[Archived] Structuring Knowledge with Templates and Properties

Templates and Properties allow you to use the same structure to record information about many similar Concepts.

Soren Bjornstad avatar
Written by Soren Bjornstad
Updated over a week ago

This article pertains to an old version of RemNote, prior to 1.12, when tables were publicly introduced. Templates and properties work differently now! For an updated version and links to more resources, see Tags, Properties, Tables, and Templates in Five Minutes.

It's often useful to categorize a Rem by stating what type of thing it is. For example, it's useful to know that Carbon is a type of Chemical Element, Mitochondria are a type of Organelle, and a Concept is a type of Rem.

Oftentimes, we'll want to know the same set of things about each type of thing. For example, we might want to know the atomic number and symbol of every Chemical Element, or the keyboard shortcut used to create each type of Rem. Templates and properties together allow us to ensure we record this common information in a consistent way.

Properties used to be called slots, so you may see this word used occasionally.

Identifying types of things and their properties

To describe such relationships in RemNote, we create one Rem for the specific thing, say, Carbon, and another Rem for the general type of thing, say, Chemical Element. (In most cases, we want both such Rem to be Concepts.) Then we tag the specific thing with the general type of thing; in this case we would apply the Chemical Element tag to the Carbon concept. Carbon is then said to be tagged with Chemical Element, and Chemical Element is said to be tagging Carbon.

Once we have several Concepts of the same type, we often find ourselves wanting to ask many of the same questions about each one. For instance, these Descriptors about Carbon are relevant to almost any Chemical Element:

We can organize such commonly applicable descriptors into a template which is attached to the Rem representing the type. Each descriptor that makes up a template is called a property, and a template is simply any Rem that has one or more properties as children. To turn a Rem into a property, type /pr.

For example, we can extend Chemical Element into a template like this. The icons replacing the bullets indicate that these Rem are properties.

Now when we tag a Rem with Chemical Element, we'll have the option to add one or more of the properties on that template:

You can see that the names of properties are underlined to indicate that they come from a template used on the parent Rem, and that you can easily preview the property from one of the places you've used it, or get a list of all places where you've used the property from the template.

Note: As with any other tag, when you're applying a template for the first time, you may need to select the Show Non-Tags option to see it in the tag search.

Automatically Activate Template

With some templates, you may want to add only a few individual properties to each Concept where you apply the template, because not all of the properties will be applicable every time. But with others, you'll likely want to add all properties every time you apply the template to a new Concept. To speed things up in this case, add the Automatically Activate Template power-up to the template's Rem, and the properties will be added right away when you apply the tag.

Benefits of Templates

Templates make learning many Concepts of the same type easier, because you immediately know what information you need to fill out and learn for each:

  • When you're learning about a historical event, you know you'll learn who was involved, what year it took place, and what impact it had.

  • When you're learning a new recipe, you know you'll learn what ingredients you need, what order to combine them in, and how long the process takes.

  • When you're learning a new word, you know you'll need to learn what type of word it is (noun, verb, adjective...) and the context in which it can be used.

Templates also help keep your knowledge base organized, because you'll use the same wording every time a particular type of thing comes up. For similar reasons, templates can make your flashcards more effective – if you aren't using properties and you end up using slightly different wording for the Descriptors of different Concepts, you may learn to tell the Concepts apart based on these slight differences in wording rather than the actual conceptual distinctions you were trying to learn!

Example Templates

Here are a few more examples of templates you could create.


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