Tips for Selecting Keywords in Personal Knowbase

New Personal Knowbase users often struggle with the best way to select keywords for the Index. Selecting keywords is very subjective. It does take a few extras minutes to select good keywords.

Sometimes I browse through my Index list a little to remind myself what keywords I’m already using in the current data file. But this time is well-invested and paid back later when I need to find something specific.

When choosing keywords for a new PK article, think about the context in which you will need this article again. When you need to find this information, what will you think of then? Whatever you’ll be thinking about at retrieval time should be a keyword.

Select keywords by an article’s purpose and what it relates to, which is not necessarily the exact words contained in the article text.


As a simple example, let’s say I save some information about Windows 10 that I copied from a newsletter. I could put the keyword newsletter on it, but that’s unlikely to be useful unless I remember that I found the information in a newsletter. It would be better to use keywords like compatibility issues or Windows 10 or just Windows.

Another example: Say you are storing a review of a book about national parks. You might want this review either when looking for information about books or for information about travel ideas. So you might use the keywords books and travel. Other possible related topics that might suggest keywords are national parks, nature, and road trip.

Final example: Keywording quotations provides great examples for how keywords should describe context rather than the words in the text. Quotes often relate to topics that are not mentioned directly. Consider Jack Canfield’s quote “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Keywords I would use to index this would be goals and courage. Neither word appears in the text.

keywords for quotations

Bonus Tip:

Fewer keywords are often better. Your keyword Index will be easier to maintain and articles may be easier to find if you give them a few targeted keywords rather than assigning every keyword that is remotely relevant.

You may feel a temptation to assign every keyword you can think of. But this causes the Index to become overwhelming later. Keep your Index easy to manage by concentrating on the context when an article will actually be needed.

Remember, the whole idea not to have to remember anything. To select keywords, relax and imagine the natural purpose of your article.