Archive Your Electronic Notes

In the Summer of 2012, we asked 500 incoming UMN freshman what "digital stuff" were the hardest to manage and keep track of - and 30% of our new students said Digital Notes! We heard that you have trouble with issues such as: notes stored in too many places, switching or syncing devices, and note files not well named.

A Savvy Solution

Keeping track of your digital notes can be easier. Watch this 3 min video to learn a quick easy workflow to save and store your class notes so that you can find, share, and preserve them into the future.

Digital Notes Archiving Workflow

  1. Find: First you need to identify your content.
    • Gather all your notes, notebooks and digital files.
    • Don't forget to download any notes you took online or from your mobile devices and apps. Export your notes from note-taking software, like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Download any audio files you recorded on your smartphone.
    • Hand-written notes will need to be scanned if you want to preserve them. See Printing FAQ and Scanning FAQ for more detailed information.
  2. Organize: Next, Gather your files together: Use an easy to navigate directory structure and consistent file names.
    • Create a folder where you will keep all the class files. Here is an example.
    • Rename your files so they will have meaning to you in the future. Here is a tip: consider including year, course title, and Professor.
    • You might want to download a copy of the course syllabus which may be needed to transfer or get credit at another school, including graduate schools.
  3. Decide: Now that the files are in one place, it’s easy to decide what’s important and choose which files to archive and what to throw away.
    • Papers and other assignments come in many forms: will you keep all the drafts? only the final draft? what about the corrected version with notes from your instructor. Choose which are most important to keep and which you can throw away.
  4. Preserve: Make sure that you can access and use your notes in the future.
    • Use file formats that can be opened later. For example, save Microsoft files as easy-to-open PDFs.
    • Use safe storage that will persist over time like external hard drives, and store them in a safe place. Don't use storage that might go bad after a few years, like CDs or flash drives. Remember to back up your archive somewhere else, like a separate hard drive or cloud storage such as Google Docs or Dropbox.
    • Now you have a safe and useful archive for your notes. Learn more about saving and organizing other important “digital stuff” on the University of Minnesota Libraries website.