Best practices for organizing quotes in Zotero?

edited June 15, 2019
I have read these two earlier discussions, both from 2016:

I wonder if since 2016, someone might have developed better "best practices" for organizing quotes in Zotero? (Or perhaps one should simply avoid trying to do this in Zotero?)

Right now the only way I can think of doing this is by writing each quote down as a Note that is either under a book/article or StandAlone. But perhaps there are better ways of doing this?

In particular, here are some specific problems/questions I've already run into:

1. How might I systematically enter the page number?
2. When I create a Note as a StandAlone and I can insert the "Related" book/article. But the "Year" and "Creator" fields for that Note remain blank. What do I do so that after I've entered the "Related" book/article, those fields are also automatically filled in?
  • StandAlone notes are really just that, they stand alone. I wouldn't use them for a quotes database because it does not support the automatic filling in of metadata as you need.

    Since the fundamental currency in the Zotero universe is the publication, and since quotes ideally always relate to publications (i.e. they have a published source), your best bet is indeed to use notes that are under books/articles or other published sources.

    Have a look at how ZotFile extracts annotations from PDFs for a systematic way of using notes to mark quotes that you could emulate.
  • I'll share my current workflow in hopes that people have suggestions to improve it. The problem I'm aiming to solve is how to find/organize quotes related to a given topic but from different sources.

    Every item I take notes on is a PDF or is converted to a PDF. I highlight important quotes in Acrobat and make my own notes using Acrobat's comment feature. I then use ZotFile to extract annotations. Zotfile creates a child note with the highlighted quotes in normal font and my comments in italics. It also helpfully follows every quote and comment with an in-text citation that links to the correct location in the PDF. @sofaro, that solves your problem about automatically including year and creator.

    All of the quotes and comments for a given source or are then in one large "extracted annotations" standalone child note under the parent item. Associating quotes from different sources is the current weak point in the workflow as I see it.

    In Zotero, I use the item type "Bill" (which is irrelevant to my work area) as a stand-in for topic headings. Under each topic heading, I use child notes to indicate specific subtopics, and in those child notes, I copy and paste quotes and comments from sources' extracted annotations notes. This process groups related quotes and comments together, but also retains in the note content the hyperlink from each quote or comment back to the original source, so I can easily see the context if needed.

    This method still does not allow multiple tags to be put on individual quotes in a way that would let me try different tag combinations to see what quotes might be relevant to a topic. If I put each individual quote or comment as a separate child note under a "Bill" topic heading and tag each quote as I filed it, I might be able to work something out like that. That would not allow subtopics under a more general topic heading. But I don't want to deal with thousands of individual notes in Zotero, each with just one quote, because I think it would really clutter the interface in terms of normal use of the program.

    @sofaro, the link in the extracted annotations doesn't show the page number but you can click on it to easily find the page number in the original pdf if needed.

    The system is not ideal in part because it requires a lot of manual copying and pasting and, more importantly, I have to be consciously thinking about specific topics to remember to copy and paste certain quotes into different quote collections under different topics. Ideally, anytime I found a quote that seemed vaguely relevant to different topics I could just tag it and then later find all quotes with that tag. But I think that would require storing quotes under each item, which I don't want to do.

    Anyone else want to share their ideas?
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