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Going Paperless? Don’t Forget the Tablet PC



nopaperLifehacker has posted “The Complete Guide to Going Paperless,” which is kind of a big claim for such a concise write-up. Still, I think it hits all the key points. I’ve implemented all of them to some degree in the office and to a lesser degree at home (I am to screen as my wife is to paper). One tool I’ve used to help implement the move to being paper-free is my Tablet PC.

#2 on their list is printing and scanning to PDF. Have that covered at work thanks to Acrobat Standard and the scanning functionality of our photocopier. But what happens if you need to add to those PDFs? Inserting comments is good enough for some of that, but sometimes you need to take a red pen to a document or mark up a diagram. A mouse can do it, but it’s clumsy – really clumsy. No, those are jobs for a pen, so it’s best to keep it that way with a pen input device, like a Wacom tablet or a Tablet PC.

Next is advice to keep an image of your signature on file. Convenient, but I don’t think that’s any different than using a stamp. My preference is to sign fresh via a tablet and give each document a unique mark.

Their fifth bit of advice is to capture information electronically, and the Tablet PC definitely has this covered. Taking notes on-screen is the obvious way to get this done, but with a built-in microphone and/or webcam, it has other ways to capture information without touching the pen.

Of course, how well it works for you depends on how you use it. A Tablet PC is not a magic tool that eliminates paper, but used properly, it can help remedy some of the drawbacks of going paperless.



  1. bluespapa

    08/06/2009 at 4:22 am

    I’ve been thinking of going paperless forever, but the truth is I love paper. I love all the different textures, thicknesses, I love folding it, I love 20 pound bond rag paper, that ultra thin, light paper people used to send as letters overseas, I love origami paper, cards, stationary, inks, pens. I love but never mastered drawing and calligraphy, handwriting in every language I’ve ever seen, illuminated manuscripts, typescripts, carbons (but NOT ditto or mimeo), I love notebooks, the art of book design, font design, stitching and acid free papers. I love reading about these as well as handling them.

    I don’t want to go paperless, I want to go clutterless. I’ve made a dismal start, like all the times I quit smoking before I quit smoking. But I’ll never give up the fun aspects of paper.

  2. C.

    08/06/2009 at 8:08 am

    Maybe a good compromise would be to go paperless with paper documents that you don’t absolutely love and keep the really neat ones that you can’t live without.

    I love book design too. I collect childrens books and the printed ones are some much neater than the online versions. I also love handmade paper.

    But I also want to declutter as well so things like pay stubs, tax forms, bank statement etc. I get in electronic form whenever possible.


  3. Chris

    08/06/2009 at 9:28 am

    I went “paperless” about two years ago and haven’t looked back. The high capacity scanner at the office helps.

    The two biggest pro’s to the effort are the portability of the information (everything on my laptop vs. dragging multiple binders/folders around) and search (finding a clause in a thousand page contract in seconds vs. hours).

    One other benefit to the tablet pc is the ability to walk the information down the hall on the tablet vs. having to print it out for a two minute discussion.

  4. Nameless

    08/10/2009 at 7:29 pm

    I’ve found that I like Tablet PCs BECAUSE it means that I have to work with paper that much less. It was also why I still yearned for the stylus on pocket-size computers; I saw them as digital memo pads or digital Post-it notepads just as much as I saw them as MIDs or PMPs.

    I just find paper clunky to handle. I can’t duplicate it as easily, I can’t search it, I have to physically sift through wads of paper (especially if college ends up being like my high school days all over again, what with all the paper handouts), and I can’t correct mistakes as easily.

    The only major downside I can think of is battery life, and that’s just my TC1100’s battery showing its age. Not that it bothers me much when I’m usually in the presence of AC power…

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