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Assigning Topics – A Powerful Benefit of JournalLife

Written April, 2007
by Ruth Folit

One of the sometimes overlooked but very powerful benefits of JournalLife is that you can search journal entries by topics.  Why is this feature powerful?  By re-reading specific journal entries — or particular passages of journal entries in which you have written about a topic–you will discover patterns of behavior or attitudes that you might not otherwise have noticed.

Before you can search topics you must first assign topics to selected writing. Here’s how to get started:

To the right of each journal entry is a sidebar with three tabs.  Click the Topics tab if the Topics sidebar isn’t displayed. You’ll note that there are two list boxes in it: Entry Topics and the Topics List.

Let’s talk about the Topics List first.  The Topics List is the set of all Topics that you can assign to journal entries. They are arranged in a hierarchical order–main topics followed by subtopics and sub-subtopics.  By clicking the Expand All/Collapse Alltoggle button at the bottom of the Topics List all the subtopics and sub-subtopics appear when you click Expand All, and only the main topics appear when you clickCollapse All.

Now that you know how to access the Topics List, let’s discuss how to assign topic(s) to an entire journal entry: We recommend that you first write your journal entry. Then go back and see what topics you have written about. In the Topics List, click the topics or subtopic(s) about which you have written.

Here’s what to do if you want to assign topic(s) to a particular passage in a journal entry: After you have written your journal entry, re-read it. Which sentences or paragraphs do you consider, particularly pithy, insightful, or filled with information that you think you might want to re-read?  Select that text (that is, click and drag your mouse over it) and then click a topic in the Topics List.

NOTE: You can assign more than one topic to an entry or to a passage.

How do you know what topics are assigned to an entry?

Look at the Entry Topics list box in the Topics sidebar.  The short list of topics–perhaps some with bookmark icons and others with highlighting icons adjacent to the topics–are the topics that have been assigned to an entry.  If there is a bookmark icon, the topic has been assigned to the entire entry.  If there is a highlight icon, the topic has been assigned to the passage. If you click a topic adjacent to a highlight icon, a yellow highlighted background will show which passages you have assigned that topic.

How do you remove a topic assigned to an entry?

To remove a topic assigned to an entire entry, right click the bookmarked topic and a context menu appears: Remove Topic from Entry.  Select it and the topic is removed.

How do you remove a topic assigned to a passage?

Select (click and drag your mouse) over the text from which you want to remove a topic. Then click the journal entry toolbar button. (It’s on the far right and looks like a pencil erasing a highlight.)  If there is only one topic assigned to the passage, that topic is removed from the selected text. If multiple topics are assigned to a passage, a dialog box appears asking which topics you want to remove.