Writing Tip – Tagging Your Notebook

The edge of a tagged notebook
Tagging a notebook, a great tip for any writer that will organize your life.


Here’s a tip, a technique from Japan, I had to try it, and so far, it’s been a success.  The picture at the top of this page is the edge of a Black+Red notebook indexed by using the page edges to reference certain topics in the index at the back of the book.  The last page looks like the following.


The journal in the pictures is my notebook for the second novel in the CORP series, when I was just getting started with it.  I keep character bios, story plots, outlines, and all manner of other things in this book so that while I’m writing I have all my notes at hand.  Note-cards are nice but a little gust of wind will quickly scatter them.  The notebook for the first CORP book left me flipping through the pages looking for something a little bit too often.  This was a nice compromise, that compliments my little stack of note-cards in their handy case.

The process is pretty simple, though a ballpoint pen may not be the best option.  It can be a little tricky dragging ink over the edge of the little pages, so a marker or any felt pen is probably a better option.  I rub the feed of my fountain pens over the page edge to drop just the right amount of ink.  If I need to look something up, I flip to the index, find the right keyword, and then open to the right page.  It’s that simple, and much less cumbersome than flipping through a book filled with notes and sketches.

The technique is explained a bit here.


This age-old method that dates back at least to the 1960’s is a wonderful way to organize a notebook, but beware, a full edge of little paper sticky-tabs poking through the pages can be a little unnerving to look at, so for general keywords I prefer the keyword idea, but don’t throw out all of your organizing tabs just yet.  Tabs have the wonderful property of being cheap and easy to use, and definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

Simply take your keyword-ed journal and use tabs to mark major divisions in the book.  I always try to organize my writing journals by reserving some pages for this or that.  At the beginning of the one pictured above are several pages of outlining, then character profiles.  A little tab on the first page of each section can further refine your search for that special piece of hidden information you are looking for.  As you can see, my bullet list contains a lot of character names.  I might have a section of notebook devoted to the antagonist’s story, his reasoning, and his plan for world domination, but that section isn’t all about him.  It includes the other characters, so a tab for “evil plan” would allow me to isolate the pages containing those notes, and the bullets further refine my search by letting me know which pages my main character is on.  Then I can find the precise place where he was threatened, or where one of the other characters dies as part of the plot.

The combination of tabs and keywords is definitely a winner for me.

Bullet Journal

Discover all about this from the videos at bulletjournal.com.  This is a technique that is taking the business world back to handwritten notes.  It’s fast, effective, and efficient.  My pocket notebook to-do list was already organized in a similar fashion, but my next may end up adopting some of the bullet journal specifics.  It’s a great way to stay organized if you tire of adding reminders to your phone and having the timers go off at all the wrong times.  Once you are ready, you just flip open your pocket book and see what needs to be checked off for the day.

I mention it here because this is very close to the way that I’ve used pocket journals to keep my life organized and moving forward.  As I get older, and being away from home so often, I forget which things need to be done.  I forget at the grocery store that we’re out of paper towels again.  Writing it down not only helps to aide my memory, but it serves as a check before I head to the check-out.  It’s a reminder that I need to fix a sink before I go out for coffee and searching for a new book to read.

Hope this was helpful.  Leave a comment if it was, or if you have any awesome journal organization ideas to add.

Update: This has become a habit, and I now do it in ALL of my notebooks.

Share me

Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.