Today, I’m just going to boil down the steps I take to organize research when writing a book:
- Buy a 4-5″ 3- ring binder
- Insert tabbed index sheets with broad categories that apply to my work
- Print out everything I find from reliable sources on the Internet
- Highlight passages that I’ll want to use in the book, either for reference or for citation.
- File each page in a general category in the binder.
- Print out potential images and on the back, what they relate to. (My printer adds the URL to the bottom or the page where the image was found, but if you don’t have your printer set to do that, you’ll also want to record the URL.)
- Take notes from books in a wire-bound notebook (which will be added to the binder later. Be sure to add the book and page number where the reference was found.
- Read back through my book notes and highlight details I’ll want to use in the book.
- Create a spreadsheet from my book highlights.
- Give each book read a number designation, so that entries from books are like 2-256, which means “Book 2, page 256
- Number each printed page in the binder
- Give each section in the binder a number and follow the same convention as with books. (4-34 means section 4, page 24).
- Refer to the spreadsheet as I’m writing the material so that I can easily refer to it for clarity or for pulling quotes and citations.
That’s it. It’s my own system, though, and it may not work for you. Or, you may know of a bit of software that works better for you. (Let me know what that is, OK?). However, this method has helped me to write some pretty heavy-topic books and it worked very well.
Maybe you’d like to try it!