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How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers (my reading notes)

Index cardsAnybody who follows me on Twitter or reads my blog will know that I am absolutely smitten with index cards. I have taken notes in index cards for decades, and I still do it. I loved index cards as a grade-school student and I adore them as a professor. I have a number of boxes to store my index cards. A few of those are portable, so you can take them with you, others are intended to stay at home. Index cards have been an intimate part of my life since I was too young to even write on them, and will continue to be an important element of my teaching practice, as I strongly believe that my students benefit from learning how to take notes in index cards, and the various methods associated with their usage. In fact, this 2020 I taught note-taking techniques using Index Cards and all my students have loved it.

There are numerous strategies to take notes with index cards, but perhaps the most famous is Niklas Luhman’s Zettelkasten, which has recently been made popular again by Dr. Sönke Ahrens, who wrote one of the most authoritative texts on the method. Full disclosure: though I bought and paid for Ahres’ book on my own dime, I actually do NOT use Zettelkasten, as my Twitter thread explains.

Bottom line: I DID enjoy this book and recommend it though I really do not like the Zettelkasten method as is. Hope my reading notes are helpful to someone.

As someone who LOVES index cards, and who is a Virgo, Type A, Upholder (Gretchen Rubin) you might wonder what I do NOT like about Zettelkasten.

I do not like the sequencing approach, nor the “unique key”.


I think reading Ahrens’ book is EXTREMELY VALUABLE/HELPFUL.

DISCLOSURE: I bought and paid for this book on my own dime, as I do with ALL my books.

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Posted in academia, research methods, writing.

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