How do you summarize notes accross different sources?

Hi all, I’m a new Obsidian user. I’ve experimented with tons of various note-taking solutions in the past. I’m always running into the same general problems and I could use some advice on how to solve these:

Problem 1: Creating summaries from notes on different sources.

  • I read 3 books/papers and take detailed notes on each.
  • I might start as one note per book. If it becomes too many, I would split into multiple notes per book, collected in a folder or common tag.
  • Eventually, I need to combine my understanding of the overall topic from all these sources into one place. So I write a summary in my own words that collect things from these other sources. If it’s a huge topic, I’ll create multiple summaries on specific sub-topics.

The problem is when I’m creating the summary note, I’m torn if I should duplicate some details from the source note, or just reference it. I like the idea of having all the essential information in one place and avoid navigating back and forth between notes. Also the original notes are usually very crude and directly follow the book, even exact quotes from it. While the summary is polished and written in my own voice. So when reviewing notes, I’m much more likely to review the summary and rarely look at the source notes again. I think I lean towards duplicating essential details in the summary, but somehow that also feels wrong to me to copy/paste things.

Problem 2: Feature-based vs Problem-based notes:
This problem may not exist for everyone, depending on the subject domain. This comes up when I’m learning a programming language or software tool. I have 2 options for organizing things

  • Organize notes by feature. For example, if it’s a tool or programming language, have one note on each major feature of that tool and give a variety of example problems it helps solve.
  • Organize notes by problem. Highlight a typical problem we face, then have notes on all the different tool features and techniques that help solve that problem.

It seems to me the feature-based option will create duplication of examples. The same problem can be solved in different ways. So given 1 example problem, each feature-based note would duplicate that example (with some variation). This also obscures the relationships between the different solutions since they are in separate notes.

If it is a problem-based note, there is instead duplication of info on features. The same feature applies to many problems, so an explanation of how to use this feature gets repeated in each problem’s context.

What do you all recommend here? Maybe the solution is to have both “Problem” notes and “feature” notes, and manage links between them? Maybe even tag them this way so the relationship is clear? But again, I fear this will inevitably lead to duplication across notes.


I am struggling with the same paradigm issue albeit slightly different. I’m a product owner doing competitor research on several product features across several competitor products.

I’m also new as of a few weeks so take this with a VERY large grain of salt… but what I intend to do is make product-specific pages on each feature using my normal notes template and reference using tags (#productname/productfeature). Then I’ll distill and aggregate into a single [[product page]] and [[feature page]] by embedding blocks.

In general, I agree about the issue of duplicating information across multiple pages. I think it’s worth avoiding by way of embedding/referencing.

In your example, it seems like there’s a one-to-many relationship between problems and features so that may guide your organization.