Leonardo da Vinci gave us a different note-taking paradigm. His notes started in the middle of the page, not the top, where he wrote or illustrated the core theme of that particular page of notes. From there he drew branches out to various main topics, which he then divided visually down into subtopics, drawing illustrations as needed, and drawing connections between ideas where connections needed to be made. His notes illustrated not only the information, but the relationships between different pieces of information. Had he not written everything backward as a mental exercise, it would be easy for anyone to see the "big picture" in his notes.

As new device types become ubiquitous, it's time to rethink how we take notes. While there are more cutting-edge products out there, Evernote and Microsoft OneNote provide forward-looking, highly productive options for multiple devices and the cloud. Each has its advantages.

The two most prevalent examples of note-taking software are Microsoft OneNote and Evernote, from Evernote Corp.

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