6 years ago I read this beast of an article titled “How to Use Evernote for Your Creative Workflow”[1] by productivity consultant Tiago Forte and it is still resonating with me today. It is all about attention, memory formation and creative thinking.
Among all this theory, there is one practical idea that changed how I think about note taking:

Progressively summarize the most important points of a source in small stages (compression), and…
Preserve each of these stages in layers that can be peeled back on demand (comprehensiveness)…

This is the answer to how to read something and actually take something away from it (forever). Let me show you how to do this with Joplin.

#1 - Pulling in what to read: Joplin’s Web Clipper

Joplin comes with browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox that allow you to save the content of the page directly into Joplin[2]. Whenever you can, use the “Clip simplified page” option to reduce markdown clutter.

#2 - Read in Joplin

If I am interested in an article I don’t read it in the browser anymore. I use Web Clipper to save it to Joplin and read it there. This allows me to progressively summarize as I go.

#3 - First level summary

As I am reading, I use the highlight markup to put a bright yellow background behind the most interesting parts of the article. You either do this by putting tags around the text or by installing the Menu items, Shortcuts, Toolbar icons plugin[3] and using == to highlight the text.

#4 - Progressively summarize while preserving layers

Whenever I find myself re-reading a page, I again do so in Joplin. Now, if I want to emphazise more content I can add more highlights as in step #3 or I bolden text within highlights to progressively summarize the article. Highlights and boldenings stand out on quick scans even as all the layers (the original article) are preserved.


  1. https://medium.com/praxis-blog/how-to-use-evernote-for-your-creative-workflow-f048f0aa3ed1#.1rzbndv8c ↩︎

  2. https://joplinapp.org/clipper/ ↩︎

  3. https://github.com/tessus/joplin-plugin-menu-shortcut-toolbar#readme ↩︎

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4 Replies

Matt Stine 🚢 Matt Stine 🚢

So I had not read this @fortelabs article before...great stuff. Highlighted a bunch and made a lot of notes. Also hadn't heard of Joplin! Thanks! Incidentally I'm going through BASB cohort #13 starting next week. source

Stephan Hagemann Stephan Hagemann

Cool! What’s BASB? source

Stephan Hagemann Stephan Hagemann

Interesting! Thanks for sharing! source

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