Vince Imbat

How to convert literature notes to permanent notes

Sep 3, 2021

Before you being, remember that you don’t have to follow the book’s structure or even its concepts. You can create your own concepts and structures based on your individual mental models.

To convert literature notes into evergreens, do the following:

  1. Since writing permanent notes out of literature notes can take a lot of time that you might need to spread out in multiple work sessions, you could start everything in a single digital note first. Title this one note with the title of a book.
  2. Begin to cluster highlights and annotations (Fleeting notes) you’ve taken while reading around single big concepts. Think about this process of creating clusters as creating an index for a book. For definitions, collect usage examples in the text and definitions themselves to get a clear picture of the term’s meaning.
  3. Write a title for these clusters as if you are writing note titles (How to write good note titles). This is helpful because these clusters could become individual notes or structure notes later.
  4. Bold this title.
  5. If there are multiple big concepts, then create multiple big concept titles within the digital note.
  6. When you start clustering annotations, you will notice that there are individual concepts within those clusters. This is specially true if the big concept is a conclusion with many premises. Start writing atomic permanent notes for each of these premises.
  7. Connect these new notes with past notes. Fill permanent notes with links to other notes.
  8. Return to the big concept note. If it doesn’t have its own note yet, you can now separate it from the original note and put it on its own note. Revise it based on what you learn writing the small concept notes. Be as concise as possible when writing.
  9. Repeat the process to other big concepts.

At the end of a permanent note, include the references you used to write them and include the exact passages that prompted the note under each reference. Do not delete the original aggregation of texts. Keep them under the note bearing the book’s title as reference.

# References

Matuschak, A. (n.d.). How to process reading annotations into evergreen notes. Andyʼs Working Notes. Retrieved September 3, 2021, from

Tietze, C. (200 C.E., 46:00). Create Zettel from Reading Notes According to the Principle of Atomicity. Zettelkasten.