5 Best Apps for Taking Notes While Reading

When reading, do you ever feel the urge to take notes? And do you write them with traditional pen and paper, or do you default to using an app? If you do, what are the best apps for taking notes while reading?

Life has changed substantially in how we do things as more and more processes move online. We read, watch movies, listen to music and work in an online world.

With this shift of everyone working in their own space and linked through technology, there has to be a way to take notes quickly and easily especially when reading. Sometimes, handwritten notes may not be as effective as text notes on your smart device or computer.

Whether it is a paper copy or e-book, a good note-taking app is helpful. While books usually need effective notes in order to absorb the material.

As a reader, you may just want to list a few words, a reminder, a quote, or even a picture while perusing a book. Taking notes, the old school way with pen and paper is ok but the reality is that handy apps can do it more efficiently and with a thoroughness that old ways won’t cover.

There are lots of apps available for both iOS and Android, but which are the best apps for taking notes when you’re reading.

Best apps for taking notes while reading

1. Evernote

Evernote graphical user interface
Scanning and digitizing are also doable with Evernote

Evernote is one of the best note-taking apps available. It can be used to gather a large amount of information and has great organizational features as well.

You can vary formats and include text, pictures, graphics, audio, and more. These items can then be put into a virtual notebook so they can then be managed with various tools.

The user can use tags and shortcuts to make things simple. There is almost nothing that can’t be added to the notes. They are even shareable once in the app.

Scanning and digitizing are also doable. While this seems like a lot of detail for book reading, it’s actually great to read books with a lot of detail, such as textbooks or work material.

The bonus with Evernote is that is automatically synchronized across devices, meaning it is accessible almost anywhere for when you need it.

Read our guide: What Is Evernote?

2. OneNote

One Note
Customization is easy using tags, labels, highlighting, and written annotation as well

OneNote is great and is considered one of the best. It has lots of features and is easy to use.

It can take care of noting everything you might need when reading. The user can type, write with a stylus, highlight, or take a picture of a passage.

The app uses a virtual notebook, so content can be organized by book or whatever other categories you may want. It even allows the user to have color-coded parts as you would in a three-ring binder.

The search feature is useful in finding notes quickly. Customization is easy using tags, labels, highlighting, and written annotation as well. As this is a Microsoft product and integrated with Office, it can meld with other Microsoft products.

Read our Evernote VS OneNote comparison

3. Dropbox Paper

Dropbox dashboard
A collaborative note-taking app

Dropbox Paper is a perfect note-taking app when you want to do something collaboratively, such as an online book club or a department discussion. It is an app where more than one person can add and edit content and talk through themes, go over thoughts about content, and brainstorm ideas about the book.

People can be online at different times, add their thoughts, or create a folder to contribute their ideas and interpretations. Dropbox Paper allows work with almost any type of content, so scans and notes can be used. It integrates with Dropbox’s cloud storage as well.

4. Simplenote

Simplenote make things efficient and speedy while you read through a book

What could be easier to use than an app called Simplenote? It offers all the basic things a user would need—notes, lists, thoughts, and ideas all in one place.

The target of Simplenote is to make things efficient and speedy while you read through a book. Open the app, type whatever you need to note, and then it is complete.

Create, edit, and then tag or pin each note for maximum organization. The highlight of Simplenote is its speed both in taking notes and searching what is already there.

Its searches pick up entries that are relevant as the search string is typed in. The app is simple once the user is signed up for their free account.

This is also helpful as the account allows data to be backed up to the cloud. The app synchronizes notes across devices, and they can be accessed from any device that has the app, which is great if you are using an e-reader on the same platform.

It’s a simple app but its ability to allow sharing and collaboration is pretty much spot on.

5. Apple Notes

Note-Taking Apps for Writers

This is a good app for anyone with an Apple device, be it an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Apple specifically designed it for Apple users.

It runs on iOS and can take care of any notetaking needs that are required. Apple Notes lets the user create notes in long-form, lists, or short-form reminder notes.

All that needs to happen is the user taps on the icon for a New Note, and then whatever has to be entered can be done. Siri can be used to add a new note simply by dictating the required content.

This is great because you can read and take hands-free notes. Because notes are kept in iCloud, they are available on any iOS device that the user is logged into and has iCloud access.

Apple Notes allows the user to do gesture writing using brush styles and different shades and colors. This is great if there is no stylus or the reader wants to do some freestyle documenting.

An Apple Pencil can help with gesture writing, as well. As with any Apple product, the content once uploaded can be saved and secured with either a password/code or fingerprint.

Our Testing Criteria

We tested apps over the course of several months using a Mac, iPad, iPhone and the web. When evaluating these apps, we considered the needs of someone who takes notes regularly and needs to find them easily i.e. a researcher or a writer.

The Final Word on the Best Apps for Taking Notes While Reading

Finding ways to make note-taking easier begins with finding apps to help with efficiency and connectedness. So much of our personal and work world is now online and that includes our reading.

Notetaking apps are a great help. A little bit of research, and you’ll soon choose the best apps for taking notes while you read.

Want more check out our guide to the best writing apps.

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