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ZakSmith

How do people capture questions and space for answers when writing notes

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Hi everyone, 

I work in software and do a lot of note taking about client workflows, feedback etc. 

I tend to write notes as a way of describing what i've observed, or I am hearing which means that notes are a mix of declarative statements (e.g. "this happens like that") interspersed with questions (e.g. "But why does this happen like that?"). 

I would like a method of capturing these questions as I take notes that: 

  • Is clean and tidy. I.e. formatted in a way that makes the questions easily distinguishable from the statements 
  • Is quick. I.e. achievable using a hotkey or some form of 3rd party automation e.g. Alfred
  • Allows me to maintain context. I.e. The question is either positioned next to related statements, or at the very least linked to the statements

So far, the best thing I can come up with is: 

  • Capture a question using a checkbox 
  • Indent a bullet point under the question to create space for the answer 

However, this is very messy (see attached screenshot).

What are the innovative ways that people deal with this?  

 

Screenshot 2019-07-10 at 09.51.03.png

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Hi.  I can think of lots of reasons not to use Evernote for this sort of thing - not least because the 'owner' of the account has no reliable way to know that someone has posted a question or a comment in order to respond in a timely way.  Choice of the 'right' software would also depend on the computer literacy of your users and how many separate clients and users there would be for the information.  A Wiki (example: https://www.freeplane.org/wiki/index.php/Home) has discussion pages which might be the most accessible and conversation-like presentation,  while helpdesk or fault-reporting software like Zoho would be more professional.  It would be better to have a shopping list of essential features and compare these against available softwares to create a shortlist of possible applications.

At the super-simple and super-cheap (ie free) end of things,  there's also Google Docs where you could share help documents and allow users to add subsequent comments,  though again you have a problem knowing when and where changes have been made...

On basic admin principles I'd prefer to be advised of - and respond to - queries by email,  then I'd amend help documentation in light of comments received.  It's less confusing for a user,  who might otherwise see out-of-date answers to queries that have already been dealt with,  or need to read through a couple of pages of comments before getting to a quick-and-easy resolution. 

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Maybe take a look at the Cornell-Template in the Templates section, and derive something from this.

It is designed more for students, but maybe the structure of information, key findings, open ends and things to follow up is similar.

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5 hours ago, ZakSmith said:

makes the questions easily distinguishable from the statements 

I used highlighted/coloured text for my followup questions; indented text for extensive followup notes

>>note taking ... What are the innovative ways that people deal with this?  

Is this an Evernote question?

I use the Evernote editor for basic notes, but use dedicated editors for serious work.  The documents are stored in Evernote as note attachments.

Notability is my favourite note taking app on an iPad.

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On 7/10/2019 at 4:00 AM, ZakSmith said:

I work in software and do a lot of note taking about client workflows, feedback etc.

I am in a very similar environment, so I encounter the same need.

On 7/10/2019 at 4:00 AM, ZakSmith said:

I would like a method of capturing these questions as I take notes that: 

  • Is clean and tidy. I.e. formatted in a way that makes the questions easily distinguishable from the statements 
  • Is quick. I.e. achievable using a hotkey or some form of 3rd party automation e.g. Alfred
  • Allows me to maintain context. I.e. The question is either positioned next to related statements, or at the very least linked to the statements

I suppose that "clean and tidy" is in the eye of the beholder.

When I look at your example, which you call "very messy", I do not see why you consider it messy.
743582130_Screenshot2019-07-10at09_51_03

  • It seems well organized to me
  • The questions are clearly marked, without adding any real clutter
  • The only thing I can think of that might help would require a feature not in Evernote: Collapsible/Folding text sections.

Can you please show us an illustration, using any tool, of what you would consider "clean and tidy"?

I have been using a very similar layout to capture Q&A within my Notes.  The only thing that I do that is somewhat different is that if the question requires an extensive answer, then I generally put both the Q&A in a separate Note, and just include the Note Link in my main set of notes.

 

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