Putting Information Together
If you consume a lot of information online (including blogs, articles, and other types of content), there may come a time when you want to put that information to use - perhaps in a blog post of your own, or a research paper for school.
Before you dive in, take a moment to organize your thoughts, and maybe even examine your own thought process. You have to know how to put information together in order to use it effectively (and create something that you can be proud of). In this tutorial, we're going to discuss some advice that will help you do both.
Organizing Your Thoughts
From papers to presentations, every project is different. However, the tips below should give you a good place to start. Review each one, and see how you can adapt them to your process.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
What type of work are you planning to create? Consider the implications going forward, because the process will be different depending on what you decide.
For example, if you're going to create a PowerPoint presentation, you might want to organize your content into slides that are short and to-the-point, instead of a full-page report. If you're writing a research paper for school, think about how you're going to utilize your sources. Do you want to include direct quotes, or simply incorporate their findings into your writing? Either way, you'll need to cite your sources properly.
You can also take this time to experiment with the software or method you plan to use. If you're looking for tips, try the tutorials below (which are also from our website).
Tip #2: Start an Outline
Put together a list of what you plan to cover. This part of the process will be different for everyone, depending on what you plan to create. Your outline doesn't have to be very detailed; instead, write down just enough information to help you organize your ideas, and visualize the final product.
For help creating an outline, visit How and Why to Create a Useful Outline from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).
Tip #3: Record Your Ideas
Consider printing a hard copy of your sources, so you can write notes on them by hand. Or you can download a note taking application, which will allow you to take notes (and do other useful things) directly on-screen. This type of software can also help you save and organize your notes so they're easier to find.
If you're interested in trying a note taking application, explore the options below. For a closer look at each one, review the Lifehacker article Five Best Note Taking Applications.
Tip #4: Bookmark Your Sources
There are two reasons you should always bookmark your sources. One, so you can refer back to them if you need to view the information again; and two, so you have everything you need to cite your sources properly, such as the author and web address.
You can bookmark your sources using your browser's built-in bookmarks feature (sometimes called the favorites feature). Or you can save your bookmarks online using one of the tools below. Not only do these tools give you access to your bookmarks from any computer; they can also help you organize your bookmarks, and label them using tags.
We'll take a closer look at citing your sources (and other ways to use information acceptably) later in this tutorial, under in Avoiding Plagiarism and Copyright & Fair Use.