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Tips for a commonplace book?


GV Penn
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I recently started a commonplace book in a notebook and I'm looking for tips to help lookup the information easy after the notebook is full.

 

Does anyone have recommendations for organizing the entries? Is it best to write the entries in chronological order and then write the topics in an index? Or should I keep sections within the notebook for each topic (such as Nature pg 1-5, History pg 6-10, etc)?

 

I'd love advice from anyone who keeps a commonplace book. Thanks!

Fountain pen enthusiast and amateur calligrapher

Currently inked: Pilot Custom 743 Deep Red <M>, Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue <B>, Pilot Prera <F>, Platinum Preppy <M>

See my thoughts on writing and pens at thejoyofhandwriting.com

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Quoting Leonardo Da Vinci: "A collection without order, drawn from many papers, which I have copied here, hoping to arrange them later each in its place, according to the subjects of which they treat."

 

I do also find this useful: first just copy tropoi as you find them, maybe marking each with one or more keywords. At some point, you can just copy everything over to a new notebook, this time sorted. This allows you to re-read and re-write (and re-interiorize) the contents.

 

 

 

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Added: I use a number of devices to help me locate information in unordered commonplace notebooks: I use a different ink color for each topic, when appropriate use highlighting methods to draw my attention to sources (so I can quote them if I use something), like drawing a rectangle around some text, or underscoring, or using capitals, and since I normally prefer an F or F nib, I use a B for my contributions so I know what is mine (and also because they are the lesser part). Changing the script from italic to cursive or all caps or whatever also helps.

 

This way, when I need to browse to find some information, I do not need to go over all the content, but can jump from one fragment to the next in a given topic, and thus can go quickly, almost as fast as if it were organized, but need not reserve in advance  space which I may end up not using.

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21 minutes ago, txomsy said:

Quoting Leonardo Da Vinci: "A collection without order, drawn from many papers, which I have copied here, hoping to arrange them later each in its place, according to the subjects of which they treat."

 

https://writingcooperative.com/zettelkasten-how-one-german-scholar-was-so-freakishly-productive-997e4e0ca125

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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1 hour ago, txomsy said:

Added: I use a number of devices to help me locate information in unordered commonplace notebooks: I use a different ink color for each topic, when appropriate use highlighting methods to draw my attention to sources (so I can quote them if I use something), like drawing a rectangle around some text, or underscoring, or using capitals, and since I normally prefer an F or F nib, I use a B for my contributions so I know what is mine (and also because they are the lesser part). Changing the script from italic to cursive or all caps or whatever also helps.

 

This way, when I need to browse to find some information, I do not need to go over all the content, but can jump from one fragment to the next in a given topic, and thus can go quickly, almost as fast as if it were organized, but need not reserve in advance  space which I may end up not using.


I just use flags.  

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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If you use a notebook made by Leuchtturm1917, they all have numbers printed on their pages, and ‘contents’ pages at the front of each notebook.

 

You can use the ‘contents’ page to set-out space for various topics (e.g. pgs 1-20 - food; 21-40 - films; 41-60 - dog breeds; etc), then record your thoughts/findings/tidbits of interesting information in any chronological order, by putting them in to the pages that you have reserved for whichever of your defined topics they should be ‘filed’ under.

 

If you are only going to use the notebook at home, you could create your own scheme of colour-coding for your entries - e.g. use black inks for thoughts/entries about business, red inks for thoughts/entries about Revenge, blue inks for entries about kittens, green inks for entries about food, purples for entries about unicycles, etc.

Foul in clear conditions, but handsome in the fog.

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I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Thank you for the recommendations everyone! I will try an index first and maybe add color coding too.

Fountain pen enthusiast and amateur calligrapher

Currently inked: Pilot Custom 743 Deep Red <M>, Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue <B>, Pilot Prera <F>, Platinum Preppy <M>

See my thoughts on writing and pens at thejoyofhandwriting.com

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