How do you use Tinderbox to takes notes in lectures and process textbooks?

Hi there! New user, I recently finished the getting started with tinderbox guide and I’m ready to put this great app to use.

I wanted to know what are your workflows when you take lectures or you are processing a textbook? Right now that would be my main use of Tinderbox. Also for example, when you are in a lecture or reading something, some tasks can pop up in your mind (like “I need to research this”) or maybe a lecturer gives some assignments, do you store them also in Tinderbox?

Thank you.


Hey Julio, great question! taking lecture notes and processing textbooks is a very personal process for sure. Here is my approach.

Personally, I use markdown and my own flavors of it to take and annotate my notes. For instance, as I’m taking notes, I’ll use # (a heading 1) or ## (a heading 2) etc. to call out important topics. I’ll use * and - to create bullets and sub-bullets. As I write, I prefix particular lines with "Tsk- " to call out a comment that I later want to turn into task (I’ll use @ to designate on owner, if need be). I’ll use **TEXT** to bold things or _italic_ to italic things. In addition to the hashes, I may use other designators, like § or † to set particular lines of of text apart from others. Depending on the work, I may use color highlights to visually add to the notes, e.g., blue, red, green, and yellow. Hotkeys are especially helpful for this. This style of notes goes for lectures and textbooks. If the textbook is digital, the highlighting is especially useful (check out my videos on this and other topics: Mastering Tinderbox: Training Videos (Complete List)).

I’m a judicious user of attributes; this helps me repurpose my notes and content. On this note, I have Tinderbox create notes based on the values I have in the attributes and link them to my notes, especially for people, places, events, entities, and terminology. I can then find the notes that are interrelated to these concepts.

KEY POINT: I’ll use whatever I have at hand to capture my notes, paper, email, Notes, Drafts, and occasionally Tinderbox. I’ll pull these notes into Tinderbox and then explore at the desingators (#, ##, §, †, Tsk- ) to create individual notes.‘’

Key to all of the above is finding the personal workflow and action code that works best for you.

I’d be happy to have a call with you if you’d like a private demo of my workflow. You can also join us for the weekly public weekend meetups or during my private TBX patron sessions.

Enjoy your Tinderbox journey. It is a wild ride. :slight_smile:


My conference notes sound close to what you have in mind. Here’s some things I currently do:

  • Each conference is its own document. After the conference, I may copy some notes to other places, such as the Tinderbox roadmap or my Projects list.

  • I typically take notes in map view, inside a container called Notes.

  • Each session is fenced off with an adornment.

  • At the top of the adornment, I have a note with the title of the session and another note with the speaker. The speaker typically inherits from the built-in People prototype.

  • I make a prototype “a comment” for my own reactions. It typically uses the left tag shape and a contrasting color. Most comments go to the right of the adornment, and notes on the presentation go on the left.

  • At the far left of the map view, I have a space for tasks that need to be done. Often, this would be things like “Ask Professor Klingsworth of they’re free for lunch” or “Find the student who did the coding for Klingsworth’s demo and ask how they got such great performance.” Sometimes, these include Tinderbox feature I wish I had!

  • At the top of the map I make a transparent adornment with the event title.

  • Above that big transparent adornment, I put general observations about the event and notes on things that happen outside of sessions.


Hi thanks for sharing your approach. I liked your approach about the “Tsk-” for tasks, because most of the time my mind is like running at almost a 100% (I have autism coupled with ADHD) and I need to quickly write down my tasks in the same environment I’m using to write my notes, this I wish will be Tinderbox. Later I’d process the tasks into a more comprehensible list of actionable items or maybe a mindmap of items.

For example, last month I was reading “ADHD Pro - Robert Merki” and there is a lot of actionable advice in there that just ended being highlighted and now I have to go the book again to create my list of tasks, which will make me really put into action what the author is advising. Another time I was reading “Effective Notetaking - Fiona McPherson”, I finished the book and again I couldn’t apply what the author said because I didn’t have a set of actionable items to use. Notes are not enough I need to se ACTIONS TO DO.

At the moment I’m taking a diploma on Private Practice Management, because I want to manage better my private veterinary clinic. Now I am frustrated because every lecture there are some actionable items the teacher says that are like implicit in the lecture, and I have a huge mess of notes that just thinking about sorting them and seeing what from there is actionable makes me anxious. I wanted at the end of this diploma to have aside from my normal notes, a complete set of actions, maybe organized in a mind map that could let me implement everything I learned step by step and remain there as a template for maybe when if I’m lucky I can branch out to other places.

In the end I’d move this tasks to another visual app like Hyperplan where I can sort things out by urgency in an Eisenhoiwer Matrix and lastly grab them to a simple task manager like Things or a plain physical agenda to push through the day. I know my system is hectic but that’s because I’m just starting to sort this things out now that my medication is helping me to focus and GTD.

I chose Tinderbox because it is highly visual, you can transform visualization of your notes in several ways and it mimics how my visual brain likes to think and see information. I didn’t like other popular note taking apps because their style is too generic, while you can see the craftmanship inside Tinderbox.

I appreciate the invitation to see your workflow, I’m from Mexico, so we’ll have to sort the schedule and time conversion. Regarding the public weekend meetups, I’m looking forward to the next one, thank you.


Regarding your project list? Is it also inside your tinderbox? I’m planning to use only tinderbox and when I’m on the move just write things in my tablet (supernote) or apple notes (ios).

I like the idea of the container in the map view, that’s how my brain works instead of an outline, which of course is helpful in other cases, but not when I’m trying to sort things out and organize them.

Thanks for sharing your workflow, but can you share maybe a screenshot of a demo map view? I’m finding it interesting but at the same time too abstract for me to visualize.

Thank you.

For conferences and lectures, I use a similar flow as @eastgate in organizing where I want my notes to end up, and then I use my notation style noted above to take my notes.

As part of my pre, I pull the sessions and speaker names from an event public site. I paste those into a TBX and then explode them; that way, I have the container I need for creating all the notes.

Also, unlike Mark, I do a lot of my work in one larger TBX file…that way I can great reusable assets (notes) across different programs or events.

I then use my action code to explode and parse my notes (I have TBX automatically populate attributes, assign prototypes, and link notes).

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Thanks for sharing more details. I have a lecture to attend in a couple of hours, I’ll see how it goes :slight_smile: I don’t expect to do anything complicated at this point, just add some notes in the map view and maybe some links :slight_smile:

You might find it interesting to watch some of the videos that Bryan Jenks has made about working with ADHD and autism, such as this (he uses Obsidian, not Tinderbox, but he is a thoughtful researcher – and he even recently posted a video of him working on a book on autism to demonstrate his method – I think he is worth knowing about, and some of his ideas might be transferable to Tinderbox):


Here is part of an old Conference Notes project that I happen to have handy.


Big fan of Bryan, I’m actually in his discord with more neurodivergent people. His videos motivated me to try tinderbox, because I don’t like obsidian and I wanted to do something similar.

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Thank you

Fascinating workflow, seems like a real interesting candidate to guest at a Meetup.

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Definitely, we should invite him. I think he’ll agree to comer over and teach us his workflow. If you guys want I can ask him over Discord.

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Sure. My email is .

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Sent you an email :slight_smile:

I’ve reached out to Bryan through his website and invited him to a future meetup.

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I have come to this thread a little late, and sorry if this is not as coherent as it should be, but what fascinates me about your method is the granularity (if that is the right word) of your note taking. Am I right that when taking notes on someone’s presentation, every new idea goes in a separate note, even if that note contains only a single word or phrase. This makes me curious about whether there is an optimal level of granularity in your notes and whether it is linked to the way you process the notes later on. Or is the brevity of your notes only apparent because you are displaying only the titles, and are hiding the text of each note?

What makes me ask about this is that the way I would naturally write notes is to have one note for each presentation/article read or whatever (I am assuming that what you say about taking notes on conference presentations applies equally to taking notes on articles and books). If I am taking notes I want everything I write to be linked to the source (for an article, the bibliographic data, which I will have imported into TB), which is why I tend to write one note per source. Some notes end up being quite long, containing multiple ideas. The reason for this is that I want all the ideas in that note to be linked to the source (to the bibliographic data). If an article contains 20 ideas, I do not want to have to write out the bibilographic data 20 times, hence my habit of putting everything in a single note.

Are you using adornments to indicate the presentation/session so that individual notes can pick up attributes from the adornment? Or is the main reason that your method makes it easier to process the notes so as to organize them in a different ways (for example picking out ideas common to different presentations)? This makes me wonder whether the degree of granularity in your notes is related to the way you process them afterwards.

So, switching towards what I tend to do, would it be possible to create a note by dropping in a bookends reference, and then convert that into an adornment (of a specified size, color and other properties), so that I could then take notes in the way you take notes on conference presentations, with the notes picking up the bibliographic data from it? (Presumably using the OnAdd attribute.) It would presumably be possible to have notes in a container pick up attributes of the container, but adornments have the advantage that you can display the notes over them more easily.


That’s correct; my default note sizes don’t show text.

But often a very brief note is all for which I have time