Digital notebooks: a digital filing system

Digital notebooks organise your digital notes in the same way physical files or binders hold documents.

What is a digital notebook? 

Digital notebooks are hyperlinked PDFs for creating contents pages in your notes. Each topic is hyperlinked to title pages. All you have to do is fill in the contents page and the relevant hyperlinked title pages. Digital notebooks help keep related notes in one notebook instead of having them as individual notebooks in your note-taking app.

How I use indexed notebooks

Due to the organisation limitation in Notability, my main note-taking app (not any more, I moved to Noteful), I use digital notebooks to add an extra level of organisation in my notes. I prefer my lecture, rough and class notes in one notebook. 

On the contents page, I have all the topics for a particular subject. Each topic hyperlinks to the title page. All the notes related to that topic go below my page title. 

You can have as many pages under a topic as you need. Each title page in the notebook hyperlinks back to your contents page. There are many ways to use indexed notebooks. You can use them to: 

  • Keep different topics for a subject together
  • Break down projects into smaller ones
  • Break down big topics into smaller chunks

Advantages of using digital notebooks 

  1. If you want all your notes for a particular subject or project in one place, digital notebooks can do that for you. Nested notes are easier to track than separate ones.
  2. Most note-taking apps can’t create hyperlinks yet, this is a viable alternative if you want hyperlinks in your notes. 
  3. The hyperlinks will ease navigation through long notes.

Disadvantages of using digital notebooks

  1. Complex digital notebooks don’t work well the more notes you add to them. These notebooks are PDFs. The more complex they are, the more notes you can store in them and the bigger they get. iPad PDF readers don’t handle large documents well. It’s thus best to keep your notebooks simple. 
  2. Should anything happen to your notebook, you lose everything since digital notebooks collect all your notes in one place. When your notes are separate notebooks, you lose some but retain others. To prevent losing your notes, we recommend syncing and backing them up to make sure you can recover lost or damaged notes if a bug messes up with your app. 

If you want hyperlinks in your notes, why not get a hyperlinked indexed notebook instead? It is cheaper and easy to use in your preferred note-taking app. You don’t have to purchase an app for creating hyperlinks. 

For simple indexed notebooks, we recommend our Paperless X Minimalist Digital Notebooks and Simply Digital Design’s digital notebooks. For something a little more sophisticated, try Brookebot’s Digital Notebands.

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