Scanning handwritten notes

I’ve tried taking notes on the iPad Pro using an Apple Pencil, but for me, it’s just not as efficient as old-fashioned pen and paper. I generally take notes on a Field Notes Steno Book, tear out the relevant sheets and use a paper cutter to trim off the ragged top edge, and file them away.

This thread has got me thinking about scanning my handwritten notes and filing them electronically. I doubt my handwriting is good enough to OCR, but it seems like good filenames and maybe a few tags should be enough to find what I’m looking for, even if the scanned file is just a picture of my handwritten notes.

Has anyone tried something like this? How has it worked for you?


yI have about 3000 pages of handwritten notes scanned, broken into separate files (all PDF) based on existing indexes. They are all coded with corresponding records in FileMaker, based on paragraph-level codes in the margins. (I’m a cultural anthropologist and was living without electricity at the time, for +/- 21 months in all.)

I probably wouldn’t have done it except I had some grant money and hired a grad student to do the actual scanning. But having done so, it is incredibly useful for me — I have been revisiting and recoding (more precisely) some of this material, and writing up several rounds of follow-up research with the same folks, and it’s incredibly helpful to have all this material on my laptop and iPad.


Obviously there’s reasons to not use Evernote, but there is good support for taking in handwritten notes and organizing! I’d discounted Evernote completely (I use Bear) until I heard this podcast episode by @craigmcclellan and Robby Burns. I’m probably not switching, but I certainly learned some great functionality I didn’t know was there.

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That sounds awesome!
I ripped some pages from an old notepad today and scanned them at school. It just didn’t seem right to just throw them away.
Yours, on the other hand, is at a whole other level.

Glad you enjoyed the episode! Though I’m sticking with Bear myself, I totally get why Robby uses Evernote.

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Same. I’m not switching from Bear, even if Notebooks could benefit my organization system. But it made me realize how ignorant I have been of Evernote in the past!

I’d like to revive this thread… I usually use GoodNotes for note-taking and use the excellent converting tool to get typewriting (Is this the opposite of handwriting? :thinking:) and it works remarkably well - despite my horrendous handwriting! Yesterday though, I took notes with pen and paper and while I realize that I could just take a photo and Notes would be able to search it, I would prefer a way where I could somehow convert my handwritten notes into typewritten ones. Any ideas on how to do that?

For many years, at my last job, I would routinely take photographs of post-it notes, whiteboards, etc. and upload them to Evernote. After a round-trip to the mothership everything was searchable. You can do the same using Google Drive (& Google Photos).

Today I normally carry a few 3x5 cards for note taking and use ScannerPro to upload to GD.

I scan handwritten notes multiple times per day. I use Scannable, which is an Evernote product, and scan right into Evernote. I use a legal pad for meeting notes and I have a sheet or two where I keep misc notes during the day. They all get scanned in and then the paper tossed.

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