The choices are endless when it comes to different apps to use for Bullet Journaling. Any one of the apps can work as long as the app is a PDF annotation app. However, for most they make the choice based of the features available within the app itself.
The Main features someone will look for in an app:
- Having a way to jump between the pages without scrolling through the pages. Who wants to scroll through every page between the current page they are on and the one you want to go too?
- Having the option to add some images to the bullet journal.
- Having the option to write by hand
- To have the option to copy and paste available.
- To be able to rotate the images
- Having the option to flatten the annotation
- To be able to select
It might not look like it is important things to consider when deciding on an app for your bullet journal. Understand what is important to the user in an app when that person wants to do digital bullet journaling.
To have the option to jump between the pages without going through every page. No one wants to scroll between the current page and the page you want to go too. Clicking on a link to jump to another page is quick. Scrolling through the pages take too long. Scrolling through the pages can put someone off from doing Digital bullet journaling.
Let us start with how the user experience will be without this option.
Start at page 2, in other words the index of your bullet journal. You want to go to the page that have your daily spread on it. The page you are looking for is page 30. What is the best option for going to page 30? It is either jump with a link or use the alternative option of using a bookmark. Without that, you will have to go and manually scroll to that page. The physical bullet journal does have some type of hack for jumping to other pages. Everyone knows this is having tabs in your bullet journal.
Another thing to note here is that when it comes to adding pages to the bullet journal. You might not be able to have the links if you import a new page. Some apps have the duplication option. This keeps the links created to the original pages were linked too and not the number of the page. That in itself is necessary for most bullet journalist. No one wants unlinked links in their bullet journals.
The option to add images to the bullet journal
Most bullet journalist will want to use stickers. Who does not want to decorate their bullet journal with a sticker or two? With digital bullet journal you can use just about anything as a sticker. The spreadsheets that no one want to go and redraw day after day or month after month. Well, in the digital bullet journal world that those spreads can be a sticker as long as the image you use is a .png file-type image. Just size the image to the correct proportions and the 20-minute struggle to redraw the spread is now down to about a minute or two. This can be longer depends on the perfectionist in the person.
The option to write by hand
If you use a tablet, phone or even a touch screen laptop that you can fold open and use the laptop like a tablet, you would want to write by hand. Why type everything out of you prefer to write everything out by hand. There are more than just having the option to write by hand. You would want to choose between different colors for color-coding your bullet journal. If you are a student taking notes, some colorful notes that is. You would want to change the color as needed.
The copy and paste option
Writing something in the wrong place or the idea of having to rewrite something if you can easily copy something. This can get anyone annoyed very quickly. Who want to go and rewrite something several times over, if there is something in the digital world known as copy and paste? It is a lot easier just to copy and paste something. This also comes in handy when you want to have a sticker book. You can have a sticker book where you copy your .png images (stickers) from the sticker book and paste it in the bullet journal. This can help with setting up your monthly, weekly or even daily spreadsheets. Why keep importing the images repeatedly if copy and paste work a lot better.
Rotating an image
Setting up the monthly spreads and you use some stickers for that. Some of the stickers are word stickers and you want to change the direction the words go. Those stickers originally come in one direction and you want the words to go in another direction. You need to change the direction by rotating the image.
Flattening the annotation
You have all the elements on your bullet journal page where you want it to stay. When there is nothing you want change or copy from that page, you can have it not to move by accident. The flattening option can help you not to mess with some of the elements on the page. This can be a lifesaver, since it can also help with saving the changes made so you cannot go and undo or mess up the things you want to keep on the page.
To select something on a page, most PDF annotate apps have the selection option, but you can be limited. For you to be able to select what you want and how you want to select it without worrying about something. You might not want to have select something on the page you actually did select.
Looking at all the features that is ideal for the users there are a lot more then then the ones that I have already mentioned.
Clickable links using in the PDF app, you want to be able to use your links. Unusable links means that you are stuck to scroll through every page to get to the page you want. There are PDF apps that will allow you to add more links to your Bullet Journal. There are one or two out there that will allow you to even edit the links. Some of the links have other customizable options, like if you will see the boundaries of the links or are the links transparent. This is where you cannot see where the links are.
If you do not want to use the links or do not have the option to use links. Use the bookmarks as a quick page reference to where your preferred pages. Most if not all the PDF annotation apps have a section to there you can click on to see that pages you did bookmarked.
Adding images or what people in the digital bullet journal community will say, stickers is one of the most importing things. This might not seem as something important, but there are more to it. Adding some sticker is one thing, but just to add the sticker is not enough. Rotating the sticker in with any degree of rotations. Not limited to the 45 degrees or 90 degrees increments only.
If the rotation of the image option is out of the way, and the image is the wrong size, that is something you want to control. There are a few options you want, just change the size? You can change the height, the width or the entire size keeping the ratio. What about the opacity of the sticker? How about see what is behind the sticker, but you still want to see the sticker itself. Then you get those times where taking an image of something that you just want to add to your bullet journal. That needs to be a possibility.
From the images to the shapes. There is times that adding in a shape instead of an image/sticker works better. You can add a label or border around some text. You can have the option to add the shapes in different sizes and colors. This can help with creating some interesting layouts. It is not just to have the option to add shapes. It is to customize the shape. From different shapes that you want to add to the option of changing the shape how you want it to look like.
Things that you want to change is the outline color for your shape even the thickness of the outline, if you want to add an outline. You can be creative and have a shape where the outline and fill are two different colors. That can work. A none-filled shape can work if you want to an outline only. You want a fill, but want to see what is behind the shape, have the opacity set to low. A problem that can arise is you want the outline and fill to have different opacity. Some software allow you to alter the outline and fill separately.
Having something, you have written on paper stand out, you use highlighters. You can also do this on digital paper. First, we need to address the biggest problem there is when it comes to highlighting something. The highlighted part needs to be underneath the writing, not on top. The total amount of times you highlight over one area, the opacity needs to stay the same. There are software that have the highlighter option, but highlighting over a certain area to many times will color in that area. You will not be able to see what you have written.
Depending on the size of your writing, you would want to change the highlighter size. To have it the same size or slightly bigger than your handwriting or the font size, you wrote in. Then you choose in what color you can highlight. Not everyone wants to stick with the one color to highlight every time you want to highlight something. This is where to change the highlighter’s color comes in.
If the understanding of how important this option was not clear by now, let me explain what you can do when you can select something. Choosing to move something from one area of a page to another area. You need to select before you can flatten the annotation to the page. To change the style in the option of what you used, you need to select it first. To delete something (harsh I know) you have to select it to. For copying and pasting something, you need to select the area you want to copy.
Is it clear now how important selecting is to digital bullet journaling. Then you get the how you select something. Click on it if it is one item, or use a select tool. Here is where some of the problems of selecting can come in. You want to select certain things on the page. Limited to one option like a square will mean that you have to go in and move things out of the way to select only what you want to select. For a circular option, you can miss some of the things you want to select. Although circular as an option, someone will not go for directly you will still use it often in another way.
Most people will prefer the freehand select to choose what they want to select. A small circle by the sticker you want to copy to the bullet journal can help with copying only the sticker you want and not all the ones around it.
This is a more common option to removing something from your bullet journals. Once you made a mistake you want to fix it, erasing something is the way to go. A few things that you need to be aware. Erasing in groups? This is an option only when you group things together, when using the pen tool and find that while you write it group every stroke you make in a certain time span. There is the option that you can erase individual strokes that you made. You can even go as far as erase only where the eraser were stroked.
Have a bad handwriting or have the option to type and you prefer to type instead of handwriting. Working with text can open a bigger assortment of problems if you are not ready for it.
In short, the text option is like any other text base app. Choosing what size you want write in. Choosing the color, you want the text to be. Choosing the font, you want to type in. Having the text to be underline, italics or a strike-through. Then you get the option to choose the opacity of the text. Before you go and choose a text based software for a bullet journal app. You have the text in a text box, you can moved the text box around and copy and pasted.
Adding a page
To add a page in your bullet journal might not be the option you want. Adding a blank page means a brand new page – not related to the bullet journal. You can add from an image. This option can be that you have an image that you created the bullet journal page off from without the links that you add. The last thing that there is, is the most preferred option and that is to duplicate a page from your bullet journal.
Something to note when it comes to the duplication of a page, is that you are making an exact copy of the page that they want to duplicate. The software used linked, the links on a page to the actual page not the page number. You can change the order of the pages around. Be careful when deleting pages, do not delete an original page, you will be deactivate the links that are to that page in the bullet journal.
Copy and Paste
There are two main options when it comes to copying and pasting. One is to actually copy something and then paste it. The other one is to duplicate of something you selected. There is a lot that you can copy. The images you will referred as stickers, handwritten annotation, text, highlighters and shapes. If you can select it in the bullet journal, you can copy it. Anything you copy, you can paste.