I tried Evernote, WorkFlowy, and OneNote for note-taking before settling on using Org-mode. In this post, I list some of the reasons I finally chose org-mode (and been using it for more than 2 years now).

org-mode-screenshot The image shows an excerpt from my notes, illustrating the benefits of using org-mode

1. Write in plain text, Render with rich formatting

With Org-mode, you write and store notes in plain text files. The formatting is very similar to the Markdown format with few differences. The main advantage of having notes in plain texts is that my notes are not caged within any particular tool (in this case Emacs).

2. Nested Notes, ability to collapse content

Like WorkFlowy, you can have nested notes in org-mode, and can easily fold/unfold notes at various depths. But unlike Workflowy, you are not limited to just bullet points. You can write normal free-form text under any bullet point (heading). You can have nested lists in Evernote/OneNote, but long lists quickly become unwieldy as they do not allow collapsing notes.

3. Images in notes

With org-download plugin, it is easy to capture screenshots, save and display them in the notes.

4. Special characters, superscript and subscript

It it easy to write special characters - for example, you can write \lambda to display the λ character. Superscript can be achieved by inserting ^ between characters or words, for example A^2. Similarly, subscript can be done by inserting underscore between words.

5. Vim editing

I’m a big proponent of Vim, and use it everywhere even outside of programming. With Vim, you can quickly jump to different parts of text, move chunks of text, and edit text quite easily, all from the keyboard without using mouse.

6. Export

You can export org files to Markdown, HTML, PDF or a myriad of other formats.

These are just few of the things that I like about org-mode. I didn’t write about the other major benefit of using org-mode: Task management. This post started with an objective of writing about all the ways I use org-mode. The goal was ambitious and so I kept procrastinating (~6 months). Today, I decided to go with a short snippet of text, and either expand the article itself in the future with more details, or just write more short blog posts.