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Re: [O] using org-refile to sort research notes?

From: Richard Lawrence
Subject: Re: [O] using org-refile to sort research notes?
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2014 17:54:37 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.4 (gnu/linux)

Hi Jay,

Jay Dixit <address@hidden> writes:

> Hello friendly org-mode community,
> I'm using org-mode to research and write a nonfiction book. I have a large
> amount of notes and quotes that I now need to sort into separate files.
> I am creating separate org files, one for each chapter of my book—
> chapter-1.org, chapter-2.org, etc.—with org headings in each one for every
> topic/subsection.
> I now want to categorize my notes, moving them from where they are—i.e. in
> a set of long, unorganized org files with names like new-research.org and
> more-research-and-notes.org—into the the chapter files.
> 1. Am I right in thinking that org-refile is the most efficient way to do
> this?

That sounds right to me.

> 2. What's the best way to do this? Should I add all of my chapter.org files
> to the agenda using org-agenda-file-to-front? I ask because these are not
> TODO headings, just headings with notes and quotes, so I'm not sure if
> using org-agenda functionality is appropriate.

Rather than adding these files to the agenda, I would have a look at the
`org-refile-targets' variable.  This variable tells Org where to look
for entries to refile under.

If this is a one-time operation, you may be able to just set the
variable a few times: adjust the variable to point to your chapter-1.org
notes heading, then refile all those notes; then point it to your
chapter-2.org notes heading, then refile all those notes...; etc.  This
will make it super easy to get the right refile target.

> Thanks in advance for any advice.

I don't know what led you to choose the new file layout that you're
moving to, but here is an alternative that you might also consider.

Make your project into just two files, say book.org and notes.org; the
first contains the text of the book, while the second contains the notes
and tasks for each chapter.  One advantage of this setup is that it
would allow you to organize your notes in whatever way is most natural
to them, rather than by chapter.  You can then use tags to associate
notes with chapters.  If for example you have some quotes that belong
together but are relevant to both chapters 1 and 2, you can have them in
a single entry in notes.org, tagged with :ch1:ch2:.  Likewise for tasks:
if some tasks require you to modify multiple chapters, you just tag them
multiple times.  (Links may also be helpful in this setup.)

I used to have a setup a lot like the one you described, but I found
that tags allowed me to organize my notes and tasks with much more
flexibility than using a tree-like hierarchy.  There's always the
question of where some note belongs when you can only file it in one

I now use the two-file setup for writing my dissertation.  I keep tasks
and notes about readings I do in one file, with tags to associate them
with chapters and so on, and do my actual writing in another file.  This
keeps both types of information clean and organized, but I can move
easily between them.


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