Friday, March 11, 2005


OK, so that is probably not the most accurate title for this post, but it will have to do.

I wanted to talk about how I use my Tablet to take sermon notes. I think it is pretty slick and if it doesn't work for you, maybe it will at least give you some fodder for your own thinking.

I use two applications primarily when I am sitting in the pew: OneNote and e-Sword.

If you aren't yet familiar with OneNote, it is a Microsoft Office application that is a wonderful note organizer. You can see it in action here. You can even download a 30 day demo from the site here. Now frankly, the ink in OneNote leaves a lot to be desired. Other note-taking applications are a whole lot better in this regard. Still, I love the way OneNote handles organization. The filing metaphor works well for me and it is wonderful to not have to save files. OneNote saves everything on the fly.

I have created a folder called Church, with sub-folders under it. Originally I had one called Sermons and kept my notes there, but with over a year's worth of notes, I decided to reorganize and create sub-folders under Sermons for each year. In each of these folders, I create a new note for each week and take my notes there. (I should probably give some more detail here, but for now, be aware that folder management in OneNote is a whole 'nother thing than Windows folder management--and worlds easier.)

My preference is to title my note with the date and the name of the speaker. We currently have a few men who are rotating speaking so this works really well. In the assembly where I spent my early years as a Christian, this would be a good technique, too. We will have a new pastor starting soon, so he'll be doing most of the speaking. I guess I'll have to modify this a bit...

The rest of it is just plain note-taking, with one cool exception I'll get to in my next post. (Remember I said I used e-Sword, too?)

Not only does this give me good notes on the sermon, but it lets me carry all of my previous notes with me for reference. This is especially helpful when a topic is carried over between sermons. It is trivial to pop up the notes from the previous week for review or reference.

Also, have you ever had one of those, "I remember someone said ... sometime ... somewhere" moments but you can't for the life of you remember who or when and you certainly can't lay your hands on details about it? Well, OneNote supports searching your hand-written notes so you can pretty reliably find out who, what, when, where, and maybe even why. This has helped me on several occasions to recall something more than just some vague recollection. A quick search on a likely term and all the details are there.

I used to carry a notepad, several pens and pencils (just in case), and a NAS Study Bible with me each Sunday. Plus other things I'll get around to talking about in the future. No more. With e-Sword as my pew Bible and OneNote as my notepad, I've shaved a pound or two and several inches off what I carry with me each Sunday. (My Tablet in its case is thinner than my Bible alone and no bigger in the other dimensions.) Plus, I can carry all of my previous notes and even search them. Quite the pleasant upgrade...

But wait, there's more. Next time.


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