Research. It’s the life blood of any writer. No matter what you’re doing – journalism, blogging, penning fiction, or doing any kind of technical or corporate writing – you need to gather facts and information.
Of course, the nature of research has morphed since I went pro all those many years ago. I remember spending a lot of time in the library or on the phone digging up information. Then, the Internet came to our computers and changed the game.
In the early days, researching on the web involved either copying and pasting information into a text editor or word processor file, or jotting notes on to paper. Thanks to web-based note taking applications like Evernote, that became a whole lot easier.
But copying and pasting information into Evernote isn’t the most efficient way to do things. Why not let your browser and Evernote work together? You can do that with two browser extensions for Evernote called Web Clipper and Clearly.
Let’s take a closer look at them and how they can be a useful addition to the tool kit of any writer, technical or otherwise.
Evernote Web Clipper does just what it says: it clips information from a web page and saves it to your Evernote account.
All you need to do is install it and you’re literally a mouse click away from saving useful or interesting information that you find on the web.
When you install Web Clipper, it adds an icon to your browser’s tool bar. Here’s what it looks like in Chrome:
When you’re on a web page containing information that you want to save, just click the icon. After a second or so, a small window opens.
Here, you can do a number of things like:
- Choose the Evernote notebook in which you want to save the page.
- Add tags or comments to the note. Tags make it easier to find notes in Evernote, and you can use comments to note where you found the information.
- Choose whether you want to clip the article, the entire page, or just the URL.
When you choose to clip the ariticle, Web Clipper only copies the text and any graphics in the main portion of the page. Choosing to grab the entire page … well, grabs everything. Cruft and all.
I have two minor beefs with Web Clipper. The first is that it sometimes doesn’t give you every option for grabbing content. Sometimes, you can only grab a URL or the entire page. Sometimes, everything. Not a big deal, I admit, but sometimes that can be frustrating. The second is that it’s all or nothing – you can’t just grab a selection from an article or web page.
Remember when I mentioned that you can grab full web pages, cruft and all, with Web Clipper? I don’t know about you, but often that cruft annoys me. And not just when I’m clipping information to Evernote.
All of those additional page elements – like graphics and ads – are distracting. They can slow my reading down. Especially when I’m reading on my Chromebook, my smartphone, or my media player. Which is why the folks at Evernote came up with Clearly. Clearly …
… makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read
Like Web Clipper, when you install Clearly you get an icon on your tool bar which looks like this:
Click the icon and Clearly creates a version of the page with only the text of the page and any graphics. All the cruft is removed.
That’s a lot easier to read, wouldn’t you say?
Combining Clearly with Web Clipper
Clearly comes with its own clipping tool. I don’t like it all that much – it only saves the content to Evernote. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I prefer to be able to choose the destination notebook and to add tags or comments before I save a clip.
Guess what? You can use Web Clipper with Clearly. They make a powerful pair. Just give a Web page or article or blog post the Clearly treatment, then click the Web Clipper icon. Choose your options, and save the clip.
You get the best of both worlds – the ease of reading of Clearly and the flexibility of Web Clipper. And all it takes is a couple of clicks and a few keystrokes.
I’ve been using Clearly and Web Clipper together since Clearly made it’s appearance a few months back. It’s made reviewing information on my mobile devices, and reading on both those devices and my laptops, a lot easier.
The ability to add tags and comments is useful, too. Tags I’ve mentioned before. With comments, I’ve gone beyond using them just to note where I found some useful text. I’ve also started using comments to pinpoint where in an article or post the information I’ve dug up should go, or to note a paragraph containing something worth using.
Do you use Clearly and Web Clipper? How are you using them? Share your ideas by leaving a comment.