Writers, editors, researchers, students, and anyone who has a need to use documents and spreadsheets could benefit from trying out color-coded notes. Whenever you are working with complicated information, color can make your efforts more effective and enjoyable.
Why Color-coded Notes Are Better
We digest and use information much more efficiently when it is organized. Sometimes we need to link similar ideas together. At other times, we need to separate items. Either way, it’s important to retrieve a fact or point quickly. If we have a system in place to connect or highlight information strategically, we can spend our time learning and thinking rather than laboriously searching.
Also, color stimulates the creative part of our minds as Kevin Purdy illustrates in the post, How Color-Coded Notes Make You A More Efficient Thinker. It encourages our brains to process the information more thoroughly and to be innovative with ideas, so we think better whether it’s for school, work, or hobbies.
Colors are pleasing to our eye, so instead of looking at a boring document in black and white, we can look at something that naturally makes us happy. This added bit of a fun is a lifesaver for studying, work, and finance.
Ideas For Using Color-coded Notes
#1. Highlighting important facts and ideas within a body of text.
#2. Using different colored fonts to make a clear distinction between information on two different topics or different angles of a topic.
#3. Labeling instances of a certain word, number, or fact with highlighting or colored text.
#4. Marking your place in a large body of text or spreadsheet by highlighting it with a bold color so you can find it again on a follow-up reading.
#5. Using different colored fonts to mark bits of information from different sources so you can move the text all around your document for planning purposes without forgetting where the information came from.
#6. “Graying out” words and lines while editing so you can go back and read the text later without the words and see if you want to keep or delete them.
#7. Marking headers in a very word-heavy document.
#8. Making spreadsheets easier to read.
Tips For Using Color-coded Notes
Don’t go overboard with your colors. James M. Gentile and Donna McCormac-Condon discuss the importance of this point in this guide for students on color-coded notes, and I have also found it to be true. You may notice in my photo to illustrate #7, I didn’t use color for the paragraphs. There is a clear distinction between the headers, paragraphs, and notes that is both pleasing and helpful to the eye. The whole point of using color is to draw attention to something. If everything is colored, then they all lose their ability to attract attention.
Use the colors that work for you. If you always associate green with money, then maybe you’ll always want to use to green to highlight topics and facts regarding money so your brain will instantly recognize it. Maybe you like pastel or bold colors. You might also alternate these depending on the type of information you are working with. Sometimes you may need contrast, while at other times, less contract works well. When I created the inspiration for the photo for #7, I really felt that a subtle change in colors was best because the information wasn’t contrary and merely needed to be grouped differently.
This sounds like it will add a lot of work and thought, but it really doesn’t. It only takes a moment to move the cursor up and pick out a color or grab a highlighter, and once you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll notice colors and combinations that you can quickly return to.
What other ways have you used color-coded notes?