Durham students’ top picks for productivity and organisation apps

Which digital tools do students use to organise themselves and their work? This was one of many questions Durham students answered in the 2018 Student Digital Experience survey. We count down the top ten answers here:

Sonocent icon10. Audio recording apps

Students reported using various audio recording apps, including Audio Notetaker, for making their own notes as well as recording lectures.

Google drive icon9. Google Drive

Students particularly liked being able to instantly save their notes to the cloud and the free storage space that Google Drive provides.


Another option for online storage is Office 365, which is available to every undergraduate and taught post-grad for free. This includes 1TB of space on OneDrive and the ability to share files with anyone else at the University.


Excel icon8. Excel

Students reported that they used Microsoft Excel for specific coursework as well as for more general study purposes.

Mendeley logo7. Mendeley

This free reference manager was popular with students, with one explaining how Mendeley ‘revolutionised how I consume literature, as well as how I write and reference’.

Cite this for me logo6. Cite This For Me

Another frequently mentioned referencing aid was Cite This for Me, which extracts reference information from webpages and produces citations in different formats.

Forest logo5. Apps for focus and productivity

This category included several different digital aids, but garnering the most mentions was Forest, an app that encourages you to stay off your phone for a specified amount of time.

Evernote icon4. Evernote

Students mentioned the Evernote app in relation to both note-taking and general organisation.


If you’re interested in note-taking apps, have a look at OneNote: it comes in at number 1 and is free for Durham students!


Google Docs icon3. Google Docs

Students especially mentioned Google Docs as helpful in collaborative work, from presentations to translating texts.


You can also share and co-edit documents in Office 365 without having to create a new account for everyone.


Word logo2. Word

Proving that the newest tools are not always the most popular, Microsoft Word was cited as useful for notetaking and ‘all aspects’.

OneNote logo1. OneNote

Microsoft OneNote garnered more mentions than Word and Google Docs combined. Part of the Office 365 suite available to all students and staff members, OneNote was described by one student as ‘amazing’.


Please note that this list is drawn from the student survey and is not necessarily endorsed by Durham University. When using any third-party tool, please read the Terms & Conditions carefully. Durham University is not able to provide support for third-party tools used by students or staff.