HN Books @HNBooksMonth

The best books of Hacker News.

Hacker News Comments on
How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers

Sönke Ahrens · 4 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers" by Sönke Ahrens.
View on Amazon [↗]
HN Books may receive an affiliate commission when you make purchases on sites after clicking through links on this page.
Amazon Summary
The key to good and efficient writing lies in the intelligent organisation of ideas and notes. This book helps students, academics and nonfiction writers to get more done, write intelligent texts and learn for the long run. It teaches you how to take smart notes and ensure they bring you and your projects forward. The Take Smart Notes principle is based on established psychological insight and draws from a tried and tested note-taking-technique. This is the first comprehensive guide and description of this system in English, and not only does it explain how it works, but also why. It suits students and academics in the social sciences and humanities, nonfiction writers and others who are in the business of reading, thinking and writing. Instead of wasting your time searching for notes, quotes or references, you can focus on what really counts: thinking, understanding and developing new ideas in writing. It does not matter if you prefer taking notes with pen and paper or on a computer, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. And you can start right away.
HN Books Rankings

Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this book.
> it just didn't click for me

ISBN-13: 978-1542866507 ISBN-10: 1542866502

Read that book. Or at least skim through it. I tried learning Org-Roam and started making notes while reading it. Even before I reached the end of it, I was sold on Zettelkasten. Even if I end-up using some other tool (I hope I wouldn't have to), my life will never be the same as before.

Jan 18, 2020 · coolswan on Luhmann's Zettelkasten
How to take Smart Notes is a very good book that explains this technique well. Highly recommend.

I'm just finishing this book, and I echo the recommendation. In fact, when I bought the book, I didn't know it was about Zettelkasten. This book won't satisfy those looking for concrete examples, but it will give you a lot of specifics and whys. Obviously, I'm in the early adopter stage at the moment, but what I'm reading fits my problem space (tons of notes, but I can't seem to find what I want, and I re-do research periodically because of it).
Seconded, it's a really well written compact book.

It's possible to tweak deft and org-mode a bit with some functions to make it very Zettelkasten like:

Also from me a clear recommendation. I have read the original in German, it is very good to read, entertaining and yet has depth. Suitable for all those who want to structure their work or thoughts better.

Btw, there is an own homepage of the book:

I like plain text backed in google drive. I use The Archive [0] but Notational Velocity [1] is popular as well. I don't have a bookmark system though. This book is an excellent explanation of a plain text knowledge base system [2].




I am beginning to use a zettelkasten. I think it's an excellent method for doing deep thinking, especially over a long period of time. See and for good introductions.

Reading this will change your life:

I'm committed to text-only information. No matter how many notes I'm writing, I can always use grep or write my own programs to find what I want.

If you're on a Mac, The Archive is great ( It's what I'm using has lots of good reading (thanks, Sascha and Christian!), but look to the other sources I've listed to get a more thorough idea of what a zettelkasten is (I call mine a thinking-box) and how to use one.

HN Books is an independent project and is not operated by Y Combinator or
~ [email protected]
;laksdfhjdhksalkfj more things ~ Privacy Policy ~
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.