is somewhat like marking your favorite lines in a novel with the Amazon Kindle highlights feature — except your one-stop knowledge repository can also include song lyrics, movie dialogue, poems, recipes, podcast transcripts, and any inspiring bits found in your reading and listening. The commonplace book is not a new concept: Copying down your favorite lines from other people’s works into your annotated notebook was a standard exercise in Renaissance Europe, and the idea can be traced to the Roman era.
But here, in theof digital connectivity, you don’t have to keep everything in one physical location. With the right app, you can use your smartphone, tablet, or computer to collect and sync new content for your collection — and use the search function later to find specific entries. Here’s how to start making a commonplace digital book — or convert that battered notebook of thoughts and quotes you’ve been keeping all along.
If you’ve never made a commonplace, first learn how others have used it. Academic libraries and museums are to many commonplace books; you can see them without leaving the couch. John Milton’s commonplace book is on the British Library site, and the personal notebooks of other writers and thinkers pop up quickly with a web search.
The YaleLibrary has scanned pages of commonplace historical books. The Harvard Library has a few online collections and images of a version of John Locke’s 17th-century guide to making commonplace books, which was initially used and . And the Archive has hundreds of commonplace digitized books for browsing or borrowing, including one from Sir Alec Guinness.
Notes for Your Notes
Collecting your commonplace entries in a word-processing document stored online is one option for sheer simplicity. If you find that approach unwieldy, consider the note-takingApple’s Notes or Google Keep. To skip typing or pasting, Google Keep can scan and transcribe text from book pages images, and Apple’s assistant or the Google Assistant can create a note and take dictation. Just enter quotations and other text snippets whenever you get the urge.
You can also use your notes app through your computer’s, where it’s often easier to cut and paste items and apply text formatting. Your changes will as long as you’re logged into the same Apple ID or Google Account everywhere.
Use a Dedicated App
Plenty of specialized notebook and journal apps await you if you’d instead reserve your phone’s notes app for daily life. Some appslike keyword tagging to help organize your commonplace book by theme or topic. Most apps offer a basic free version but require a fee for certain features; for example, the Bear app for iOS and Mac devices.
Detail-orientedmay appreciate Notion, an expansive writing and organizing app with page templates and a clipping tool for saving parts of web pages to a note. Evernote, a longtime player in the commonplace mobile category, has templates, a Web Clipper function, and an app.
Day One, the popular personal journal app for iOS-based hardware, has its own Apple Watch andversions. Daybook, another journaling app, runs on Android, iOS, and web browsers — and works with Alexa, Bixby, and so you can create entries by voice or have them read aloud.