Book Review: Evernote for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Evernote in 24 Hours

Evernote for Beginner's: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Evernote in 24 hours or less! by Michael Hastings cover.
by Michael Hastings

Full Title: Evernote for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Evernote in 24 Hours
Author: Michael Hastings
Publisher: Self-published via Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Publish Date: October 27, 2014
Pages if printed: 18
Format: Kindle only (can be read via Kindle Cloud Reader); Free via KindleUnlimited.
How Obtained: Free download Kindle
How Read: on Kindle Fire HDX (3rd generation)

Quick Review for the Genealogist:

Book Aimed for: Beginner ~ Intermediate ~ Advanced
Book Meant for Genealogy: No
Did I Learn Something I Did Not Know? Yes, although I doubt I’ll ever sing into my Evernote.
Did the Book Feel Like a “Cut & Paste”? No
Did the Book Have Errors? Yes
~ Typos? No ~ Evernote Errors: Yes
Did the book have grammatical errors? No
Did the book have in-depth information? Yes
Did the book have examples or illustrations? No
Did the book have links to other sites or information? Yes, one link.
Did the book have clearly labeled TIPS? No
Do I recommend this book for genealogy researchers who use or might use Evernote? No

Overall Rating:1.5 stars.

Book Synopsis & Reason for Rating:

Lets (stet) begin… It’s time to organize your life! Learn how to master Evernote in 24 hours or less! Evernote is so simple to use once you become educated and it will assist you in all aspects of life! Take the step and finally learn how to master Evernote! …

The title alone makes claims that are difficult if not impossible to achieve in only 18 pages – “the ULTIMATE Guide to MASTERING Evernote”.  Actually, it all comes down to what Mr. Hastings defines as a beginner & what he really thinks you the reader will be willing to accept as MASTERING Evernote. Plus what can be achieved in 24 hours.


In the second paragraph he states this book will show “you how to become an expert in the use of Evernote in just a couple of hours.” I am very dubious about the word EXPERT. I hate it when people introduce me as an “expert” on something. The expectation is set high with that word. And to me an EXPERT ON EVERNOTE knows everything about it. That is going to get done in “a couple of hours” and in 18 pages?? However, a plus — chapters with numbers!

Chapter 1: Do you know what Evernote is?

“Well, it is an application that seems to insinuate ever noting something down.”

Ever noting something down. What in the heck does that mean? For me, it’s like the author tried to come up with something new to define Evernote. And … ouch! Failed. He was trying to be clever with the words ever and note. It doesn’t work.

[box type=”info”]Next bolded section (& from here on – if it is bolded phrase or sentence under a chapter, it’s a bolded section in the book). [/box]

So, what are those things that Evernote can record and secure?

Are you noticing the author is writing like he’s having a one-on-one conversation with you? The problem is – he has 18 pages to make you an expert. He wants you to feel comfortable. But maybe your comfort level is one of ‘WHERE’S THE BEEF?’ if you remember that old TV commercial.

Well, the “beef” is buried. Not bolded and was put as the last sentence in a paragraph — “what do we call those written items and their folder equivalent?”

In bullet format he gives three good examples of a NOTE. But follows it with a fourth bullet for NOTEBOOK. It would work better had he bolded the words note and notebook as well as italicized so they pop out at the reader.

Why the name Evernote for the application? Frankly, this is a waste of precious space in an 18 page ‘book’. Do we care? No.

And how does Evernote operate? The meat in this two paragraph section is that Evernote automatically saves your work. No CTRL-S, etc. Again – he’s got 18 pages to make you an expert. It seems to me that this could have been done in one sentence. Also the verb operate has a much wider meaning. How about How do you save in Evernote? You don’t, Evernote automatically saves for you.

And where does Evernote save the items?  He may think it is clear when he says that Evernote “actually synchronizes your notes via the web.” BUT a true beginner – especially a non-techy beginner – will read right through those words and not understand them. The words, “the items”, could be confusing to some beginners.

What is that function that makes Evernote so popular? “Listen to this: You can access your Evernote items from any of your gadgets…” Perhaps DEVICES when have been a better word than gadgets.

Chapter 2: How to Install Evernote in Seconds

Eighteen page limit and he wastes a full paragraph making you feel good that you are going to download this from the web. He DOES give you the link. A full [Kindle] page is devoted to a make-you-feel-good installation of Evernote. Why not provide the link to the Evernote installation page and tell them to follow the directions? He does not mention there are different downloads depending on your “gadget”. Personally I think he would have been better to provide the Evernote installation link and a sentence or two on making sure you got the right download for the right device.

How to begin working with Evernote – Okay, Mr. Hastings assumes you know NOTHING about having to register for an account (even though you had to get the book from Amazon via an account) and goes into some detail about how to do to. I do commend him for using bullets instead of long paragraphs for the instructions.

Chapter 3: Write Notes and Secure Them Faster Than Ever

The title of the chapter CHANGES from “Write Notes…” to “Create Notes…”.
Take note authors. Your chapter titles IN the book should MATCH the ones in your Table of Contents.

Why does this author waste space telling the “beginner” things that don’t matter all that much. LIKE…how much faster Evernote is than “familiar Word processors.” Again – who cares. And it’s a bad comparison. What a word processor must be able to do is far more than the text area of Evernote. And really the part that is “fast” (which he iterates again in this chapter) is not having to Save as Evernote does it for you.

His instructions are okay although for his example he has “you are planning to create your CV”…, CV? Better to use a word that is common to MANY people. I did figure it out though – it means curriculum vitae – which is used in academia.

This section is numerical:
1) Creating a piece of text
2) How to create a note with an image
3) Creating a note that relates to some piece of music

Why don’t authors warn beginners about copying a picture off the Internet into Evernote? Just because people “do it all the time” doesn’t wave their responsibility to give a quick heads up on copyright issues.

Error: At least I think it is an error. I tried this on my Windows laptop with both Firefox & Chrome browsers and it did not work. In section #2, How to create a note with an image, the author an instruction to highlight a picture on the web, then check at the top area of your page and you will see a button indicating Evernote. Click to open .. & drag the highlighted picture into it.”

The “top area of your page” reads as if it is a WEB page. But there is no Evernote button on every web page. Nor is there an Evernote button that appears on your browser just because you have downloaded an installed it. I even tried to pull an image into my Evernote button in my task bar.

I do believe the author can do this but it appears an ASSUMPTION has been made that every it running the same system he is set up the same way.

In this same section another…
Error: The instruction on how to get Web Clipper (again, no bolding & somewhat buried) states to “Go back and look at your Evernote application.” All depending on how the beginner thinks of it but the book STARTS with the INSTALLATION of Evernote. And if one opens the Evernote application on their PC, there is NO “Products” link. [My tip is you need to Click on View and then Market.]

I believe he means for the reader to go to the Evernote HOME page where a Products link is clearly shown. Beginners need CLEAR instructions. He seems to want to make you comfortable with his one-on-one conversational writing but then ASSUMES (there’s that word again) that you understand what he MEANT.

His explanation of using Web Clipper is weak as he limits it to a “highlight” and “drag” operation. Nor does he make clear that this is a BROWSER add-on. AND the product is called Evernote Web Clipper not just Web Clipper.

Chapter 4: The Fastest Way to Organize Your Data

A plus to the author for using “list” format by why switch from numbers to letters??? Consistency.

a) Create relevant notebooks
b) Create stacks

Whether this is “the fastest way to organize your data”, the instructions here work. By now, I’ve figured out the writer is British (the example in Chapter 3, #2-note w/image used the word “Mum”. And in this section he is using “going on holiday” as an example. We American’s go on vacation. But this chapter descriptions works quite well.

Chapter 5: Access Your Stuff in a Flash from Any Corner of the World

Again – 18 pages total and two paragraphs are given to providing the reader an example of why you might want to be able to do this.

How to Access Data from another Gadget

(Note: I’m beginning to think that “gadget” is the British common word for “device”.)
Probably two of the BEST sentences in the whole book begin this section. A clear explanation about WHERE Evernote stores your notes. Remember, he supposedly has already given us the answer in Chapter 1. These sentences are clear & well stated.

What happens when you amend some data on Evernote? A paragraph on how synchronization makes this possible without getting into the nitty-gritty details of how it works. All you will know after reading this is you can.

Can I send my Evernote data to someone else? This is a good question & rarely touched on in beginner books. The ability is a big plus for genealogy Evernote users. BUT Error! He doesn’t give you a CLUE how to do it. Why put it in your book if you aren’t going to tell the reader how to SHARE.

Celebrities Who Revel in the Convenience of Evernote – A paragraph on each person’s use of Evernote.

Mark Yaeger – the composer for the movie Gladiator & other films.
Richard Branson – billionaire, multiple businesses.

Different. Interesting. But does this add to you the reader MASTERING Evernote?

Conclusion – The thank-you & good-luck plus leave-a-review page.  This is ONE of the 18 pages.

What MAJOR Evernote Facts Were Missing?

  1. Tags! Critical beginner info. Far more important that two celebrities uses of Evernote.
  2. What version? He states once that you can get a free Evernote account but provides no other information.
  3. Limits – No need in a beginner book to get into the exact limits but one sentence would advise the reader that there is not unlimited storage, notes, notebooks, etc.
  4. Search – A huge plus in Evernote and not one word is said about it.
  5. Synchronize – While he uses the term in the book, it is never explained yet space is given to other things not nearly as important as what this means.

Do I recommend the book to my genealogy friends? to anyone?

No. Multiple reasons. The multiple errors. No illustrations, pictures or diagrams are a weakness. The Web Clipper explanation, an add-on I personally consider a MUST-HAVE, is exceptionally weak. Asking a question about sending your Evernote data to someone else – and then not answering it. The ULTIMATE guide … I don’t think so.

No. I can’t recommend this book.

[box type=”bio”]Note from the Reviewer: I did not receive a request to review this book nor was I paid in any form. A full review is provided as well as specific questions for those interested in genealogy. [/box]