Seeking advice for differentiating original writing in my vault VS text copied from other sources

What I’m trying to do

I’m a fairly new Obsidian user and already having a wild time gathering and collecting passages of text from various blogs and other sources and then synthesizing all of these together into new original ideas and text of my own.

My question is… have people here found a really good strategy for differentiating between the original text you have written yourself VS all the various text you might have copied and ingested from someone else’s blog, website, book, etc?

I’m worried that if I don’t have a bulletproof system at this early stage in a few years time I could accidentally forget which parts of my vault I actually composed myself and inadvertently publish passages that were written by somebody else (or not credit them as sources)!

Things I have tried

  • blockquoting every paragraph I have copy/pasted into my vault and including a source credit/url
  • creating 2 copies of every note: (#1) for research and (#2) for my original writing

Thanks in advance for any help/tips/advice :slight_smile:

14k pages of similar problems here…

In my case, I usually prefaced the block of text required to be blockquoted with the author, book, page number (in MS Word) or had put some info in square brackets after their input.
I had to target these as anchors and do a lot of regular expression replacements when I knew next to nothing about regex or anything about markdown etc.

If you have no possible anchors like me, it will be manual work, which you won’t be able to spare anyway…
Especially when the comments flow into the author’s text … hard to catch these…

One plus on the whole job: what seemed like a good idea at the time, will no longer be… So you can practice scratching and commenting out stuff.

Thanks for the reply @gino_m

One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy creating blockquotes was because I found it interferes with Obsidian’s live preview (esp. for headings) and also because it makes formatting of all the text within the blockquotes that extra bit more fiddly than I would ideally like.

I’ve read that some people create a note for each quote, but this seems extreme.

Exactly.

Yeah, as I said, markdown has limitations and stuff that is not suited to my longform (for example I miss the indentations of MS Word – I also had smaller fonts for less important stuff and wanting to pepper my markdown with small HTML tags all the time is stretching it big time), but with the many custom actions I can use here I cannot go back to a dumb editor now.

Foreword:

Sourcing content is essential to me to be able to judge on reliability. It also helps to go back to the original source, in order to contextualize or correct potentially erroneous content.

That being said, here’s how I achieve that.

Example note with sources

Explanations

In the screenshot above, you can see an example of the two ways I use for citing content:

  • Quoted content (in blue)
  • Paraphrased/adapted content (in white)

Both of them have a “Source : …” line below them to cite original sources.

I can always use square brackets to add interpretation in quoted text (e.g., [some interpretation], example in screenshot below), which is a conventional editorial practice. I also use [...] to remove unnecessary intermediate text to focus on what’s interesting to me. Showing this [...] allows me to know that there is missing content that I can always recover from the original source (see example in screenshot below).

Square brackets for interpretation:
Square brackets for interpretation
Square brackets for interpretation:
Square brackets for content ellipsis

Template

Quick adds source: I have made a template (Templater), see code below.

> <% tp.file.selection() %><% tp.file.cursor() %>
> 
> Source : <% tp.file.cursor() %>

I have a keyboard shortcut, it’s also pinned in the command palette (screenshot below). You could also assign a hotkey to the “toggle blockquote” Obsidian internal command.

Bibliographic entries

Whenever I cite several times a specific paper/report/or any type of reference, I would create a new note for it in a “Bibliography” folder. Links are internal links, see above screenshot.

If my source has not been published or was told to me, I add the internal link “Personal communication” (see screenshot below).

Appearance

The “Source : …” line is small in reading and preview mode deliberately. Indeed, it’s not the first class information. I want to be able to keep it visible, while not being disturbing comparing to the actual main content.

To achieve that, I made a plugin (unpublished) to assign a CSS class to this line. Then I can use custom CSS (snippets) to make the line smaller and faded out compared to normal content.

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Are you publishing or writing in an academic setting?

I also think having a note for each quote is excessive, but I use a note for each source. That could be a book, article, website, whatever.

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thanks for the replies @nicolas.lienart and @ReaderGuy42

I’ll definitely look at these options @nicolas.lienart

p.s. I’m not in an academic setting, but hoping to publish some digital literacy, guides on modular synthesis and principles of graphic design books in the near future.

…and I see your point about a note per source @ReaderGuy42 - does that principle also include youtube videos and blog articles?

Thanks

It’s Obsidian, you can do what ever you want with it :slight_smile:
Obviously text is going to be easier to work with, i.e. copying passages of text from wherever, but you can also embed a video and then type the quote you want to remember.

Also remember to add pagenumbers, timestamps or another way to remember the location of the quote, otherwise you later have to look for it again. Only the title of the book/video/article/blog doesn’t do you much good.