Plain Text, Rich Text, Formatted Note, or Markdown?

Hi, all,
It’s well-known that DEVONthink offers four types of notes, namely plain text, rich text, formatted note and markdown (in fact, there’s a fifth format “web archive”, but it’s not pretty intended for note taking). I wonder which note type do you actually use, and what’s your opinions about them?

For me, I mainly use formatted note to keep some of my laboratory data (some computer generated images and some numbers) because I found it’s more flexible than Rich Texts. I never use plain text, because it lacks the functionality to store multimedia objects, and I never use markdown, because better MD editors exist (I use as my major note taking app). In my case, DT is more like a file storage system than a note taker.

Please, comment below and let me know how do you actually use DT, especially for note-taking. Do you use DT as an alternative to Evernote? What role does DT play in your daily workflow? Let’s share your golden ideas with others and improve together!


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I prefer RTF (not RTFD) - editing is user-friendly and WYSIWYG and it’s fully supported by macOS. I don’t share my personal notes anyway but it’s nonetheless important that the format is not app- or platform-specific. And simple RTF documents can be also edited on iOS.

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I use plaintext for thoughts and excerpts (highlights from books, articles, etc.

I use richtext for notetaking in a meeting/gathering because of its flexibility: i can mix pics, styling, …

I sometimes only snapshot handwritten notes when im sure there’s not much value in them.

I use MD for ideas, project notes, structured writings.

I mindmap with simplemind and add a pdf snapshot of it to DT.

Nice point! Do you use any shortcuts or scripts to formatting/stylizing texts, or just use mouse clicking the format buttons?

Just the default shortcuts usually (Cmd-B/I/U and Cmd-+ or Cmd–). And as I always use the same styles & fonts, I just copy/paste fonts & rulers (see Format > Font > Copy/Paste Font and Format > Ruler > Copy/Paste Ruler).

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Thanks for sharing! I can tell your workflow is indeed organized and efficient.
A small question: when using MD, do you use DT’s built-in editor, or third-party app? If you use DT’s markdown editor, how much does it satisfy you?

Copy/pasting fonts is yet another great feature I didn’t even notice! Nice tip!

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half-half: sometimes internal editor, sometimes I open it in external editor (macdown).

I like that an internal editor exists, although not fancy. As a shortcut.

I write long-form Markdown documents every day in DEVONthink, for personal and professional purposes.

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That’s very hardcore… How do you deal with images? There are many other markdown apps that supports copy/pasting images. In DTP you can only insert images by typing links, AFAIK.

I use a well-defined group structure, no different than creating an HTML page. So I can easily insert an image with ![](img/myImage.png), etc.

However, I could also just include the images at the same level as the Markdown document, but I’d still be inclined to encapsulate them in a group of their own.

I used RTF exclusively. I tried markdown but realized I need the WYSIWYG of RTF to help me organize my thoughts as I write (and not limited to a preview window/mode). I use bold, underlines, and highlighting to give the doc some hierarchy (e.g. title is allcaps + bold, headings are bold, subheadings are underlines, special content is highlighted). I also use bullet lists and tabs a lot to organize my thoughts.

I have a template set up with my basic formats. Then I have some function keys set up to quickly do basic formatting when needed, and have a couple scripts to reformat articles I have clipped.

(e.g. title is allcaps + bold, headings are bold, subheadings are underlines, special content is highlighted).

Funny… I can do all that in Markdown as I type. :slight_smile:

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Maybe, but you can’t see it AS you type. Well sure… but way over in that other window! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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but way over in that other window! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

“way over” ? Our sense of distance is very different. Haha!

Honestly, I resisted Markdown as eye-rolling nonsense for some time. But @korm insisted I would like it, so I finally buckled and downloaded MacDown. I fell in love with Markdown that day and it really allows me to focus on just writing. And typing a control character here and there is so second nature, I find myself typing them in other places now :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, as an artist, the ability to make global changes to the appearance with CSS is part of why I love it.

And yes, I love the Markdown support in these forums. And I also draft most of my support ticket responses in Markdown.

Maybe you can try some decent MD editors equipped with WYSIWYG engine, like Bear, which I’d recommend to everyone.

It’s usually good to maintain a reasonable structure, with images all put in single group, but one question: how do you handle name conflicts? If you put a lot of images in your notes the /images group will grow quickly, and names can conflict.

Besides, I always find it a hassle having to type the ![]() format string manually all the time. Do you use keyboard macro softwares or text expanders?

how do you handle name conflicts? If you put a lot of images in your notes the /images group will grow quickly, and names can conflict.

Honestly, I have never run into a naming conflict.

Do you use keyboard macro softwares or text expanders?

Not for writing Markdown… and not often for other purposes either.

@BLUEFROG yes, we’ve had this debate before! I do appreciate the theory of markdown, and the ability to style. But when I write, it is usually business planning documents (outlines, schedules, pricing, priorities), and I find that being able to have the formatting right there as I type — using the formatting to help me organize my thoughts — is invaluable. I did a price comparison chart the other day, and not being able to enter the info into custom tabbed columns would have made it difficult for me.

Tried them. But I’d rather be able to do all my writing directly in DevonThink.

I like RTF because I make a lot of lists and the options for bulleted lists is only available in RTF and Markdown. I know Markdown is popular, but I look at it a lot like @dansroka; if there came a time I needed to use it, I could learn it, but right now it just seems like an extra layer and working in RTF is just as convenient.

I also like RTF on the Mac because I can embed files when I need to (which becomes an RTFd). I know the Formatted note is the preferred format for this in DT, but until they support bulleted lists, it’s less useful for me. Hopefully, the Formatted Notes file will support bullets in the near future, as it’s just an HTML file and highly portable.