Say goodbye to cluttered & chaotic notes! Discover the best note-taking apps for academics and elevate your academic game
Fellow scholars, are you ready to say goodbye to the days of frantically searching through stacks of paper notes for that one crucial point? Are you tired of trying to decipher your own handwriting after a long lecture? Are you ready to upgrade your note-taking game and become a master of organization?
Look no further, because we’ve got the ultimate guide to finding the best note-taking app for academics. Say hello to streamlined, organized, and efficient note-taking, and goodbye to cluttered and chaotic notes. It’s time to take control of your academic journey and level up your note-taking game!
Why you can believe us? We have researched, refined, and rejected many ideas for this topic. For example, we have excluded some voice-to-text tools such as “VoiceNote II”. Reasons for exclusion range from usability issues to user experience.
Table of Contents
Key Types of Note-taking Apps
- All-in-One note-taking apps: apps that offer a wide range of features such as text, audio, image, and handwriting recognition, organization tools, and collaboration options, such as Evernote, OneNote, and Zoho.
- Digital Notebook apps: apps that emulate the traditional notebook experience, allowing you to write and draw notes using a stylus or your finger, such as Notability, GoodNotes, and OneNote.
- Simplistic note-taking apps: apps that focus on minimalism, providing a simple interface and core functionality for note-taking, such as Bear, Simplenote, and Joplin.
- Audio-centric note-taking apps: apps that are primarily focused on audio recording and note-taking, such as Otter, SoundNote, or GoTranscript if you want to oursource the work.
- Conceptual note-taking apps: apps that allow you to create diagrams, flowcharts, or visual notes to break down complex ideas and concepts, such as MindNode, XMind, and SimpleMind.
3 Best All-in-One Note-Taking Apps
Evernote – Organize Your Notes
Evernote is a user-friendly note-taking app that allows users to easily create, organize, and access notes, lists, and documents. It offers flexibility in note creation, and has a range of organizational tools, such as notebooks and tags.
The app also has a user-friendly interface and a search function that helps users quickly find the notes they need. Users can access the basic features for free, but a paid subscription is required for advanced features.
Availability: Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Web
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Note syncing across devices
- Ability to organize notes with tags and notebooks
- OCR (optical character recognition) for text in images
- Collaboration tools for shared notebooks
- Many integrations with other apps and services
- Free version has a monthly upload limit
- Some features, such as offline access and password-protected notes, are only available in the paid version
- Some users have reported stability issues with the app
- Evernote Basic (free) – 60 MB monthly upload limit
- Evernote Premium ($7.99/month or $69.99/year) – 10 GB monthly upload limit (Additional features such as offline access, password-protected notes, and customer support)
- Evernote Business ($14.99/user/month or $12.49/user/month with annual billing) – Same features as Premium, plus collaboration tools for teams
OneNote – Organize Your Thoughts, Discoveries, And Ideas
OneNote is a digital notebook application developed by Microsoft. It allows users to create and organize notes, drawings, audio notes, and files in a digital notebook.
OneNote features include the ability to organize notes into notebooks and sections, add tags for easy searching, insert and annotate images, and collaborate on notes with others. The user experience is designed to be intuitive and easy to use, with a simple interface and a variety of formatting options.
Availability: Available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, and can also be accessed via a web browser.
- Offers a wide range of formatting options for notes, including text, images, audio, and video
- Has a flexible note-taking format that allows users to organize notes in multiple ways, such as by notebook, section, or page
- It has built-in OCR (optical character recognition) that allows users to search for text within images
- Offers robust collaboration features, allowing users to share notes and work together on projects
- Some users may find the interface to be cluttered or overwhelming
- Some users may experience performance issues, particularly when working with large notebooks
- OneNote is available as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, which requires a subscription to Office 365
- The subscription starts at $69.99 per year for a Personal subscription which includes OneNote and other Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
- It’s also available as a free version with limited features
Zoho – Note Taking App – Add Text, Images, Audio, Checklist
Zoho is a suite of business and productivity apps that aims to provide a seamless user experience. The apps within the Zoho suite are designed to work together and share data, allowing users to easily move between them.
The interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate, with intuitive features and tools. The apps are also customizable, allowing users to tailor them to their specific needs and preferences. Overall, the user experience with Zoho is designed to be efficient, effective, and enjoyable.
Availability: Available on both iOS and Android.
- Zoho is a suite of business and productivity apps that work together seamlessly, allowing users to move between them easily
- The apps are designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate, with intuitive features and tools
- The apps are customizable, allowing users to tailor them to their specific needs and preferences
- It offers a wide range of applications which includes email hosting, project management, invoicing, and customer relationship management
- Zoho provides a free plan for most of its apps and a free trial for its paid plans
- Some users may find that certain apps within the Zoho suite lack certain features or functionalities compared to other standalone apps
- Some users may experience performance issues, particularly when working with large data sets
- Zoho offers a free plan for most of its apps, with limited features
- For paid plans, it starts from $8 per user per month
- The pricing varies based on the app, number of users, and the features you need
- They also offer a free trial for their paid plans, which allows users to test out the apps before committing to a subscription
3 Top Digital Notebook Apps For Students
Notability – Unleash Your Ideas, Your Way
Notability is an app designed to enhance the user’s note-taking experience. It allows users to create, edit, and organize notes using a variety of tools such as text, handwriting, audio recording, and image insertion. The app also offers syncing capabilities with cloud services such as iCloud and Google Drive, allowing users to access their notes from multiple devices.
Notability’s user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, making it a popular choice for students, professionals, and anyone in need of a powerful note-taking app. Overall, the app is designed to help users stay organized and productive.
Availability: Available for iPad, Mac, and iPhone.
- It allows users to take notes and annotate PDFs using a variety of tools, including typing, handwriting, highlighting, and drawing
- Supports audio recording and playback, making it useful for recording lectures and meetings
- Allows for easy organization and searching of notes, with the ability to create folders and tags
- Has a wide range of export options, including PDF, RTF, and PNG
- Allows us to share and collaborate with others
- Not available on Windows or Linux platforms
- May be difficult to use with a stylus other than Apple Pencil
- Some users have reported issues with the app crashing or freezing
- Costs $9.99 in the App Store and Google Play store
GoodNotes – Access Your Digital Notes Wherever You Work
GoodNotes is an app that provides a seamless and intuitive user experience for taking notes and annotating PDFs. It offers a variety of tools for typing, handwriting, highlighting, and drawing, as well as support for audio recording and playback. The app’s user interface is clean and easy to navigate, with options for organizing and searching notes through the use of folders and tags.
Additionally, GoodNotes allows users to easily import and export documents in a variety of formats, including PDF, RTF, and PNG. Overall, GoodNotes offers a comprehensive and efficient solution for note-taking and document annotation.
Availability: Available for iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
- User-friendly interface: Has a clean and intuitive interface that makes it easy to navigate and use
- Handwriting recognition: Can convert your handwriting to text, making it easy to search for notes and edit them later
- Customizable templates: Offers a variety of customizable templates that allow you to organize your notes and make them look professional
- Multitasking capabilities: Allows you to have multiple pages open at the same time
- Cloud syncing: Allowing you to access your notes from any device, as long as you are logged in
- A paid app and can be expensive for some users
- Limited free features: Some features, such as cloud syncing, are only available to paid users
- Occasional glitches: Some users have reported occasional glitches, such as the app crashing or notes not syncing properly
- GoodNotes app is available for $7.99 in the App Store, $7.99 in Google Play Store, and $7.99 in Microsoft Store
Google Keep – Free Note Taking App For Personal Use
Google Keep is a note-taking and task management app developed by Google. It allows users to create and organize notes, lists, and photos, set reminders, and collaborate with others on shared notes. The app has a simple and intuitive user interface, with a card-based design for notes and a color-coding system for organization.
Users can easily create new notes by typing or dictating, and can quickly access their existing notes through the app’s search function or by browsing through categories. Overall, Google Keep provides a streamlined and efficient experience for managing personal notes and tasks.
Availability: A PC- or Mac- based browser web application and is available on the Android mobile platform.
- A simple and easy-to-use app for taking notes and creating to-do lists
- Allows you to create different types of notes, including text, voice, and image notes
- It has a feature called “Reminders” that allows you to set reminders for specific notes
- Can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, as it is a cloud-based service
- Integrated with other Google apps such as Google Calendar and Google Docs, allowing for seamless organization and productivity
- It does not have as many advanced features as some other note-taking apps, such as Evernote
- It does not have a built-in feature for organizing notes into folders
- It does not support tables, making it less suitable for creating structured documents
- Google Keep is a free app and does not require a subscription. However, it does require a Google account to use
3 Simplistic Note-Taking Apps For Academics
Bear – Private Markdown Editor For iPhone, iPad And Mac
Bear is a note-taking app for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS that focuses on a clean, simple user experience. It allows users to quickly and easily create notes using a variety of formatting options, including headings, lists, and images. Notes can be organized into notebooks and tagged for easy searching.
The app also includes a variety of productivity features such as to-do lists and the ability to link apple notes together. Overall, Bear aims to provide a minimalistic and distraction-free way for users to capture and organize their thoughts and ideas.
Availability: Available on iPhone, iPad and Mac.
- Clean and simple user interface
- Variety of formatting options
- Organize notes into notebooks and tags for easy searching
- Productivity features like to-do lists and the ability to link notes together
- Limited platform availability (only available for Apple devices)
- Some advanced features require a paid subscription
- Limited collaboration features, not best suited for team work
- Bear App is a free download from the App Store, but it also has a subscription service called Bear Pro, which costs $1.49/month or $14.99/year
- Users can also unlock all the Bear Pro features via the one-time purchase of Bear Pro Power Pack, which is priced at $39.99
Simplenote – Simplest Way To Keep Notes
Simplenote is a minimalist note-taking app designed for ease of use and quick note-taking. It features a clean, uncluttered interface that allows users to easily create, edit, and organize notes.
The app also offers features such as tagging, version history, and cross-platform syncing, making it a great choice for users who want a simple and efficient note-taking experience.
Availability: Available on Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and MacOS devices.
- Minimalist and easy-to-use interface
- Fast note-taking and editing
- Tagging and organization options
- Cross-platform syncing
- Version history
- Available for multiple platforms
- Limited formatting options compared to other note-taking apps
- No support for images or other media
- No collaboration features
- Simplenote is a free app, with no in-app purchases or premium features
- Offers a paid service called Simplenote Premium, which includes features such as unlimited version history, additional organization options, and more
- The pricing for Simplenote Premium is $20 per year
Joplin – Capture Your Thoughts And Securely Access Them
Joplin is a free and open-source note-taking and to-do application that offers a clean and simple user interface. It allows users to create, edit, and organize notes and tasks, as well as sync them across multiple devices. Users can also organize notes in notebooks and tags, and can search through their notes with a full-text search feature.
Joplin also supports markdown formatting and includes a built-in web clipper for saving web pages as notes. Overall, Joplin aims to provide a streamlined and efficient note-taking experience for its users.
Availability: Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
- An open-source note-taking and to-do app that allows users to store and organize notes, tasks, and other information
- Available for multiple platforms including Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android
- Synchronize with various cloud services, such as Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, and WebDAV
- Supports markdown formatting and allows users to attach files and images to notes
- Has encryption support for added security
- It may not have as many features as some other note-taking apps
- It is not as widely used as other apps, so there may be less community support
- It has not been updated in recent time
- Joplin is completely free and open-source, it does not have any pricing
4 Apps that Turn Audio to Notes
SoundNote – Take Notes On Your iPad And Mac
SoundNote is a note-taking app that allows users to take notes while recording audio. The app syncs the notes with the audio recording, so users can go back and listen to the recording while reviewing their notes. The user interface is intuitive and easy to use, making it a great tool for students or professionals who want to take notes during lectures or meetings.
The app also allows for easy sharing and exporting of notes and recordings. Overall, SoundNote offers a seamless and efficient user experience for capturing and reviewing audio recordings and notes.
Availability: Available for Android, iOS and Windows.
- Synchronizes audio recordings with written notes in real-time
- Allows users to go back and listen to audio recordings while reviewing notes
- Has a simple and easy-to-use interface
- Provides a detailed tutorial for new users
- Has the ability to export notes as PDFs
- Only available for iOS devices
- Limited formatting options for notes
- Does not have cloud syncing capabilities
- SoundNote is a paid app and costs $4.99 to download on the App Store
GoTranscript – Best Human-Centric Transcription Services
If you are looking for someone to transcribe your recording, you may consider this option.
GoTranscript is the go-to resource for Ph.D. students and researchers seeking accurate, reliable transcription and translation services worldwide! We have also written GoTranscript as a transcription tool here.
With a team of highly skilled transcribers and translators ready to work around the clock, GoTranscript offers unbeatable speed in addition to generous discounts specially designed for businesses as well as student customers – making it an ideal choice no matter your needs or budget requirements!
- All human – with 20,000 staff, so the accuracy as it relates to understanding context is likely to be better than non-human ones
- Affordable prices – GoTranscript offers discounts for students and businesses, making their services more affordable for everyone.
- Quality services – GoTranscript has a team of experienced transcribers and translators dedicated to providing quality services.
- Variety of languages – GoTranscript offers transcription and translation services in a variety of languages, making them an excellent option for researchers and students who need translations into or from multiple languages.
- Customers cannot schedule video or phone check-ins with GoTranscript, nor can they receive a free live chat from their website.
- Few customers (<5%) have experienced delays with the fast delivery service; most are quite happy with the fast delivery
- Very few (1 out of the 3,000+ reviews) have issues with uploading speed.
Multiple factors affect the pricing, e.g., length, verbatim requirement, turnaround time, and the number of speakers.
- For a 60-minute recording, not full verbatim, in 5 days, with three and more speakers, no heavy accent, and no caption, the cost is $69 – about $1.15 per word. If you need a caption, the cost becomes $93 for the same 60 mins recording, or $1.55 per min.
- Assuming you have a recording with a strong accent, the cost jumps to $87 or $1.45 per min. If you need a caption, the cost becomes $111 for the same 60 mins recording, or $1.85 per min.
Otter – Voice Meeting Notes & Real-Time Transcription
Otter is the perfect companion for capturing and organizing audio/video recordings! Intuitive design makes it easy to take notes, search content and collaborate with others. With its AI-driven transcription capabilities in real time, Otter ensures that users don’t miss a beat – whether their conversations are personal or professional.
Reference: See our review on Otter.ai, along with other transcription tools.
The days of recording a voice, playing it back at home, and taking notes are long gone. Thousands of students have discovered the usefulness of Otter Voice Meeting Notes to help take notes during lectures, transcribe research interviews, capture thoughts from group study sessions
Availability: Available for Android and iOS and also via a web browser. Otter.ai is offering special deals to students and researchers. Grab it here.
- Real-time transcription and note-taking, allowing users to easily capture and organize important information from meetings, interviews, and other audio and video recordings
- Search and collaboration features that make it easy to find and share specific parts of recordings with others
- Can be integrated with other apps like Zoom and Slack
- Available on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and web
- Some users may find the transcription accuracy to be less than perfect, particularly in noisy environments or with heavy accents
- Some features are only available with a paid subscription
- Otter offers a free plan with 600 minutes of transcription per month, and access to basic features such as note-taking, searching and sharing recordings
- Otter Pro plan, which costs $9.99/month or $8.33/month with an annual subscription, gives you additional benefits like unlimited transcription, the ability to transcribe multiple languages, and the ability to export transcripts in multiple formats
- Otter for Teams is also available, which includes additional features like team collaboration and administrative controls
- The pricing for teams is customizable and depend on the number of team members, it starts from $12/user/month
Rev – Best-known Transcription Brand
Rev.com is a popular tool for transcribing interviews and audio data. Time stamps, speaker identification, and automatic punctuation are just a few of the great features Rev offers.
With the help of AI and humans, they are able to achieve 99% accuracy. One thing we like about it is that Rev doesn’t charge you more for 12-hour delivery, whether you have multiple speakers and no extra cost for strong accents. And it can offer you a strong price at $1.25 per minute.
Try it for free here.
You can also record and transcribe iPhone calls with Rev’s free iPhone call recorder. It is available for both incoming and outgoing calls. Excellent for phone interviews and meetings.
Bonus tips: You can check out Rev Transcription Library and see it for yourself.
- Accurate: High accuracy of ~99% using a combo of AI and human
- Fast: A transcript lands in your inbox within 12 hours after you upload an audio or video file.
- Professional: 60,000+ professionals at your service 24/7 with 99%+ accuracy guaranteed.
- Competitive Pricing: no extra for 12-hour delivery, multiple speakers, or strong accents
- Security and confidentiality agreements are in place
- The conversion of the qualitative research process can be slow, which can be frustrating when you need to work quickly.
- The cost can be prohibitive for some researchers.
- Each minute costs $1.25, so a 60-minute interview will cost $75.
- For “extra-fast” delivery, it costs $2.25 per minute. A 60-minute interview would cost $135.00 to have returned in 3 hours.
- It has a free 45-minute trial and $0.25 per minute afterward
3 Best Conceptual Note-Taking Apps For Students
MindNode – Mind Map & Brainstorm Ideas
MindNode is a mind mapping app that provides an intuitive and user-friendly experience for organizing and visualizing ideas and information. Users can create and customize mind maps with various nodes and connections, allowing them to easily see connections and relationships between different pieces of information.
The app also includes features such as the ability to add images, notes, and links, as well as the ability to export and share maps with others. Overall, MindNode is designed to help users effectively brainstorm and organize their thoughts and ideas.
Availability: Available on Mac & iOS.
- Intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to create and organize mind maps
- Provides a wide range of formatting options, including different node shapes, colors, and styles
- Allows for easy collaboration and sharing of mind maps with others
- Offers seamless integration with other apps, such as Evernote and Omnifocus
- Some users have reported stability issues with the app
- Limited free version with in-app purchases to unlock all features
- Some users have reported that the app can be slow to respond at times
- MindNode offers a free version with limited functionality
- The full version can be purchased for $14.99 on the Mac App Store, $9.99 on the iOS App Store and $9.99 on the iPadOS App Store
XMind – Your Favorite Mind Mapping Tool
XMind is a mind mapping and brainstorming software that allows users to visually organize their ideas and information in a hierarchical structure. It features a user-friendly interface and a variety of tools for creating diagrams, flowcharts, and concept maps.
Users can easily add text, images, and multimedia to their diagrams, as well as customize the appearance of their diagrams with different themes and formatting options. Additionally, XMind offers a range of collaboration and sharing features, making it easy for users to work on diagrams together and share their ideas with others.
Overall, XMind provides a powerful and intuitive tool for organizing and communicating ideas.
Availability: Available on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
- User-friendly interface that is easy to navigate
- Powerful brainstorming and mind mapping features
- Built-in templates and themes to help users get started quickly
- Ability to collaborate with others in real-time and share maps
- May not be as feature-rich as some other mind mapping software
- Some users have reported stability issues with the app
- Some advanced features are only available in the paid version
- Limited compatibility with other mind mapping software
- Limited export options
- Free plan with monthly subscription of $5.99 and yearly subscription of $59.99
SimpleMind – Organize Your Thoughts
SimpleMind is a mind mapping app that allows users to visually organize their thoughts and ideas. It has a user-friendly interface, making it easy to create and edit mind maps. The app allows users to add text, images, and links to their maps, as well as customize the layout and colors.
Users can also collaborate on maps in real-time and share them with others. Overall, SimpleMind provides a streamlined and efficient way to brainstorm and organize ideas.
Availability: Available for iOS, Windows, Mac and Android.
- A mind mapping tool that allows users to visually organize their ideas and thoughts
- The app is available for multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac
- The app offers a variety of formatting options and the ability to add images and multimedia to mind maps
- Users can also collaborate on mind maps in real-time with other SimpleMind users
- The app offers a free version with basic features as well as a pro version with additional functionality
- Some users have reported bugs and issues with the app’s functionality
- The pro version of the app can be relatively expensive compared to other mind mapping tools
- Some users have reported that the app can be difficult to navigate and use at first
- iOS: The app is available for a one-time purchase of $14.99 for the Pro version and $4.99 for the basic version
- Android: The app is available as a free version with in-app purchases or a one-time purchase of $14.99 for the Pro version
- Windows and Mac: The app is available for a one-time purchase of $49 for the Pro version and $29 for the basic version
Note-Taking App Features to Look For
When looking for the note-taking apps for academics, there are a few key features to consider:
- Organization: Look for an app that allows you to easily categorize, tag, and group your notes, as well as search for specific notes or keywords.
- Collaboration: If you’ll be working on group projects or assignments, look for an app that allows you to share and collaborate on notes with classmates or colleagues.
- Handwriting recognition: Research suggests that taking notes by hand can lead to better retention and comprehension of information. Some note-taking apps offer the ability to write notes by hand and convert them to text.
- Cross-device syncing: An app that allows you to access your notes from multiple devices, such as your computer, tablet, and phone, can be very helpful.
- Automatic backup: Look for an app that automatically backs up your notes to the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing your notes if your device is lost or damaged.
- Audio recording: Some apps offer the ability to record lectures and syncing them with the notes taken, which can be very useful in case you missed something during the lecture.
- Highlighting and annotation tools: Look for an app that offers tools like highlighting, underlining, and commenting, which can help you better analyze and understand the information you’re studying.
- Integrations: Look for an app that can integrate with other tools you use such as calendar, to-do list, and other productivity apps.
Benefits of Note-Taking Apps
- Increased organization: A note-taking app allows you to easily organize and categorize your notes, making it easier to find and reference specific information.
- Improved collaboration: Many note-taking apps offer the ability to share and collaborate on notes with classmates or colleagues, making it easier to work together on projects and assignments.
- Enhanced productivity: According to a study by the University of California, using a note-taking app can increase productivity by up to 20%.
- Better retention: Research shows that taking notes by hand can lead to better retention and comprehension of information, as opposed to typing. Some note-taking apps offer the ability to write notes by hand and convert them to text.
- Convenience: With a note-taking app, you can access your notes from anywhere, whether you’re on your computer, tablet, or phone.
- Automatic backup: Many note-taking apps automatically backup your notes to the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing your notes if your device is lost or damaged.
- Better searchability: Most of the note-taking apps comes with built-in search functionality, making it easy to find specific notes or keywords in your notes.
In conclusion, there are many great note-taking apps available for academics.
Whether you’re looking for an all-in-one app with a variety of tools, a digital notebook experience, a simple and minimalistic approach, voice to note features, or a way to visually organize complex concepts, there is an app on this list that will meet your needs.
We would love to hear about your experience with these apps. Have you found success with any of the options on this list? Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the cut but deserve a shout-out? Share your thoughts in the comments below and help fellow academics discover their next go-to note-taking app.