Help me organize my chunks.
January 26, 2011 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend software for organizing small chunks of text using tags?

I’m a writer and part of my job is pulling quotes pertaining to certain topics to run in different pieces. Because of the nature of the writing, it’s perfectly acceptable to use quotes up to a couple of years old, but, predictably, maintaining Word documents filled with interview transcripts is a bit of a hassle when I need to quickly find a good quote on a certain topic.

Does anyone know of any web-site, software or freeware that would allow me to enter chunks of text with multiple tags so I can quickly find them later by subject when the need arises?
posted by DeusExMegana to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't the most elegant solution in the world, but you could always start a free blog at, and post each quote as a separate entry. I think it's possible to hide the blog from public view, so you'd be the only one with access to it.
posted by ixohoxi at 10:42 AM on January 26, 2011

What platform are you on? If you're using OS X, Yojimbo is great for this. 30 day free trial then $39 for a license.

You could also try Evernote. It's free (with optional paid plans) and works on Windows, OS X, and most mobile platforms. It's a bit clunky and might be overkill for what you need though.
posted by crosbyh at 10:44 AM on January 26, 2011

Oh, for a Windows-only solution, CintaNotes is free and looks pretty decent. Haven't used it myself though.
posted by crosbyh at 10:46 AM on January 26, 2011

Though there is a cost associated with signing up, Pinboard has an "add note" feature that will allow you to enter blocks of text and tag them.
posted by alynnk at 10:50 AM on January 26, 2011

Best answer: My costume-designer sweetie uses Evernote to do this when researching costumes for plays. It has folders and tags, it can take text, pictures and sound-bites. Free (for most non-super-heavy-use), it can be used online, or with desktop, iPhone and Android apps. Plus all the apps automatically sync with each other.

I don't usually rave about apps, but Evernote is a great one.
posted by Invoke at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2011

I use tiddlywiki for very similar purposes.
It's a great tool - it's a single html file that's almost exactly what you describe - "tiddlers," as they're called, can be tagged and searched quickly. The file can be stored on your computer or on a thumb drive. Editing tiddlers is as easy as double-clicking on the text to enter edit-mode.
I can't recommend it enough - and, it's free.
posted by soplerfo at 1:47 PM on January 26, 2011

If you are trying to tag interviews so as to remind yourself of particular quotes you want to pull out later, you might want to look into the sorts of software used by linguists and anthropologists for precisely the purpose of categorizing sections of interviews. The main one I am familiar with is Elan, which allows you to import audio or video data, transcribe it (or you directly import transcriptions made in other programs), and then you can have multiple "rows" of transcription: at a minimal set up, you'd have one for the actual text, another for notes. In my set up, I have one for the text, one for notes about the accent, one for notes about the syntax, one for notes about stuff I didn't understand, and one to mark really important stuff to come back to.

The end product is exportable to xml and numerous other formats, and can then be easily searched (you can search individual files from within Elan). I use TextWrangler for this step, because I can then search multiple files.

There are heaps more programs like this out there. Stuff for anthropologists in particular might be worth looking at. Have a look here.
posted by lollusc at 3:46 PM on January 26, 2011

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