it casually in the past to take some notes.  But you are now ready to actually use Evernote to its fullest potential.  Because I can tell you right now, Evernote isn’t just a note taking app.

At base, Evernote is a series of notes stacked together with a few different search features (notebooks, search, and tags), the utility of these functions is entirely dependent on how you organize Evernote notebooks.

This article will cover how to organize your Evernote notebooks so that you can make the most of the program.

When you are done with this process, you will feel so organized and productive and ready to take on the world!  Everything will fit into its perfect place and that will make you unstoppable.  

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.

Before We Start

Download Evernote for Desktop

While you can perform many of these functions on your phone or a tablet, I highly recommend downloading Evernote to your desktop/laptop for these steps.  It will be a lot easier for this set up.

No Tags – Just Notebooks

For this process, I’ll be walking you through how to set up your Evernote account using Notebooks and Stacks.  If you are new to Evernote, this is how to set up Notebooks and Stacks.

You can follow along with these instructions by opening your Evernote desktop application and creating notebooks along with this post.  At the end, you will be on your way to a better, more organized life!  

!Inbox – The Foundation

I can’t take credit for inventing this trick, but I have seen it repeated a lot among Evernote Community because the functionality of an inbox is so powerful.  I learned about this from Stacey Harmon, an Evernote genius, who has found a way to use Evernote to literally power her life.

An Inbox is simply a notebook with all the notes you haven’t yet processed, filed, and/or tagged.  They may be notes without proper titles or unfinished thoughts.  They may be notes that are sent to Evernote via your email inbox or a bookmark you pinned from the Evernote Web Extension.  

Evernote Notebooks Left Side Bar System
Your Notebook Layout will look similar to this when you are done reading this post!

The word “Inbox” says it all.  It is the first spot dumping ground for you to sort through.

Why the exclamation point(!)?

Because it makes the notebook show up at the top of your notebooks list.  The list is alphabetical with symbols taking priority, followed by numbers, then letters.  

Make !Inbox your default notebook.

Then, anytime you jot something down it will show up there for you to review later.  You will regularly go through your Inbox, just like you do with email, to find something you haven’t finished yet.

If you have been using Evernote for awhile and are looking to reorganize existing notes, move all your notes into !Inbox to sort later with this new organizational system.

.System – A Reference

The next notebook you should create is a reference notebook.  This notebook will include notes that specify how to organize Evernote notebooks.  

You are going to love your organizational system – until 6 months from now when you get your tax return and you can’t remember if you were planning on filing that under “finance” or “business”?

This is how .System helps.  It is a quick reference notebook with notes that help you remember your own filing system.

Create three notes in this notebook:

  • Notebook Categories
  • How To Title Notes
  • Evernote Tips

The Notebook Categories note will be a bulleted list of all your notebooks and stacks with a description of what goes into each notebook.  

Example of Notebook Categories Note to sort Evernote Notebooks
Pro Tip
Follow along with this article and fill in this note as you go!

The How To Title Notes note provides instructions for processing notes before filing.  I find this helpful for financial or transactional notes.  

Screenshot of how to title Evernote notes

Finally, Evernote Tips.  As you become more familiar with Evernote, you will start learning new tips and tricks that help you become a better user.  
Evernote is more powerful than it first seems.  Use this note to keep track of all the Evernote tips that are interesting to you.  

You can start by creating link to this article for easy reference!

1. Finances

Now we get into the numbered notebooks in your organization.  This is the location of all your financial documents, which includes the following:

  • Receipts
  • Bills
  • Statements
  • Tax Documents
  • Paystubs
  • Contracts

In this category you have two options:

  • Option A: Create a stack of financial notebooks
  • Option B: Create a singular financial notebook and rely on the title to specify the financial note item.

Choose option A of you are uploading most if not all of your financial documents and/or you have hundreds of financial documents you need to sort through.

If you choose option A, create notebooks for all the above categories and then join them together in a stack.

Choose option B if you are only using Evernote for a couple categories (such as Receipts for your business and the occasional statement) and you don’t need to sort through all the notes at a more granular level.

If you choose option B, you will want to make sure you follow the Title and Tag process carefully so that you can easily search your notes.

You might like: How to Process Financial Documents in Evernote

2. Work

You don’t have to use Evernote at work in order to include a notebook with work-related items.  For each job you have had, or currently have, create a notebook.  In each notebook, create/upload notes for the following items:

  • Resume you used to get the job
  • Job description with specific dates and location of employment and manager contact information
  • Performance reviews
  • Projects, documents, and emails you are proud of (portfolio)
update status of job application in evernote

Job Tracker Template

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

Quick note...
I don’t actually use this set up for work, since I use Evernote for my business. I have a stack for each business (see Work A and Work B in notebook image above).

If you use Evernote for work, or use Evernote business, this section may look different for you, too.  

Let me know in the comments below if you are interested in an article on how to set up Evernote for your business (or how to use the ‘Evernote for Business’ product).

3. School

If you are in school, Evernote will serve as a great tool for you for many years to come.  

I recommend you create new note for each class you are taking, and treat the note like a diary of events and lecture notes.  As additional projects are added, link to them from your main class note.  

Read: How to Stay Organized in School with Evernote.

If you are no longer in school, but you have documents you want to save from school, create this notebook but give it a number lower down on the list.

4. Health

This notebook is a great way to easily reference your health history, experience at a doctor’s visit, details on your prescriptions, and more.  

I have a singular note for each family member in my household that contains an ongoing diary of health history.  

If you have regular prescriptions or a preexisting condition you need to track, it might be helpful to create a note specifically for each issue to track separately.

A diary note is a great way to include all information in one location.  Here is an example:

Health Diary Example in Evernote

Add to your diary by linking to additional notes in this notebook.  This cross linking will make it easier for you to reference additional materials.  

Using the example above, let’s say you want to include the specific prescription you received so you know what type of antibiotics you were prescribed.

  1. Take a photo of the prescription bottle or prescription note using your Evernote App camera function.  
  2. Add the photo note to your Health notebook
  3. While viewing the note on your phone, tap Share (or three dots on Android) and tap Copy (Internal) Link.
  4. When writing your health diary, paste the link in text.  The title of the note will be the link text.

Besides doctor’s appointments and prescriptions, this notebook is a great place to include an exercise routines, vaccination records, mental health information, or gym membership information.

Health insurance statements and medical bills will be categorized under “Financial”.

5. Home

This stack is incredibly helpful for anyone as it serves to collect all reference materials for your home.  

If you plan on using Evernote to go paper-free, you will be surprised by how much we accumulate that we never look at but can’t bare parting with.

Most common culprit?  Product manuals.  

Create the following notebooks:


  • Mortgage/Rental documents (Contracts, rules, addendums)
  • Conversations with your landlord (link to diary note post)
  • Homeowners/renters insurance documentation
  • Inventory of household items for insurance purposes
  • Note with reminders to change filters, or a list of all the sizes and power of lightbulbs you use in different lamps and overhead lighting

Manuals & Warranty

Scan in all the manuals and warranties for everything. Evernote Premium can search PDFs, making this a scan and done task. If you are using Evernote Basic, be sure to title the note with the name of the product.

This comes in handy: I ran out to my local hardware store to get a replacement filter, but forgot to write down the filter size. Quick search for my product manual and there it was!

Don’t want to bother scanning everything? You can find most manuals on line with a quick Google search. Add a link to the manual next to the name of a product in a note.


Find a recipe online you want to try?  Bookmark it with the Evernote app and it will add it to your !Inbox.  Tried it and liked it?  Move the note to this folder for repeat use.  Or, move and then edit to include any changes to the recipe.

Also great for scanning in Grandma’s Secret Recipe so it never gets lost.

Here is an in depth look at how you can use Evernote to organize and keep track of recipes.

Bonus: Template for meal prepping!


Maintenance receipts, title, warrantee information, and anything else you need to keep your baby running in tip-top shape.

Lawn & Garden

Can’t remember where you planted tulip bulbs last year?  Create a yard map and writing in what you planted and where.  Also, any instructions on plant care or vegetable growing calendars.

Have someone else manage your yard?  Scan maintenance paperwork so you remember the last time fertilizer was added or irrigation was tested.

6. Important Documents

This notebook may seem kind of silly – aren’t these all important documents?  

This location is for all the important documents that you don’t want to lose but don’t warrant their own notebook.  Examples include:

  • Marriage licenses
  • Birth certificates
  • Immigration documentation and/or Visas
  • Contracts and NDAs that don’t fit anywhere else
  • Last will and testament
  • Court paperwork
  • Certificates, Awards, and Degrees
  • Credit Reports
  • Voter Information

7. Collectables

Think of this notebook as your digital scrapbook.  You probably have a shoebox full of these things already.  Or an actual scrapbook.  But part of going digital and ditching paper is preserving these memories in another form.  

Ticket stubs, love letters, postcards from your traveling aunt – this are all the types of things that make it into the collectables folder.  Scan, title diligently, add your thoughts and feelings to the note, and save forever!  

Besides memorabilia, use Evernote as a “commonplace book”.  A commonplace book was a type of journal people used to carry around with them that would include quotes, poems, recipes, equations – basically any bit of information people didn’t want to lose.  More thoughts on a commonplace book by Evernote.

A thought on photos…

Photos are collectable, and something that most paper-free people move to digital.  But – and this is hard for me to say – I don’t think you should use Evernote to manage your photos.  

While Evernote can certainly work to store your photos – the whole point of photos is to look at them!

8. Hobbies

If you have a lot of involved hobbies, you can certainly create separate notebooks for each and then combine them into a stack to keep it tidy.

Here are some examples of hobbies and the types of notes you might want to create:


There is a surprising amount of paperwork that goes with boating.

  • Certifications (swimming, sailing)
  • Permits
  • Manuals for boat maintenance

Role Playing Games

  • Character sheets (create templates you can fill in and use on your favorite device!)
  • Maps and dungeon information
  • Links to favorite or upcoming campaigns

Knitting or Crochet

  • Use web clipper to create links to new patterns
  • Uploads and scans of your favorite patters
  • Gift List – a “who gets what” of your annual creations


  • Note with a list of books you want to read
    • Add it to your shortcuts list so you can easily pull it up when someone gives you a recommendation
  • Note with a list of books you DID/HAVE read and when you finished them.
    • Great if you have a reading goal and to look back
  • Book reviews that you write


  • Maps – upload them online to save space and then make a map available offline for when you go outside of your data range.
  • Keep a hiking diary so you know which trails you hit and how long it took. Also great to note whether you saw any wildlife and the weather conditions.

The sky is the limit when it comes to tracking hobbies!  

9. Business Cards

The Evernote app has a cool feature where you can use your phone camera to take a picture of a business card. It will then add that contact to your contacts list as well as connect with them on LinkedIn (premium feature).  

Then, Evernote keeps a copy in this folder.  

When I’m handed a business card, I take a photo right away and set a reminder to connect with that contact on whatever it was we spoke about.  

Oh, and then I hand the card back – because, you know, paper-free. 🙂

10. Templates

At some point in your life with Evernote, you will find you create a repeat style of note.  Maybe it is a recipe note, maybe it is a weekly task list.  After creating the note a few times you will realize that a template is what you need.  

If you have plus, premium, or business-level Evernote accounts, you can right-click a note and save as template.

This is a new feature as of 2019. Previously, all Evernote users had to copy existing notes.

For those with free accounts, copy a note into your Templates notebook and remove all body content you don’t want to replicate (basically, create a fresh version).

When you are ready to use the template, copy your clean “template-version” into the notebook you want it to go and fill in.

11. Notes

I admit, the title of this notebook is a bit on the nose.  However, this is your catch all.  The place where you put reference notes to something that doesn’t fit into any of the categories above. 

Our lives are not neat and tidy (as much as we would like them to be). Inevitably, there will be something that falls outside of the realm above.  

That is what this spot is for.  

Simply make sure the title and text are descriptive enough that you can search for it at a later time.

If the note is something you need to act on, however, it should live in !Inbox so you don’t forget it.   Or, set a reminder.

And that is how to organize Evernote notebooks.  With all your notebooks and stacks laid out, you have all you need to be organized in this digital world.  

how to organize evernote notebooks

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons

Amanda has always had an appreciation for writing instructions that are easy to follow. When not curled up with her laptop trying to figure out why Word on the Mac is so weird, she can be found kayaking in the Pacific Northwest.

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