Seeking workflow advice

I’m just completing my first semester of my first undergrad degree.
One thing I have been doing is building my own chemistry & medical glossaries. I realise this is kind of redundant as I have added medical terms to my mac’s dictionary app but I found it handy to be able to use a block reference link to the term in the glossary from my note so I could refresh my memory if needed, without involving another app or navigating away.

Two things I have grown to dislike about this:

  1. it’s kinda time-consuming to open the glossary, navigate to the alphabetical-ordered space in the note for the new term, enter the new term & it’s meaning with a little formatting, go back to the original note and then link to the block reference.
  2. I have no way of distinguishing in my notes which links are to other notes and which are to glossary entries.

So, I had an idea to make the definitions more explicit in my notes, perhaps using the new callout feature.

a polyol compound of oxygen & hydrogen

Then I had the idea to somehow use inline metadata to create the definition, like;

Definition:: Glycerol - a polyol compound of oxygen & hydrogen

and then see if I could get Dataview to collect all the definitions scattered throughout my notes & render them on a page, in a list or table;


Glycerol - a polyol compound of oxygen & hydrogen

So I would have a dynamically updating glossary, that could possibly be segmented by tags #chemistry #medical #practise etc

But, I haven’t used inline Dataview before & while I can return a list of notes that contain Definition:: in them I haven’t been able to return a list of the values of the definitions.

I’d love to hear some opinions from the community about this. End of semester 1 is an opportunity to evolve my workflow & do any refactoring needed before the vault gets too large.



An alternate way to collect definitions scattered throughout a vault would be to tag them #definitions, then embed a search in the glossary page:

tag: #definitions

If the definitions aren’t too long, the search result previews will show them whole (and if they are too long, you can click thru).

Or you could embed a search for the DataView syntax:


In fact, if you did that you could probably use a regular expression to match the whole definition (like everything thru the end end of the line), which might force the search previews to show the whole thing (altho then the whole definition will be highlighted).

It feels wrong to me to store glossary definitions scattered all over your vault (it’s not necessarily wrong). Would keeping the glossary open in another pane reduce the friction of adding to it? To quickly navigate you can search in the page (Ctrl/Cmd-F) for the new term — the file will scroll to the closest match as you type. (Maybe this is still too much friction for you — I’m not judging you if it is. :slight_smile: )

Hi, and thanks for your reply. I took a break for a few weeks at the end of semester and am now getting ready for semester 2.
Your first suggestion is simple & hadn’t occurred to me as I don’t use tags very much.

Your second suggestion works quite well, although it sorts alphabetically by note title, not the term being defined and it also doesn’t render markdown in the preview.

I agree with you about having definitions scattered everywhere but I need to balance the friction of maintaining the glossary.

I can link to the bloody dictionary!

Ok, thanks again for your response. No need for me to maintain my own glossary now


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