Wednesday 21 August 2013

Indexing your notebook content

If you use a bound notebook rather than a loose-leaf system it can be tricky to locate a particular note just when you need it. Your notes are likely to have been accumulated in a chronological order and unless you maintain multiple notebooks the information won't be organised to make retrieving it always a simple matter.

That's where an index can be very useful. When you set up a new notebook for the first time, reserve the first six pages (or the last six - the choice is yours). Divide each of those pages into four sections, like this:

Do this to all six pages and you will have 24 sections in all. You need to assign each to a letter of the alphabet, combining X, Y and Z in the last section. If you want to combine a few more letters (P and Q, or W and V, for instance) you might be able to get the index down to 4 or 5 pages. Write the relevant letter in each section:

Now, as you go about filling the rest of the notebook, take some time, perhaps weekly, to review the new content and index it. If, for instance, page 3 of your notebook contains a list of the books you want to read, create an entry in your index section for the letter "B":

 If later you should list more books you want to read on page 16, you can add this to the same entry:

Here's how your opening index page might look after a couple of weeks of use:

This is a really practical way to get the advantages of a bound notebook and still be able to find specific content quickly when you need to.


Carol said...

I don't write a journal myself but it seems to me that this would be a great idea for those who do. Another gem, Ray.

Unknown said...

If you have a-z filofax inserts you don't need you could use those to write on. Would give you two pages per letter, and you could even code your notebooks so it was MTN1 6-9 etc.
Or even split an A5 set into columns to cross reference different notebooks, or an entire year of books.

Monia Marzo said...

thank you Ray :)

indigogarden said...

Normally, I just reserve the first 2 pages for my index and then write down what project I'm working on and where it starts. Most of my notebooks are used to brainstorm and outline either novels or short stories.

Sometimes I put in small index tabs on the top of my composition notebook to help me find things better.

If I was using a book for random note taking, I think that your system would work better. I'm going to "make a note" of your idea. :)


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