Evernote gets more style

Posted by Phil Libin on 21 Apr 2010

Posted by Phil Libin on 21 Apr 2010

Sorry, that headline is a bit of a geek joke. Let’s start again.

Something that many people have been asking for is better text editing, clipping and cut-and-paste support in Evernote. One of the issues was the way notes were stored in Evernote; basically we converted the note structure into something very similar to HTML 1.0. This guaranteed consistent performance across multiple devices but at the cost of making everything look like a web page from 1997. Last week, we fixed that through a coordinated upgrade to our back-end servers as well as our Windows, Web and Mac versions.

You’ll see the difference in the latest Windows (v3.5.3) and Mac (v1.8.1) versions. Editing notes feels more natural and you have better control over fonts, colors and alignment. Cutting and pasting from another program to Evernote works better and, in most cases, clipped pages keep more of their formatting: they retain their fonts, columns, and more precise page layout.

Sometimes this isn’t exactly what you want, so we’ve also added a “Simplify formatting” option under the Format menu in our desktop versions, which removes all that new-fangled web stuff and leaves you with a simplified document that may be easier to edit in more places, including on mobile devices. Here are a couple of examples showing the new looks.

Copy and paste with styles

As you can see, Evernote did a pretty good job of getting the fonts and colors. If you look extra close, you’ll notice that a couple of the fonts didn’t make it over. This can happen. Things aren’t perfect yet, but we’re getting there.

Before and after: Web clipping

Here, the clip went from unstructured text, to multiple columns with images, fonts and styles almost identical to the original webpage. Here’s a link to the original for comparison.

A few notes on web clipping

Web clipping results may vary depending on a number of things, including the site you’re clipping from, your browser, operating system, and other factors. The Evernote Web Clipper you use also plays a role in determining the quality of the clip. For the time being, the Firefox add-on and the Clip to Evernote bookmarklet are the only clipping options that do not benefit from all the new features. If you use either of these methods, then your clips will look slightly better than they did before. Those using the recently updated Chrome Extension, will see improved results.

Evernote does not store everything that you see on a web page in your note. For example, we still strip out Javascript because it would be a pretty bad idea to let web pages stick random executable code into your permanent memory. We also don’t capture videos, flash and framed content.

As a rule of thumb, to get the best clipping performance you should select just the section of a web page that you care about before you clip. This avoids having to deal with the margins, ads, navigation, and other stuff that clutters up your clip. If, on the other had, you want to capture exactly what a web page looks like, try clipping the page as a PDF (on Mac, Shift+Click on the Safari Clipper button or “Print to Evernote” in any Mac browser) or a screen shot (Mac or Windows). Remember that both options be searchable thanks to our image recognition technology.

How will this look on mobile devices?

Mobile devices are covered, as well; all existing mobile versions of Evernote are able to display the new note formats (to the best of their hardware’s abilities, of course). We snuck that in a while ago in preparation for this release.

More to come

As exciting as this upgrade is, its only the first step. Today, you’ll find that it’s easier to create nice looking notes whether you write them yourself or grab them from the web, email, paste them from other applications. Now that we’ve fundamentally improved Evernote’s underlying note structure, we’ll be able to add a host of new features like highlighting, annotation, templates, better tables and lists, and more formatting options. We’ll be busy for a while…


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95 Comments RSS

  • ChrisInKW

    This is some excellent work. It’s good to see you’ve been taking user feedback to heart. Kudos.

  • Freddy

    Just tried to update my Windows Evernote says no updates available.

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Freddy, you’re probably up to date. These new capabilities were part of last week’s desktop updates.

      • John Tobin

        Actually, I just ran a check updates and it told me I was up to date. You indicate in your post that 3.5.1 is the latest Windows version – I’m on version 3.1.0 – so I guess I’ve not been getting updates for a while now. Seems odd?

        • Andrew Sinkov

          John, Evernote 3.5 is a completely new version of Evernote. To get Evernote 3.5, go to:

      • John Tobin

        I see now you have to be on the 3.5x version to get the updates – I was on 3.1 and it doesn’t suggest updates to 3.5x.

  • Sumocat

    “Sorry, that headline is a bit of a geek joke.” — Yes, emphasis on *bit*. I think you should have gone further with it.

    Evernote gets hip to today’s style

    The latest style now in Evernote

    We have style, we have grace, Evernote gives good face
    (Sorry, I caught the Vogue video redo on Glee last night.)

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Love it. Thanks.

  • 10gallonhat

    Still sad that I can’t use 3.5 (including this latest update) with Win7 Pro 32bit. Looking forward to a fix (please, please, please).

  • Ed

    The new clipper in Evernote for Mac does a much better job of rendering web pages correctly.

    However, something needs to be done to improve output when printing those clips. Evernote needs to insert page breaks so printing will be accurate.

  • JLC

    You guys are the BEST!!!! Because of the communication from your team right through to your CEO, Evernote is the one application I have the most confidence in and use the most. Can’t wait for the future and I have confidence that you are working on it. Thanks guys!

  • phil

    Best new feature ever! I’m looking forward to templates.. 🙂

    • Andy

      Yes. Templates please!!!!!

  • jyrus

    Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Rob Parnell

    Definitely noticed – impressive just being able to pick different fonts. Plus, multi-level indented lists, and all the keyboard combinations – coming alive.

    Just one question. Is there a key combination for “highlight?” If you have it – in yellow? Or even “pick a font” black text with yellow background, is good enough for me.

    Great Job & Thank you.

  • Wes

    I wish I was looking forward to plain text notes 😉

  • alimbada

    I wonder if this version fixes the problems with bulleted lists…

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Bulleted lists should be a more predictable, but you may still encounter some issues. For example, there are some known problems with copying and pasting bulleted lists from Word.

  • Bob Spryn

    Oh lord don’t encourage pasting from a Microsoft App! 🙂

    The formatting on those things are just hideous!

    I suppose it really doesn’t matter. But people would be better off not doing that for re-use (further copy and pasting) later.

  • Daniel

    Hoping to see some basic formatting options available in the text editor on the iPhone soon 🙂 It displays edited content fantastically, though!

  • Josh Jones

    Huge user of Evernote on Mac desktop, MacBook Pro, iPhone, and now iPad. When might we hope to see bullets as an option on iPhone or at least iPad?

    Soon? maybe
    Never? 🙁

    We await your answer.

    BTW thanks the awesome product. You’re one of the few ‘web 2.0’ ( I hate that term) companies that I am happy to pay to use and support and I tell everyone I know it’s the way to go for everything including replacement of OneNote.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Mark

    This new feature set needs more explanation than this post conveys. To say:
    “Web clipping results may vary depending on a number of things, including the site you’re clipping from, your browser, operating system, and other factors.”

    means very little. What are the factors? I’m on a latest mac with latest firefox, safari and evernote and I can’t get my web clips to look like your example. They look they the old example no matter how I try to clip it – even visiting your example site.

    And fancier formatting still doesn’t show up in the latest iPhone client despite what you say in your blog post.

    So what gives? Does it not work after all?

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Mark, if you clip that page using the Safari extension (not the bookmarklet) on Mac, you’ll see the nicer clip. As the post says, Firefox and the bookmarklet do not yet have all the new features.

  • RickK

    It just keeps getting better and better!

    You’ve got a great product, steady stream of additions and Improvements, great support and customer communications. I’m an EE (Evernote Evangelist).

  • eric kaufman

    Perhaps a stupid question, but is there any way to retroactively improve the quality of what I have clipped in the past? I assume that these updates will improve what I clip in the future, but will not be able to go back through what I already have and have the content display more clearly.

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Evernote cannot improve a clip that you made in the past. If you really want the clip to look more like the original site, then you’ll need to go back to the page and try clipping it again.

  • Wseries

    I’m not at all happy with the latest changes made to the Web Clipping feature in the latest version of Evernote for Mac. I preferred the old way as I only need plain text for web pages that I save. With these changes I now have to select all and then use the ‘Simply Formatting’ command from the Format menu just adds extra steps to my workflow. How about giving us a choice to opt out of this feature in a future update?

    • Richard.

      I would also prefer this as an option… having to use “simplify formatting” all my notes now is just annoying. Please, please add an option for plain text pasting, PLEASE!

  • Bob Williams

    Hooray! Thanks Evernote team!

  • David Simkin

    Hi guys,
    I’m a 66 year-old newbie coming to grips with all the fabulous features of Evernote.
    I’m pleased to advise you that you’re received a great review in the independent Australian Consumers Association magazine CHOICE and its sister publication COMPUTER CHOICE.
    Keep up the great work!


  • Ron Londen

    The new features are great! But I (and I’m sure many others) would love to see text highlighting as a standard editing feature. I highlight PDFs constantly (usually converted from web pages), and having to do that BEFORE importing limits the usefulness of the program. Much better to just nab an Evernote clip and do the highlighting within the program.

    Number one, by far, on my wish list…



  • tony Crosse

    I too … “preferred the old way as I only need plain text for web pages that I save. With these changes I now have to select all and then use the ‘Simply Formatting’ command from the Format menu just adds extra steps to my workflow. How about giving us a choice to opt out of this feature in a future update?”

    Please put it in the preference menu to opt out of this feature!!! thanks

  • Andrey V

    I am on version 3.5.3 and outlining is still a complete disaster. After 10 minutes of working on an outline all numbering and bullets get completely out of whack and trying fix them takes more time than creating context.

    Am I missing something here?

  • jerry yang

    This is very nice, very grateful.

  • Dion

    Cheers evernote, good work once again!

  • Jesse Redl

    Wow..the content editor actually works like I expect it to, and I don’t need to completely reformat everthing after emailing a note to myself.

    Great update!

  • Danaher

    This is great news guys. Any chance we can get an outline function? I think that’s the only thing that’s really missing for me at this point.

  • Geoff

    The new clipping ability looks great, just wish it also worked with Firefox. I expect you are already working on upgrading the Firefox add-on, but I thought I would offer some encouragement to the process!

    Thanks for a great product!

  • Steve Guzman

    Woohoo! Looking forward to the new templates. Even something as simple as THIS would make a world of difference:

    [X] Send request to Evernote [ ]
    [ ] Wash the Dishes
    [ ] Ask Steve about iPhone 4 Demo unit [ ]
    [ ] Ride my scooter to San Antonio for S&G [ ]

    Oh… and please let the template work on my iPhone too. <3 Always.

    • Stephen Millard

      In the interim, there’s some ideas for implementing templates on my Evernote page at Unfortunately the iPhone is a bit limiting for my workaround, but if you’re running OS X or Windows then it may be worth a look.

  • Joe

    Very nice work, really like the new version.

  • Val Christopher

    I have been using Evernote for a couple of months now and I find it brilliant especially the clipping feature.It is great to be able to keep information on so many different topics using one piece of software. I have it on my Mac Mini and sync to my Itouch. I am just waiting to get my Ipad when it is released in the UK when I can implement Evernote on that.

  • Wes Baker

    Is there anyway to turn this functionality off? I liked just clipping the raw content and not getting all the styles.

  • Victor Zaud

    Any chance the actual NOTE can get some style options soon, too? Would love to have grid, lines, yellow paper, etc. – just helps to get creative. Seems like a no-brainer and would eliminate those other apps that focus on that type of thing.

    • Mark Woodward

      I too would love to see some simple metaphor/templates like index cards which limit a certain length, yellow pad paper etc..

      Can I paste a ‘background image’ into a note and save it off as a template somehow?

    • Intrigue

      Yes, absolutely! Even giving it a simple college ruled paper appearance would make this program really shine.

  • Chris

    Glad to hear you’re working on more formatting options. I’m trying Evernote on the Mac after years of separate RTF files organized into folders, created in TextEdit. Until I tried Evernote, I didn’t realize how much I depend on tab-stops for organization and readability in my notes. I love all the other great features of the program — and I stay away from MS and other products precisely because there are too many formatting options for my everyday needs — but the lack of simple tab-stops is *almost* a deal-breaker for me.

  • Randy Starkey

    When copying and pasting from Word, single-spacing in Word still creates double spacing in Evernote.

  • Mike Sweeney

    Does this fix the issue with bulleted lists created on the Windows platform being corrupted when synced to the web? The bullets and indenting gets jacked up.

  • mtin79

    awesome. can`t wait for the upcoming text editing enhancements. yippiiieeee

  • notegeek

    Please include possibilty to create “folders” for the different notebooks since there’s so many sitting around 😉

  • Farley Lai

    I’m surveying and comparing some web clipping tools.
    To be honest, there isn’t a perfect one so far, that is, able to simultaneously clip web page with CSS style retained and render media objects correctly.

    Evernote does a good job to retain the page layout and style while Posterous excels in rendering media objects such as Google maps, video and Flash as the original.

    Who will catch up with the other side first? Let’s wait and see.

  • k. holland

    How to print notes correctly in Evernote? There is no print icon and if i go to File>Print the text on the bottom of the note gets scrunched together.

  • Gabe da Silveira

    I’m having a laundry list of problems with the rich text editor (I never used the old version so I’m not sure if it’s better or worse). I’m not doing anything really fancy, and I’m not pasting rich content. I’m just using the editor and having a bunch of annoying issues including but not limited to:

    * The whole note is Arial in Evernote, but I see Times New Roman on
    * Sometimes when I select a single line, the whole rest of the document gets selected
    * Sometimes the line-height/leading is off when I copy and paste lines around even though all the text is the same size.
    * Sometimes when I paste a line it picks up font sizes and colors from somewhere in the document that is nowhere near the line I copied or where I pasted it
    * Sometimes text is a different font size or bold and the bold button will not work to unbold it
    * When I load up the rich text editor on it hangs safari, and this is a pretty simple note (2 font sizes, 6 colors, about 2 pages)

    This is a real bummer, because the core functionality and cross-platform nature of Evernote is really perfect, but some of these bugs are infuriating because I’m literally wrestling with the editor over minute details that it can’t seem to get right. It also makes me look bad if I don’t check a note before I share it because it may look like shit on the web.

    Given the choice between a flaky editor and plain text I’d have to choose the latter because at least it’s predictable.

  • Ryan Behrman

    I second Rob Parnell’s wish for highlighting as being number 1 on my wishlist.

    • JFW

      No news on highlighting coming out yet. 😐 I agree with Ryan and Rob-Highlighting and PDF annotation would be two features that are at the top on my wishlist too.

  • Alex M

    Any sort of formatting would be greatly appreciated. As simple as widening the margins on some text clipped from the web would help a lot. I have to many clipped pages that are narrow and long, where the text would reflow nicely if allowed to go the width of the note, not the width of the HTML table.
    Also, *please* add some sort of outlining feature…would totally replace other text apps with this addition!!

  • Doug Cranmer

    I agree with other commenters that highlighting is a feature that would be very useful in duplicating my handheld/paper/notebook workflow. Prior to switching to Mac, my use of Microsoft OneNote leaves me wanting for the ability to just use a formatting button to get a nice yellow highlight on my text. In the interim, I’m changing the color of the font of the text involved, but that is not optimal for my use. Keep up developing to keep Evernote at the top of it’s field.

    PS: Congratulations on the article highlighting Evernote in the Technology and Business sections today.

  • Jay Armstrong

    i landed here after a google search for how to highlight text in Evernote. i thought i was a numbskull and was missing something.

    i’d assumed it was possible since Evernote did an excellent job of receiving my text previously formatted in Google Docs, which had a number of highlighted lines. Evernote duplicated the formatting, complete with highlights, like a champ!

    in the meantime, i guess i can do my highlight edits in Google Docs and copy & paste once i’m done (if i really need to highlight text). but i’d love to be able to do it all in Evernote.

    LOVE the product! 🙂

  • Liv

    Please plain text! I almost don’t want to use Evernote without plain text 🙁 But it’s such a nice tool…


  • Matt

    Another vote for the option to use plain text. In particular because I like using the It’s All Text plugin to edit with gvim

  • Frank Poliat

    I’ve been using Evernotes about a year now. If ONLY it had an outline function arghhhh. This would make Evernote THE preeminent app of its kind. Also, drill-down tag search…..but mainly OUTLINE dammit!

  • Frank Poliat

    I just checked and Notepad has “keywords” that work like tags and works very well

  • Tim Rayner

    Any ETA on highlights?

    Or if they’re implemented already how do I access them…?

    I use Evernote for my Bible study so would be very useful to emphasise certain texts. At the moment I’m just bolding them and using the text colour option (yep, colour, with a ‘u’, because I’m British =D )

  • Bill

    I also really want highlighting– Im coming from OneNote and this is essential for me.

  • Kora

    I love the changes! I’m a recent convert – syncing OneNote was just too much work, as I tend to work as a consultant in a lot of different environments on different systems, plus my personal devices are numerous as I’m a gadget person. Syncing my devices in the background without ever having to give it a thought is fantastic.

    The only thing I really still miss about OneNote was the highlighting, as it’s one of my favourite ways to stay organized and draw my eye to the right places on the page. I really hope that is the next thing to come!

  • Ted McKie

    I also would REALLY like highlighting. I am slowly converting to Evernote from OneNote because of the ease in synchronizing across devices.

    We are running 40+ projects and every day I highlight the things that need to get done. Each project has a header which is bolded. Critical items are highlighted. I depend on leaving the bolding intact, and being able to remove the highlighting as we get things done and priorities change.

    We use red for highlighting critical path issues.



  • Mark

    I’m a teacher. Highlighting and annotating would be wonderful (and would completely erase any interest in using Diigo). I’m happy that this might be a possibility.

  • Daniel

    I’ve been waiting for highlighting in Evernote for, like, forever. Thanks for pointing out Diigo!

  • Ray Satiro

    +1 for highlighting

  • John Lee

    Add my vote for highlighting. It will be a great feature. Even better would be highlighting and option to automatically display the highlighted text as annotation before the main document. That way you don’t have to read an entire PDF or Word (or other document) to get the critical summary that interests you. All you have to do is look at your own annotation from your highlights.

  • Jon Payne

    Premium user here. . . in this blog over a year ago you mentioned templates. Is this feature available yet? I’d love to use templates to build something like a contact manager using Evernote.

    “we’ll be able to add a host of new features like highlighting, annotation, templates, better tables and lists, and more formatting options. We’ll be busy for a while…”

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Jon, We don’t officially have templates at this point. We recently added the ability to make copies of notes, which means that if you created a template note, you could copy that template and reuse it. For the time being, I suggest trying that approach.

  • James

    How far have you got with the ability to highlight text? That would be very handy…

  • moebla

    Would love highlighting and document templates. So many activities in project management require prioritization/reminders (outside of to do lists) and repeatable information gathering/reporting (templates).

    Thanks in advance for your consideration.

  • Kjpruhs

    PLEASE – Highlighting with multiple colors and templates! Highlighting is a MUST – this is the only reason I do not solely use Evernote. 🙁
    ++++++1 for highlighting

  • rose

    Premium user also. I vote for document templates! Thank you.

  • Jon

    Any update on support for highlighting text? I was at the Evernote Developer Conference, and saw some yellow highlighting in Phil’s slides on new features, but perhaps that was just the highlighting of search results?

  • Brad McGilligan

    Premium User – would like to be able to highlight. LOVE Evernote though.

  • Muriel C.

    What about a generic Excel style template, it could be use as a reminder of expenses, or for data to transfer later in a database…
    🙂 Thanks in advance for your reply

  • Lee

    Add highlighting. Would make Evernote nearly perfect.

  • Catherine

    +1 for highlighting
    I’m a college student and doing a test right now to see if I can use Evernote exclusively and go paperless next semester, but highlighting and adding notes is a MUST!!!!

  • Andrew S

    Jam your gee whiz bang styles somewhere else until you can get consistant formatting happening on a basic level with all platforms.

    Hey, here is an idea. A plain text option!

  • JimS

    Would someone please respond about a highlighting time frame? It’s been 1.5+ yrs. since the article above mentioned it and people obviously want it bad!

  • Henri Van Der Merwe

    Premium member: It is actually pretty ridiculous that something that is as common as Highlighting is not yet supported. It is the most common way of annotating texts, and totally pervasive!!

    Please Evernote!

  • Mansoor Qureshi

    I have been using evernote for a while now. Not having the ability to highlight is way too important for me. I think I am going to have to find another solution. Maybe go back to evernote or just use google docs. Sucks …

  • Daniel

    +1000 for Highlighting.

  • andrea

    please add hightlighting!

  • Ken

    Just downloaded a new update. STILL no highlighting. This has been practically BEGGED for, for months now. Is anybody at Evernote listening?

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Thanks for the idea.

  • GK Zachary

    Great little program but there is no way I would ever go premium without a highlighting function. (Hyperlinking would be nice, too.)

  • Gem

    Also a premium user. Also begging for highlighting. I love the predictive notebook assignment, though. It’s already making my Evernote use a lot faster – thanks!

  • Yari

    Highlight!Highlight!Highlight!!! I am begging you…for highlighting….

  • Paul

    Need the highlighting!

  • Janice Beyer

    I freelance and get paid at different rates depending on the agency. I had invoice templates set up and would copy and paste
    to submit to whichever agency I was working for on that particular day. With the changes to Evernote I can’t figure out how to that now. Help!