On making notes

I've been writing notes extensively for the past few years and, more importantly, have been consulting, referencing and tweaking them frequently.

My aim is to build a digital commonplace book that grows with me.

Here's my note-making process with the hopes it can be of inspiration to someone else. Many of the terms here I borrowed from PKM terminology or the Obsidian community.

Guiding principles

The app

I currently use Obsidian to write my notes. Main reasons are:

If you want to get started with a setup similar to mine, you can download a pre-configured Obsidian vault I prepared.

Types of notes

Evergreen notes

These are the bulk of my content. I write them with my own words and contain pieces of knowledge I want to preserve, ideas, reflections, etc.

Here's an example of one of my notes:

Screenshot of a note about JavaScript frameworks
An evergreen note in Obsidian

Literature notes

Notes about a book, a course, a video, etc. These often contain literal words by their authors.

For books, I tend to read in an ebook and then I import the highlights that I made. After a bit of curation, I try to think if some of the highlights remind me of something or are related to some evergreen notes, or other sources, and then I link them.

I put a section at the top of the note with the 3-5 main key points I want to remember this source for.

After a while I revisit the note with the aim of maybe extracting some seeds for evergreen notes.

Maps of content

Also known as MOC's, these are gateways to a topic. Think of them as an index or a table of contents, but tweaked and adapted to you, evolving with time, instead of something rigid.

I tend to create them when I have a bunch of notes related to the same topic and in the beginning it might be just a bullet list with links to those notes. And then, as more and more notes are added, and the MOC grows and shapeshifts.

In order to differentiate them from regular notes, and to locate them easily in the sidebar, I like to prefix them with an emoji that makes reference to their topic.

Here's an example of my Map of content about Japanese:

Screenshot of a note about Japanese
Japanese MOC in Obsidian



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