Working with Quotes

Hello all,

I’ve been playing with DevonThink for a while now and understand the rudiments of the program. However, I would now like to begin using the program. I have some thoughts about what I’d like to do in DTP2, that I’ll get to in a moment, but let me first share why.

I plan to use DTP2 to manage a great many quotes both for my PhD diss and for the classes that I’m teaching as well as for the ones that I work as a TA in. In each capacity, I take a great many notes on readings–some electronic, some not. For each reading, I like to have the following information:

  1. citation (& weblink if necessary)
  2. background information
  3. summary
  4. quotes with discussion of their significance
  5. notes about where reading might be useful
  6. miscellaneous stuff.

A simple list of items would sort of work, but would not be ideal for adding discussion to the quotes. Ideally these annotations and comments would be graphically distinct from the imported quote, and in the best of all possible worlds would be set off from the quote on the note page.

Also, I’m not sure how I go about creating a set of links to all the files that discuss a single theme or topic. (For instance, how do I create a homepage for all the files related to slave narratives.)

I suspect there are a great many other academics who already have a system like this in place. I would appreciate any thoughts you could share and would doubly appreciate seeing some screen-captures of how you have structured your database.

Thanks for your time,


You might take a look at my example database, “Example Database - Associating Notes.dtBase2” at … US&lang=en

Although your workflows probably are different, you might be able to adapt some approaches.


Thanks for the suggestion. It looks useful.

Are you aware of any screencasts, other than those in Devon Academy that would walk me through DTOP 2.0?



One tactic I like to use is to change the font color when I’m speaking, versus when it’s a quote. I prefer to mostly take notes in the form of quotes, with relatively minimal commentary-- I have a very deep fear of accidentally plagiarizing that was embedded deep in my psyche by a crazy history professor in undergrad who would actually go to the library with term papers and lookup every citation. Ha!

So, I transcribe notes or cut-and-paste/drag-and-drop from PDFs in black, mark the quote with a bookends short citation, and then use red if I want commentary in that particular note file. I title the file in ALL CAPS with a title that is descriptive of what’s below (in the three pane view), and make that ALL CAPS title as the first line of the note. This is important for me for exporting notes either to Scrivener, or to have a hardcopy backup in my file cabinet of all my research files.

Anytime I scratch out a note of my own ideas as part of whatever larger project I’m doing, I generally that in a separate notes folder on the tree- and occasionally refer back to those when I’m writing to see that i’m going where I thought I needed to.

If I’m taking a note on a book or article that is particular to that book or article, I’m sure to clarify that somehow in the text. (Usually something like, “How can Astuto argue… when the literature holds… or my docs say…”

One final bit-- I keep a separate database of my teaching that is an indexed database of all my lecture notes, assigned readings, notes on those readings, photos, keynote addresses (looking forward switching to DTPO 2.0 for those). This is a huge file and on my current MacBook I can’t exactly afford the space to duplicate it as a separate database.


Thanks for the detailed post. I can see how your system would work quite well. I was a bit confused by your last paragraph however. I understand the database will all the relevant files in it and that duplicating it would take a bunch of space. (Incidentally, just how big is the thing?) But if you already have a separate database, why would you need to make another separate one?

Thanks again,


I keep most all of my files both outside and inside the database. This is on DTPO 1.5, of course. DT provides the option of indexing the files-- leaving them outside the database-- or importing files-- duplicating them, and storing them inside the database.

On my main research database, I import-capture instead of index capture. In many cases (for everything except the notes I take in Devonthink), I have copies of pdfs, manuscripts, etc. stored outside as well as inside the database. There is quite a bit of duplication there. Right now the individual research database I’m using is about 1.5G. I also export most of the text notes into files outside the database- usually as a series of .docs as redundant backups. I have to resist printing them too, actually.

My course files, all of which are stored locally on the disk and index-captured is close to 3 gigs, and growing every semester. The laptop only has less than 23gigs left-- with pretty much all music and photos already stored externally. There’s not much room for paring down, so I can’t afford to duplicate-- but I want all of my course files outside of DT-- lots of large file keynote presentations, all my online course readings that I batch upload to course sites, etc.

Bad things can happen once a harddrive gets too full, whith potential for corruption from writing temp files. This work computer won’t be replaced for a few more years, either. I do, however, have 2gigs more RAM on the way in the mail right now to speed this puppy up! :smiley:


Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this thread. If you have a few minutes, I wonder if you’d be willing to share an example of the notes you take. (Perhaps a screen capture?)

Also, I wonder if you could share with me how you go about finding a note/resource you typed a while ago and only dimly remember. At the moment, I’m using Notebook to store the notes on each of the texts I’m using in my dissertation. Finding a note is only a matter of scrolling down an outline. However, from what I can gather, most people create seperate entries for each note/quote they record. I wonder, how does one navigate such a structure efficiently?