DT, DTTG, Journalling and reading progress

I am reading more and more books these days and I’ve taken to adding my basic progress to my daily journal. I have tags for authors and genres but I think I want to add to that.
If I want to track books I have read and have an entry in my journal that references or links to a separate record for each book and maybe some notes I have taken about that book, what are people doing for this?
Would Bookends be overkill?
I read hard copies, almost always checked out of the local library.
Any suggestions welcomed.

I use a separate record for each book/article
added to my task management process via tag/label
. !Project-ReadingList
. Status (pending/active/completed/…)
. Due-Date (optional)

My current task list is simply a filtered note list
and includes reading selections


I’m even more basic than @DTLow. Most of my read books have handwritten notes done with OneNote, and lastly Noteshelf instead of GoodReader, a text note in MD, or a real-handwritten note into a real Life 1.0 paper notebook and then scanned with any document scanner I find under my fingers and exported to PDF without OCR, as handwritten OCR is not possible with any tool.

Those notes go to a folder called, ahem, “Resumen de libros” (“Books Summary”) and/or “Notas sobre libros” (“Annotations about books”) depending on if it is a summary and personal impressions or contains book excerpts, screen or photo captures or some investigations. All of this into a database with all my other paperwork, investigations, literary crap like started but never ended novels/stories, and third party finished writings.

And finally, I have a “‘Current-Year’ Read Books” MD file in my global inbox to listing, by months, my readings, that go about 150-170 books/year plus magazines. Once the year ends, I move it into the previous database and start one new file.

Over the years, I have listings in Word/rtf, pure texts and lastly MD files. Originally database content was in a local folder, then in a cloud folder, then in a cloud folder indexed with DT and finally, into a DT database.

(And as a matter of curiosity, my professional writing started with Office documents (*), continued in Scrivener and ended in Word one more time because there is a significant IA helper in latest Office tools, and most of the Scrivener exclusivities I used to be, are available in Word as well. Once I finish something, I save it into DT --Do not work directly from DT).

(*) Well, WordStar in CP/M years, moved into text and sent to MS-DOS PC via serial port :face_with_peeking_eye:, and then into WordPerfect and finally Office.


Your definition of basic seems to be different than mine. :grin:

For acquiring basic bibliographic details of a book, without getting drawn into the business of DOI (obviously not applicable to print books) are people using separate apps or a service that can generate text imported into DEVONThink?
My own research into this matter gets sidetracked by all the academic and technical research and writing software stacks that, while fascinating to read about, are beyond my needs.
I’m thinking I make a record for each book, populate it with basic bibliographic information and the dates I read it and maybe add any notes or thoughts I have about that book. Then in my daily journal an entry that links to the book record and a noting of the pages I read that day.

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This is a wise and astute observation people would do well to consider. :slight_smile:

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I needed to replace my Franklin paper planner because it was too large (8.5" x 5.5" x 1.75") in daily use. Settled on Jibun Techo Biz planner for weekly and monthly scheduling, but how do I replace it for daily work notes that can get rather long and detailed (like an engineer’s notebook) and personal notes?

Tried KeepIt and Diarly; sync process was too complicated with KeepIt for Evernote-sized sync tasks and Diarly was useful, but the developer keeps adding boutique features I don’t need.

Fought formatting issues due to well-known mobile API deficiencies (no native RTF support). Gave up and I am keeping my daily notes simply as plain text files in DT and DTTG, Group is named “Daily Journal” each note is titled with ISO date alone (yyyy-mm-dd) so they sort properly.

I keep the 14 or so files that require formatting in Pages, then export to PDF and sync to Remote database for mobile reference after editing. DT and DTTG handle PDF display so well.

I don’t sync everything I have; I sync only what I need on the road. The older I get, I have to be ruthless and keep my work processes as simple as possible so I can focus on what I need to do to fix my clients’ computers.

Devonthink is the filing cabinet for all my notes; planner/journal/daily/weekly/monthly/personal/…

require formatting in Pages, then export to PDF and sync to Remote database for mobile reference after editing. DT and DTTG handle PDF display so well.

DT and DTTG also handle Pages display well

daily notes simply as plain text files in DT and DTTG, Group is named “Daily Journal” each note is titled with ISO date alone (yyyy-mm-dd) so they sort properly.

I use Pages format
No group but tagged !Journal-NoteDaily
Likewise with the date prefix; example 2022-07-08 Journal [:green_circle:2022.189 Friday]

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Know the feeling. Retired my Daytimer (same size as yours) when using DEVONthink as described by @DTLow. I don’t name files with ISO date prefix as can sort by any of the dates already provided in DEVONthink and the macOS, e.g. Modified, Created, etc. which is good enough for me. Sometimes I put time stamps in the text (with an Alfred Snippet), though, when appropriate.

I really like Book Track ‎Book Tracker: Bookshelf log on the App Store

How do you use DT as a weekly/monthly planner?

I like paper, because it’s so fast to write a client’s name and the date and time is position-dependent.

It’s harder to edit Pages documents on the phone; I’d rather take notes on what to change in which document and edit on my computer.

I don’t actually do weekly/monthly planner stuff

My daily planner process is a note time-blocking my day
It’s created each morning from a template; and I insert entries after reviewing my calendars and task list

I use DT for project/task management via project/task notes tagged as required:
. Project Id (optional)
. Due-Date (optional)
. Status (pending/active/completed/…
My task list is simply a filtered note list; sorted in due-date sequence
I export the task list to a spreadsheet for a gantt calendar view
Periodic project reviews to keep things on track; again filtered note lists

It’s harder to edit Pages documents on the phone

No phone; but I use an iPad tablet
I find it easier doing intensive stuff on my Mac desktop; a Mac Mini with duo monitors

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My system isn’t complex, but it’s probably not enough for what you need.

So I log what I’ve finished on a Numbers spreadsheet. That’s just a literal list: date, author, book title. I’ve kept this running list since I was 18 (I am now…. Not 18 :grimacing:). It was originally an Excel file before I embraced the ways of Apple.

This spreadsheet doesn’t do much except list things and I don’t look at it much except to check if/when I read something.

The actual interesting things happen in my notes, which nowadays are in DT.

I keep a weekly log in DT, and in each day’s note I record what book I’ve been reading (or not).

For actual book notes, I store them in DT and they are tagged “book note” (they are markdown). I also have a naming convention of “Author - Title (my notes)” (this is to distinguish from any PDFs I have of books). I put quotes and my comments in the same file. I highlight quotes and then write plain for my thoughts. Mostly I leave the quotes in the order I read them, but occasionally I rearrange the quotes in the file into specific groups with headings that are relevant to me.

If it’s a huge book or something super specific to my field, I might break up individual points into separate book notes. They’re tagged the same but I tend to consider them “secondary” to the main book notes doc, and I tend to just name them “author surname” and then the topic of the note.

I don’t link my book notes to my weekly log, but of course I could if I wanted (I’m lazy and can’t be bothered).

Re citations, I actually just write a full citation in the main book note at the top. I do read a lot of paper books, but even for Kindle and PDF they don’t list a ready made formatted citation, and I find it easier to just write it myself. Plus I like the little exercise of looking up the publishing year in the inside page and a noting if it’s a reprint, etc.

If I was actually going to use the book as a reference for something I have the citation ready, and I’d move it to a citation manager then. Otherwise, it’s all just notes in my database waiting for me. I can search by author, or filter on my “book notes” tag.

One thing I think I would share with other people is that I used to keep my book notes separate from other notes in a group of their own, and I don’t now. My database is arranged by topic, and my book notes are filed in each topic rather than in a group of their own kind. It was a silly distinction and it works much better to have the book notes about trees in the group about trees, and just trust the tag.


I would trust a tag “topic-trees”
and btw each tag is also a group

Thanks for everyone’s input. I’ve been poking around and reading about basic bibliographic records.
I am experimenting with having one markdown record per book in a group called “Books” that exists outside of the Journal group. The format I am starting with is this:

Author:Butler, Octavia E.
Publisher:Seven Stories Press
Published:December 2021
Genres:Science fiction

After all that I can add my notes from my reading and even type out quotes should that urge ever strike me. My daily journal entry would link to this record on the days that I read it.
I got the first seven lines from isbnsearch.org and the genres from my local public library’s website.
My first thoughts when coming up with this is that there must be a way to get more information about a book in a text format readymade from a site or service and another thought, that @MsLogica touches on, that it’s good to compile the information oneself and edit as you go.

The US Library of Congress can spit out a record but they’re in MARC or XML format and not human readable, and maybe they have TOO much info in them but who knows, in a few years it might be helpful to have all that info when going back to see what I was reading during this strange period we are living through.

The flexibility of Devonthink means I can make my records in whatever way I choose and as long as the records are mine and are only ever referenced by me, in my databases, it doesn’t really matter what form they take. But there is a slight twinge at the back of my neck when I think about the amount of effort put into the standardization of data and the tiny chance that someone will need to access my data and curse me for my band-aid and rubber bands solution. That twinge will eventually stop though.

Do you have an iPhone? If so, you don’t need to type up any book quotes yourself. You can just point your camera at the text and then copy and paste it into your note.

If it’s only a sentence, I still type it out because it feels quicker, but if I’d like to quote a paragraph or a few sentences I just do this.

Caveat is that the iPhone OCR thing maintains line breaks. Now in markdown this isn’t a problem because they don’t render, but I am finicky so I do edit the text once I’ve pasted it to remove the line breaks (also the highlighting in markdown won’t work if there are line breaks in the quote).


Just for fun I will share a different flow. I use DT strictly as backing database/search tool. Not as a notetaking tool.

My tool chain:

  • DT - archive
  • Readwise for exporting highlights
  • Obsidian Notetaking
  • Day One as journal - I used to journal in Obsidian

I read many books as Kindle, some as ePub. As I read I highlight interesting passages. I export the highlights via Readwise to Obsidian (I gather it supports Roam etc). I write my own notes to a separate file in Obsidian (so that Readwise doesn’t have sync problems). So for each book, I have highlights and then my own takeaways.

PDFs I read in DT are highlighted and exported the same way.

I don’t track the books I read by day/week in my reviews because I would embarrassed at the small number.

My favourite notetaking tools are: Notability app with an iPad and Apple Pencil
I start with handwriting
During review, I convert to type, add formating, …
When completed, I export to pdf format

Well as I think I said in my own reply I use Obsidian, but I get that other people like other tools.

Well, good question. I track my reading on Goodreads (after Booklikes shut down). I also track on Literal.club, with the intention to maybe stop using Goodreads. This is mostly for fiction books.

If I write notes for fiction books, they either go to Literal.club as well in the beginning (because easy to do there). If so, I grab them after reading the book and put them into one or several Note Zettels in my Zettelkasten in DT. All of these note zettels will then be added as links to the source zettel I’ll set up.

For most nonfiction books I do notes in any case, for the entire reason for reading them is to be able to learn something and KEEP it: a source note and maybe several content notes (zettels). I might even transluce them all and do a write up to post somewhere, either to friends or my blog or wherever.

I keep a running list (author title, possibly a paragraph or too) in a text file (.rtf). I add the file to DevonThink at the end of one year, start of the next. I also use the online site LibraryThing to track my book inventory. You can also use it to track reading, including the dates you started or finished a book. you can make your account/data private. Each book has its own URL. You can export your data in a delimited text file, compatible with any spreadsheet.

You can add books by hand (searching the database for author and title, or entering an ISBN) or scan the ISBN bar code with a smartphone camera.

Many people use the Goodreads site to track reading. I don’t like their user polices (lots of harassment, trolling of authors).

Bookends is overkill. Also, getting data out of Bookends is tricky.

I track bibliographic data in a spreadsheet, currently.

I’m reading about DevonThink template creation, in terms of creating a template for books, with publication/citation data, a field for a comment, or summary, and tags. You could certainly add a date for when you read the book.

ETA: I know that there is a table-like book template in DT already.