Literature Notes

Literature Notes in Zettelkasten are notes which capture information from the source material in our own words. They are sometimes referred to as Reference or Bibliographic notes. They the output of processing Fleeting Notes. Literature notes are then parsed for key ideas that we want to retain for our long-term thinking by converting into Permanent Notes.

Luhmann, a key proponent of Zettelkasten, stored his reference notes in a separate notebox with the information on one side and their bibliographic reference on the other. Ahrens (2017) (pg. 23)

The goal is to capture the "gist" of what the author is saying, by rewriting the key ideas in our own words. Be careful of capturing quotes in place of actual understanding. Writing helps to check our understanding and forces us to confront ourselves when we don't understand as well as we think. Ahrens (2017) (pg. 93)

The extensiveness of what we capture in literature notes depends on the text and our level of familiarity. The ability to find key information improves with practice, which the system of Zettelkasten provides everytime we use it. Ahrens (2017) (pg. 83)

Cover image source is Forte Labs.


Sönke Ahrens. How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking: For Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. CreateSpace, North Charleston, SC, 2017. ISBN 978-1-5428-6650-7. 1 2 3