One of the most important
parts of research writing is taking careful notes -- with accurate information about the source of the notes and concepts you're planning to use in your papers.
Citation's system for handling research notes is modeled on the way most people collect materials for their research notes. Almost everyone goes through source works the same way: we find a passage we think is important, or a quote we might want to use in our papers, and we either check it in the margin or underline the text. Then when we're done reading, we go back through the text, and find a way to record the passages we've marked. Some people use notecards, some people use spiral notebooks, others use their word processors. We're going to learn how to do this with Citation.
Citation's Notes feature is, really, a much more efficient way to handle this portion of the research writing process. Citation can help you organize all those passages in the books and articles you've been reading so that you can find them quickly - and be able to cite the source work automatically.
So let's take a few moments to learn how to enter note records in your Citation datafile (it's important to remember that we are going to store the bibliographic records and note records in the same datafile).
Before we start, you'll need to locate some materials again: find a book or article you've read recently - only this time look for one that has passages marked, or notes in the margins. (If you don't have one of these handy, use the examples on the web in
When you've found the book or article, thumb through it until you find the first passage you've marked.
Found it? Ok. Let's enter a note record for this excerpt.
The first step in entering a research note with Citation is to make sure you have a
bibliographic record for the source work.
- Open your Citation datafile.
- Find the bibliographic record for the article or book
with the marked passages. Or, if you don't have one already entered,
enter it now.
Tip: you can locate bibliographic records easily
in Citation by using the
Short List View - just click View, Short
List, locate the work in the table, and double click to go to the record.
When you have the bibliographic record on your screen, click the Add Note
(in the bottom right hand corner of the Citation edit screen).
A blank note record will display, with the CiteKey from the source work*
(so you can cite the source for the excerpt automatically) in the first field.
The first thing you want to do when you add a Note record in Citation is to
replace the PG placemarker with the page on which your excerpt is located.
The CiteKey for the note should now look something like this: Smith 1999: 2
Click to see an example
- Now you can type in the excerpt or quote, and any comments you want
to make about it (I like to use this field to indicate where I think
it will fit in my essay). You can add keywords, too, to help you group this note with
other notes on similar issues.
- Add note records for each of the marked passages in the work (be careful
to include the specific page reference!).
- When you've finished, go to the next work, and enter the bibliographic record.
Then enter a few notes for the highlighted passages.
Citation has a convenient feature that lets you write notecards for all the
records in your datafile. You can even tell the program to write notecards
for only those notes you have on a specific topic.
You probably don't have a lot of notes yet, but let's give this a try anyway.
You'll want to use it later when you're getting ready to draft the outline for
your paper, so it's a good idea to get an idea of what you're going to do with
all the notes you enter.
- Open a blank document in your word processor.
- On the Citation menu, click Generate, Notecards
- Set the options to your preference. You can print notecards for the
bibliographic records in your datafile, the notecards, or both. And you
can set the Select portion of the dialog to look in a particular field
for a specific term.
Now the only thing left to do before taking the next lesson is getting to work on
that stack of books and articles!
In lesson four, after you've got a few more records in your datafile, we'll learn
how to group your notes by subject - and how to write notecards.
In the next lesson (3), we're going to learn how to write bibliographies and
cite sources in papers.
When you're ready to move on - here's the next lesson in the EasyGuide:
Lesson 3: Citing sources in papers
*You might ask, when you do this, why the CiteKey from the bibliographic record
appears in the first field (the CiteKey field) of the Note record.
Good question! The reason is simple:
the CiteKey is a unique identifier for the bibliographic record that can
be used to cite the work in a document. You'll use this same key to cite the source for
a note taken from that work.