I keep my writing notes in journal form to jot down ideas on the go, but this makes search and organization difficult, especially when my ideas cross a handful of projects. A few months ago, I came up with a color coding system to help, and so far it’s streamlined my process.  

The basic idea is to assign each of your current projects a color, and then mark a symbol beside each note that corresponds to its project and type. This lets you know at a glance which projects and types of notes for those projects are on a page. If something within the note is important, underline it with the right color. Numbering your pages and journals helps for cross-reference.

I use a 10-pack of Crayola basic markers because they don’t bleed through the journal pages. Bolder is better so you’ll be able to flip through the journals and see the symbols clearly.

This may not work for everyone, and feel free to adapt it for your own use. But it’s been a great help to me, so I thought I’d share!

2 thoughts on “Color Coding Your Writing Journals

  1. Nice. I use a less extensive color-coding system for my outline notes. Since each of my projects has its own notebook, I don’t need designations to separate them, but I color-code for incomplete ideas I need to explore further (green), ideas that are ready to transcribe as is (blue), “extra knowledge” that’s useful but doesn’t belong in the outline proper (orange), info that needs to be moved to a different spot in the outline (pink), and solid info I’ll add into the outline when I get to the appropriate spot later on (yellow). I may have to play around with some of your symbols.

  2. Sounds like a good system. Do you use different colored pens, or are these colors in Word? I don’t know if I could manage a different journal for each project, I’d have to carry eight or nine of them around!

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