Portals, tags, daily documents and workflow

Portals, tags, daily documents and workflow

TL/DR: What is the best workflow for aggregating topical data that is added to RN over the course of multiple days? Daily documents + some use of portals and tags OR dedicated folders? (Also, no video on portals has yet helped me really understand how to work with them.)

It is my understanding that RemNote can be used with a traditional folder system. That is to say, when I want to take notes on a book I’m reading, I can open a folder that I’ve created called “Books” and then find the book, open its document and begin taking notes or add to those notes on subsequent days. However, my further understanding is that RemNote is really useful for a different type of workflow that is more efficient and doesn’t depend on finding the right folder and document for adding to your notes. I’ve seen videos recommending that I do everything in my daily documents, and use portals (or Rem references? Or tags?? I have no clue which is best to use when) instead to collect information on one subject in one place. I have attempted to do this but I end up with documents that appear cluttered and chaotic to me. Let me give an example…

It’s Monday and I open a Daily Doc. The first activity I do that day is to start taking notes on a new book I am reading called “The Ghost Map” by Steven Johnson. I’m tempted to create a separate document called “The Ghost Map” and always open it every time I want to take notes, but I decide to try a different way:

Monday, in my Daily Doc

  1. I type The Ghost Map and use [[ to make it a Rem Reference. I’m confused as to whether this is essentially a tag as well.
  2. I take notes as usual, making flashcards where it seems appropriate. I get through Ch 1.
  3. While taking notes on Ch. 1, the Crimean War is mentioned. I realize that I don’t remember anything about the Crimean War, so I decide that I will make it a Rem Reference as well. My plan is that I will later look up some basic information on the Crimean War and add it to RemNote.

Tuesday (new Daily Doc)

  1. I want to take notes on Ch. 2 of The Ghost Map. This is where I get confused.
  • Do I import “The Ghost Map” (which is, in my mind, simply a Rem Reference at this point) into this Tuesday document? Now I have a portal in my Tues. Daily Doc? If I do, is it like pulling in all of my Ch. 1 notes into Tuesday so I can see them and continue taking notes? That seems cumbersome if the notes are long.

  • Or do I just start taking notes on Ch. 2 in my Tuesday daily doc and tag it by ##The Ghost Map? Or use [[ ? How are these different?

  • Or do I leave the daily doc and go to the Rem Reference/document for the book and take notes there? (THIS is when I usually don’t like what I see when I go to a Rem reference that I’ve taken notes on over several days in different DDs. ) Specifically in this case, rather than seeing a clean document with my notes from Ch. 1 waiting for me to continue with notes for the next chapter, I have a document with “The Ghost Map” at the top and then a reference at the bottom of the document — specifically a reference to Monday’s DD where I first started taking notes.

  • Are my expectations wrong? If I want a nice document for this book with all of my notes, should I avoid taking the notes in my DD completely and simply open the book’s “folder” and take notes there?

Wednesday (new Daily Doc)

  • I want to read over my notes for Ch. 1 and 2 from The Ghost Map. At this point, I have no idea what to do. Am I supposed to search for a tag? A rem ref? Is a portal search (?) the right option?

  • What if I want to find something specific in my notes from this book?

  • I read something interesting about the Crimean War, which I made a Rem reference in the first chapter of The Ghost Writer but which is still a stub. I want to jot this information down, but where do I do this and how? How do portals and tags relate to each other and to this need to record this bit of information?

I constantly hear how powerful the portals are, so I really want to understand how they fit into the process of learning and taking notes and how they are related to creating tags. But right now, I am not understanding how to take notes across daily documents without ending up with a messy list of references for a Rem reference.

Try the van Doorn article linked in examples here. There is also quite a bit of discussion around this topic on discord, especially in the learning club and math users group. The short version is as long as your notes are atomic and interconnected through references, you may create structure on top of them by either collecting references or portal around the same subject. At the literature note/single source stage, you may prefer to work in the same rem and shuffle them around just within that. You may also use the outliner for permanent notes or any combination of the above. The other materials in the linked list may be of interest, especially the video tours (skim Andy’s video of him taking an evergreen note from a book, as it seems fairly close to your intended workflow).

Thank you so much. I look forward to reading the articles. It may be intuitive to many, but for me RemReferences and Portals can be very confusing at times. Rems can be copied as portals, tags, and references - which is best for different situations? Portals and rems can be moved but what exactly happens when you do so? What exactly are the differences between “copy rem as portal” and “add portal” – these are the things I’m determined to figure out! Reading more articles, asking questions, and trial-and-error are the ways to get it mastered. I’m thankful for people taking the time to share their knowledge with me.

No problem Erin :slight_smile:

To more precise : REM-B will always remain where you created it in the first place. For example, let’s say rem-b is a child of the parent rem C. When you create a portal within rem A, you are opening (metaphorically) a window to rem B that gives you access to its content, BUT you are not moving rem-b into rem-a: rem-b will remain the child of rem-c.

That allows you to do exactly what you said : via this portal you can change the content of rem-B while staying in rem-A; and symmetrically if you navigate to rem-C and change content of rem-B (because the portal is nothing more than a windows to rem-B) you will see these changes happening in the portal (in rem-A).

So to answer you two questions:

  1. You absolutely do NOT need to make a [[reference for the portal to work. Portal and [[reference are two entirely different things.
  2. you can add portal to anything by doing CTRL+S or (( whithin remA, then you will be prompted by a search box where you type the name of the rem you want to create a portal of (for example “remB” )

just play around with unimportant rems that you can mess around with, and you will understand it better via practice :wink:

I also suggest you look at the article mentioned by Umnik.
TLDR:I think you should do what works for you using the tools available (see what I mean by works below), it’s a trial and error process with multiple legitimate outcomes. There are multiple ways to achieve taking notes for a book, and remnote allows any of them.

What works means : structure information so that it’s usable by your future self, meaning findable and can be referenced. IMO: you don’t have to force yourself in using daily notes, if you don’t find an appropriate conceptual relation between what you write in your daily note and the name of the rem (which is the date in this case). Just create a document book, under which you create a rem with the title of the book, and you are good to go. To me, daily notes are fine for journaling, log of my work output etc.

For the tools, those are their use case in my opinion:
portals : create a window into your current rem A that shows the content of another rem B; this is useful when in the thought process of A, you actually need the content of B to express yourself, and by using a portal you can avoid duplicating the information. Eg: I’ve a rem called “remnote presentation” where I present all advantage of remnote for researchers. When I’m preparing a meeting where I need to list the advantages of a rem, I create a portal to that rem; job done. This way the information can sit in multiple rem, while only actually being in a single spot (that make sense in my structure)

[[ references and tags: To me, the difference between the two as more to do with the way you phrase stuff than anything else. I would use a [[ref in the case the rem I’m referencing comes up naturally in the text. Otherwise, I would use a tag.
For both: image that you are intentionally “tying together” two rems because you know you would like in the future to find the relation between the two again. Eg: in a text you write about something, and this makes you think about another thing you read earlier, then use a tag or [[ref because you don’t want this conceptual relation to be lost. It’s a way to underline a conceptual or functional relationship between two rems, that you will need in the future.
An obvious misuse of tags and references is over tagging or over referencing; trying to be intentional in tagging or referencing is great because the links you create actually bears a meaning :slight_smile:

Good luck with your exploring ;:slight_smile:

Thank you so much. I really like your description of when you use portals vs. references and tags. I have a question about your portal example. So, if A is your document where you are preparing for a meeting and B is “remnote presentation” - I think you are saying you are typing in A and want to insert B into the A document – so you create a portal. Now it exists in two places and a change in either will result in a change in the other.

I have two questions:

  1. Does your “B rem” (remnote presentation) have to be a “Rem Ref” before you portal it into A?
  2. Which portal command (or keystrokes) do you use to add the B rem to A ? (i.e. add portal, copy rem as portal, insert rem in portal, search portal?)


Thank you so much. I really appreciate your taking the time to share your knowledge with me. I’m learning all of this so I can help my children be more efficient learners and so I can maybe build a “second brain” for all my life-long-learning pursuits – especially since I think my “first brain” is getting rusty! :wink: