The Daily Pony

What is a Literature Note?

  • A literature note is a single note containing references to all the interesting passages in a book (or other piece of media) that you encounter.
  • A literature note is one of the resources you will use to create zettels.

Ahrens' literature note is what many zettelers call a reference or bibliographic note. Personally, I prefer the term "reference note," as that's both what it is and what it's for: referencing.

A reference note is a single doc containing all the interesting ideas that caught your attention while reading a book (listening to a podcast or watching a documentary, etc). These very brief mentions are listed in the order they were captured, each with a page number and, if so desired, a tag or topical reference.

A reference note might look like this:


Ahrens, S. (2017). How to Take Smart Notes. 
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

13 reference to speed writing (effort)
14 trying to squeeze too much (squeeze)
15 no effort (effort)
18 ref to bibliography (lit note)
20 index ref (index)
21 need only make a few changes (effort)
24 discrepancies btw lit/perm (perm)

As you can see above, reference note captures are brief jots intended to remind you of what you found interesting. These are not fully developed ideas or lengthy unpackings of a concept. These are, as the name suggests, references to what caught your attention.

Reference notes are not zettels. At some point during or after the process of capturing interesting ideas from your source, you will create individual zettels (what Ahrens calls both "permanent notes" and "the main notes in the slip-box") based on what of your captures you are currently interested in working on or think might be interesting to work on later.

It's important to note, however, that not everything you capture need become a zettel. Just because an idea caught your attention during your first pass, does not mean that the idea deserves to be incorporated into the main compartment of your slip-box just yet. Feel free to make as many or as few zettels off of the captures in your reference note, knowing that you can always come back to the reference note later.

This is why Ahrens rightfully describes the literature/reference note as "permanent," because it is permanently stored in your zettelkasten. It will serve you as both an index of the media source, as well as a source of inspiration for future zettels.

#2022 #posts #zettelkasten

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