Highlighting and taking notes on (long-form) web articles?

Hey everyone,

I recently wanted to go through Nat Eliason’s summary of the book Atomic Habits as a refresher on the concepts of the book. I read it some time ago, but I felt that I ignored all the action items.

For distraction free reading I use my iPad (always in DND). There wer a couple of options:

  1. Read in Safari and take typed notes in Bear/1Writer or alike
  2. Read in Command Browser and highlight (similar to highlighting in the Books app), but then the highlights would be in their silo
  3. Export the whole article/summary to DevonThink (plain text, webarchive, PDF)
  4. Export the article to PDF in Notability or GoodNotes and highlight with the Pencil (again silo effect)

None of the options are satisfying.

I don‘t want to retake all the notes already captured in the book summary again manually (1. Bear/1Writer). I more so want to emphasize the notes that are important to me from the summary and accompany his existing thoughts with my own conclusions and remarks.
Having the notes scattered across many different silos (Command Browser, Notability/GoodNotes) in addition to taking typed notes in Bear or Obsidian/1Writer (on the iPad) is also not ideal.
Exporting the article als plain text and making typed text edits/expansions to it feels inaproriate, because I wouldn‘t be able to distinguish between my own thoughts and the author‘s a couple of months down the line.

What is your approach on highlighting and note taking?

Thanks a lot :slight_smile:

There’s a plugin that extracts PDF highlights for Obsidian.

You could just highlight the PDF in any software then import to Obsidian and run this. I don’t think it handles marginalia though.

My approach is to type out my notes in my own words as I find little value in highlights long-term, but that’s just me.

I’m not a big fan of highlighting PDFs. It feels passive and it doesn’t engage my brain if I just highlight. I’d still need the PDF with all the other data that I didn’t want or need.

I prefer going into split-screen mode on my iPad. Or I can have multiple windows with the main article in one window and a text editor or note taking app in another window.

I will check out the table of contents for any chapters that piques my interest. Then I’ll glance through the book to highlight certain passages. Afterwards, I’ll go back to the beginning and go to each highlight. Then I’ll type into my notes app what I pulled from the highlights. I’ll write in my own words. This seems to actively engage my brain and has me actually thinking about the highlights.

In the end, I have my personal notes with what I deemed as important at this moment in time. I’ll have stripped away all the other text except for what I want in my notes. This becomes my study notes.

In the future, I can read the book again and highlight new text passages with a different highlight color. I can go through the second read and add new notes to the same notes document.

I’ve re-read many books and I can usually get new insights that didn’t pop out in previous readings.

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