Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Organizing Research—Electronic Files

When I first began writing, all research I did was at the library. Now with the internet, I find myself turning there first. When I find a reliable site with valuable information, I save it.

Knowing that not all internet sites are reliable, I still use books, too. I like to keep paper to a minimum, though, so scanning articles or saving them to a file are great green options.

How do you save all this research and still be able to find it when you need it? First, there is the old standby—My Favorites on Internet Explorer. Create folders and sub-folders as you need them to separate by subject. Keep the folder structure parallel to the structure in your computer files. Export your Favorites file on a regular basis to back it up.

You can also save your bookmarks to online sites. There are social bookmark sites like and, which share your bookmarks with others. Or there are sites like, which saves your favorites on the internet so you can access them anywhere from any computer.

When you come across a site with information you'd like to save, just add it to your Favorites folder.

Knowing how the internet keeps changing, and sites disappear, I like to create a backup of my pages. I copy and paste the content into a word document and save the document on my computer using the same folder structure as my Favorites. Then when the page disappears, I still have the information.

If you are the type who likes to keep paper to a minimum, then I suggest scanning any articles or book content you want to save. Rather than keeping a hard copy of the article in a file, scan it and save it. You can always print it out later if necessary. If the source is not obvious on the page, be sure to note it somewhere in the document.

You can save your research by project, or by subject. Sometimes information is needed across projects, especially if you are writing a series. These articles should be saved to a general folder. Then articles specific to a project can be saved with that project.

What are some of your favorite research sites?

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