I have been writing aphorisms for the most part of my life. Up to now, I noted them down in (real-life, paper) notebooks. From time to time I copied them to a MS-Word-file, which has now swollen to about 100 pages. To cut it short, since I keep on producing and am now also keen on arranging them into collections, sections... it would probably smart to find a better way to collect these bits.

In practice I am looking for an application, that would allow me to collect these aphorisms as single "files" or "quotes", reject duplicates, sort the "files" alphabetically, rearrange them into subcollections, and maybe most importantly: export them to printable formats like docx, odt, pdf, ...

I am aware, that most reference managers would in some way offer at least a part of these functionalities, but that which I tried are still very limited when it comes to e.g. clarity of arrangement. I hope somebody has some experience on the subject!

PS I'm on Mac OS 10.12

4 Answers 4


+1 for Evernote. It's nice, clean, easy and has a decent iOS app. It's been a while since I've used it but I believe it has all your requests. I would advise keeping on with the notebook as well. I have gadgets coming out the ears and they are great for capturing what I want to remember immediately.

I find it can be somewhat transient, however. The information is so quickly saved and filed, it does not engrave itself on my mind. I've noticed this with all kinds of note taking. So I always write out my key ideas in a mini-moleskin in addition to a digital version. There is also some part of cognition that I find looks at hand writing differently. I suspect it has to do with translation of pen strokes or something, but I will often catch myself skimming with digital source. Not so with my written 'mess.'

I use digital to create an easily browsed library. I use Neo Finder because it sorts almost anything and is just a beast. It's $40 which is a lot these days, but like I said, it does everything and it does it all well. Very powerful. Might be a bit extra for your needs, in which case, check out Evernote.


Here are some thoughts on this 6 years later:

Obsidian is an incredibly powerful and flexible application for notes and creating a digital brain. I use it myself and love it. The many plugins mean you can customise it to your needs very easily.

You could use Obsidian with the DataView plugin to create a library of your aphorisms, creating a page for each aphorism with meta data, including tags for each grouping you wanted to include the aphorism in. Then create one or more summary/collection pages and use DataView to pull in the aphorisms you want, e.g. those tagged as "abc".

And Obsidian is free for personal and one-person commercial use (but check the license for your situation!).


It wouldn't necessarily help for categorization, but a simple Excel doc could help a lot with sorting and de-duping.


I believe Evernote is an excellent tool for that. Not only you can capture snippets from every webpage or e0book, you can also organize them in tags and categories.

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