When and what do you actually write down?

I’m talking about the situation when you are studying/researching a subject you want to build.
For example, you are reading a book about the Panther or Tiger I tank of the second world war.
And you have a notebook/commonplace book beside you.
And you want to be actually able to remember what you’ve read.
When and what do you write down when reading that book or other source you’re using for research?
Are you only writing down numbers such as years when something happened for example?
Or not?
Do you write down sentence for sentence?
For example, you read a block of text and then if you think or feel like you have to write something down.
You do that?

I hope you understand where I’m going with this question and I hope you’re able to answer this for me.
Because I’m currently reading Scouts Out.
And this question came up yesterday and I’m not sure how to proceed with the action.

Have fun and happy modeling,


I use the camera on my phone. Not necessarily for modeling, but for anything I want to remember and don’t feel like writing down. (And later losing)

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I don’t always write done my ideas as they usually stick, if not then it probably wasn’t a good enough idea that I was passionate about to build.

I have one idea from a book similar to your question. I am using my phone’s notebook feature. I have written down necessary details like book, page, in this case the person of interest, action I want to capture and additional research information to look up later.

I have copy and pasted my short hand notes.
Gods and generals
Pg 342
Chamberlain Dec 13 1862 late afternoon, raised a pistol to a scared retreating Union soldier from the 12th Maine

I would have to research plastic options available, what the 12th Maine uniforms might have been a wearing.

You could print out the article (if you have a printer); I just scribble down pertinent information.
:smiley: :canada:

I’ll ask a question here and if the responses fill in my questions, or have links etc I use the book mark feature.

Like wise if I see a build log on a kit I have and they’ve gone into detail then I bookmark it. I’ll label it for quick references. Same w good how to’s, paint and finishing techniques. That book mark feature is very very handy.

As far as my own library, pulling any relevant books for the project and leave them by the desk to reference as I go. Any particular details like which paints I used I do on the instructions or a 3x5 card for common items.

No diary or paper trail outside of that for me. I mentioned several times but go thru the forums, just browse and book mark and save relevant topics. Many of the fella’s here have gladly done some heavy lifting and they share to help everyone.

I research more or less for a living. The question you pose is quite broad and as such may receive a vague answer so I apologize from the outset.

But… it depends. It depends on what you are hoping to gain, what your purpose for doing the research is, and what you are looking for.

If your end goal is finding when a specific unit was in an area and what vehicles they may have had. Your note might be as simple as “3rd armored was in Paderborn April 1945. Mid of half tracks, M4 and Pershing’s”

If you want information on armor layout of a Tiger, maybe you draw a diagram or print out a line drawing, examine it and annotate as you see fit.

For me personally, I find writing information down helps me solidify what I’ve read. However, the end goal in my opinion is to boil down a larger resource to the information pertinent to the question you are seeking answers too. I often see people writing down everything they read, or highlighting an entire page. The problem there is when you go back to review you basically have to sift through the entire text again

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@Tank_1812 Personally, I’ve found out that using the notes app on my phone. Doesn’t have the same ‘feeling’ and benefits of writing down by hand with a pen and piece of paper. Just using my phones note app just doesn’t capture what I’m wanting to write down. It simply goes ‘into the phone’ and then it simply stays there. It doesn’t stick into my brain. I don’t remember it anymore. It’s just gone.

@Biggles50 Isn’t that a little waste of paper and ink? Because I assume afterwards you throw it in the trash? Or is it actually something you save and keep like an archive or library on it’s own? That last thing said, it could be a very interesting idea. If I had the room foor all that date to store it physically. :expressionless:

@MontanaHunter How do you organize those bookmarks? What browser are you using for that? Or are you using a seperate bookmark manager? Because, I’ve found out. The more bookmarks I collect. The more difficult it becomes to save and store them. And still being able to find them back easily in an relaxed manner. Without spending lots of time spitting through my library to find what I’m looking for.

@Mead93 I’ve never actually learned goal setting. So, how do you actually do that? How does that work? And I’m not kidding. I really never learned that. And I didn’t realize that my question was so broad. I honestly didn’t know. I also didn’t really think about all this before I started. Because I saw it as simply start with the studying. And see where it all goes. But I would be happy to receive some help to make it more smooth and efficient. And to learn how to do it better next time in the future. Though I have started the study to find out of the the Sd. Kfz. 234/2 Puma 8 wheel scout vehicle of the Germans. And this was simply a book I still had and never actually read out from the beginning to the ending. So, that’s the story.

Thanks for all the comments,


I would not necessarily view it as goal setting. I think you may be approaching studying from the wrong perspective.

While general reading about any topic can be fun and enjoyable. Research in my opinion is a bit different. Generally research starts from asking a basic question.

For example, I recently bought Dragons M2A1 half track simply because I love half tracks. I then saw a scheme in the instructions which caught my fancy. A white wash over olive drab


I then found a picture of the exact vehicle and got interested so I looked up XX corps. This led me to a few articles on the units actions in late 1944 and into 1945. From there I read about the artillery they used and came up with and idea for a winter dio with the half track towing an artillery piece.

This all started from the simply being inspired but the camo scheme I saw. I find research for me is much more effective and easy when it is sparked by some inspiration and desire to answer a specific question

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I do not take notes for research. I collect material I think is important for what I want. As I study the material I come up with additional questions that I can go back to my collected material and answer the new questions. If you just take notes, you will have to start researching all over again when a new question pops up.If you copy /collect the research material you can go back and use it over again and again. I have book shelves filled with collected materials that I can go back to when a new question arises.

Mead93’s answer really covers the answer to what you asked, but it seems to me that perhaps the “when and what” are not actually your question. It seems to me that what you really want to know is, “How do I even start?”

Reasearch and study generally proceed from the general, more global levels of information down to ever more specific and detailed levels. So, general study of some topic, say a particular battle or campaign, might create in interest in something related to it, say a particular type of tank. Further study and research might ultimately land you at a level where you want to know the specific dimensions of a particular nut or bolt on that tank so that you can accurately replicate that same nut or bolt in scale on your tank model.

Study and research can also be cyclic, so the effort can also lead from the very specific and detailed up to the more general and global. In other words, the process described above can also go in reverse. So…

You might also revisit that earlier generalized study and research, which triggered your interest in that particular tank, in order to continue with the model build. Perhaps as you build the model you also want to add historical, geographic and environmental context to your final vision for the display of that tank model (how was it marked, how should it be weathered, what sort of terrain was it used in, what was the weather like, etc.). You might then go back to that initial reference source to find (or re-read) that information needed to add that context to the model that has been improved or enhanced with the later, detailed technical research.

The real “trick” (if that’s the way to put it) is to approach deliberate study and research like all “problem-solving” efforts, and ALL problem-solving paradigms (i.e. process models) BEGIN with identifying and defining the problem. That is, you MUST know what the question is BEFORE you can find the answer. What is it that you want to know?

(Random, creative processes are different, and sometimes random “study” can lead to inspiration and motivation to undertake a more deliberate effort necessary to engage in a creative, artistic activity. That is, perhaps you’re reading a book about some campaign or battle simply for pleasure and enjoyment. As you read that book you find your interest peaked by something, and that interest develops into some specific idea or vision for a model or diorama. Now that you have that vision, you also now have a specific question or direction for deliberate research. So, do not confuse such random “study” undertaken in the search for ideas and your artistic muse as “deliberate” research. The one may lead to the other, but they are different mental processes.)

Once you KNOW what your question is, then the collection the information needed to answer that question can be done. Here is where your initial query of “when and what” should be recorded comes into play. The answer to that is simple (yet not necessarily easy). It is to record by taking notes of any information that you do not think you will be able to recall from memory when you need it as you implement the answer to your basic question into whatever creative effort you’re undertaking.

Your note taking may be as simple as jotting down the page number that some useful bit information is on. You know or feel that in a couple of months’ time when you’re ready to start planning the composition of the diorama or vignette base for your model that you’ll want to go back and re-read the details of the battle in which your model tank was involved and which also sparked your interest in that tank to start with. There may be other details mentioned in that reference book that you also want to recall or refer to later, so you may also write down those page numbers.

In some other reference book, say one about that particular tank model, you discover the production timing that helps to determine just which specific physical details would be visible on the tank model you want to build. You might then continue adding page numbers to your notes, perhaps referencing particularly useful photos or drawings.

As you continue, you might find that you want to add some detail to the model that is not included in the kit and which cannot be found offered by a credible AM product vendor. So, your notes might start to include your own hand-drawn sketches of this detail, maybe with dimensions that you derive by scaling various photos found in several different reference books. You might also record the page numbers and titles to find those photos later as you scratch-build this detail.

Think of the final product of this research as your own, personal bibliography, index and footnotes for the project that you’re working on. You want to have recorded the information and sources that you will need to refer to as you actually undertake that project.

In short, there is no one research recording process that can possibly cover how you save information for future reference as you actually undertake the implementation of the answer to your initial question. You just have to record and save what you, yourself, know that you will need later, and do so in a manner that suits your own needs and purposes.

Your own needs and purposes drive the techniques and formats for making your notes and recording your research findings. YOU make YOUR recording techniques and formats to fit YOUR needs and the way YOU work or want to work.

Finally, you should understand that even though you have identified your initial starting question (so that you can know what it is that you WANT to know to answer it), the process itself of learning and study to answer that question inevitably leads to more questions and branches and sequels to your original research.

You should also know and understand the researcher’s corollary to Murphy’s Laws: No matter how long and diligently you study and search for information, the last bit of missing information you needed for your project will always manifest itself as soon as you’re finished with that project. LOL!

The practical importance of this “Researcher’s Corollary” is that you have to eventually decide that you have all of the information that you need to move forward even if you don’t have every bit of information that you might want. Once you reach the point where you have enough to do a credible job (“credible” being defined by YOUR own standards), then you should make the call to get started. If you wait until you have every bit of info you do want, it’s quite likely that you’ll never start, much less finish you build. Sometimes “good enough” is as good as it gets.

Don’t be discouraged! Even the experts don’t know all the answers to every question nor all the information applicable to the subject.


Don’t see a way to organize them but here in Kitmakervwhen you bookmark a topic it gives you the ability to name. Like if I bookmarked this thread I’d probably call it “research” with todays date. Typically as I go thru the forums I’m only looking at posts that I find interesting, so I bookmark Panzer IV or M1A1 Abraham’s, or oil paint techniques, or pastels… and so on. I pay particular interest to topics that happen to be kits I already have in my stash.and frequently, because of my interest a lot of those have additional links from experts on those AFV’s.

Just do yourself a favor and don’t suffer from what we call in the US “paralysis by over analysis”. And what I mean is don’t get so hung up on research that you don’t ever get to the build, everyone in here is of varying abilities so your research needs to be only deep enough to match your skill set. So if your not to the point of being able to chop up a kit to lengthen by a few millimeters because it’s “off” then concentrate your research in a general area like the typical camp it had or the unit markings (if it even had any). I’m not counting bolts on wheel hubs myself or chopping up hulls but I do watch for other builders that have done some modifying or scratch building or adding details that I know are in my ability. Those threads get bookmarked quickly.

My take on the recent answers is, it’s still a puzzle I’m making and trying to complete.
And I continue to do this.
And it is true that I’m also just reading these kinds of books for the fun of it and the enjoyment and interest I have in them.
Thank you for the information and I will think and decide which answer is best for me to mark as a solution to my question. Thank you.