Harnessing the Power of References in Tana

At its core, Tana employs a hierarchical structure of bullet points, known as nodes, to organize information. Each node represents a piece of text or content that can be indented under another node, forming a clear and structured outline. All nodes in Tana can be traced back to one of three primary nodes: the library, the calendar, or the home node.

Methods of Creating References in Tana

To create references in Tana, you essentially have two primary methods:

Using the ‘@’ symbol: If the desired node isn’t visible, you can press the ‘@’ key at the desired location and start typing. Tana will automatically display a list of autocompleted items matching the typed text, along with a path to help identify the correct node.

Direct copy-pasting: If the desired node is visible on the screen, you can place the cursor on that node and press Cmd-C (Mac) or Ctrl-C (Windows) to copy the node to the clipboard. You can then position the cursor where you wish to insert the reference and press Cmd-V (Mac) or Ctrl-V (Windows) to paste the reference.

Creating New Nodes and Avoiding Duplicates

Tana also enables users to create new nodes and link to them simultaneously. If the desired node cannot be found or a new one is needed, you can press Cmd-Enter (Mac) or Ctrl-Enter (Windows), and Tana will create a new node in the current space’s library, inserting a reference to the newly created node.

Utilizing the ‘@’ symbol to create a reference can help prevent duplicates. For example, if you want to add a new #restaurant, you can start by typing “@la cucina.” If there is already an existing node for “La Cucina,” it will appear in the list, and you can simply reference it. If not, you can create a new one with the same action.

Referenced Nodes and Inline References: A Closer Look

Inline references are created when a reference is inserted within text. You can shift-click to expand the entire node below or select it with the cursor and expand (cmd/ctrl+down) to view and edit its contents. As we have just seen above, when you insert a reference at the beginning of an empty node, Tana creates a referenced node that serves as a mirror of the original node. This referenced node can be expanded in a card by holding Shift while clicking the title.

Bonus tip: When expanding nodes as shown above, you can use the contextual content feature to keep track of any notable information about that specific reference. Once your node card is open, select the node title and press cmd/ctrl+alt+down to add contextual content. This will help you to remember important details and make your note-taking more effective. 

Bonus: Merging Nodes for Enhanced Organization and Clarity

By merging duplicate nodes, you can consolidate related content and minimize confusion arising from multiple nodes with similar names or concepts.

In the video you can see how I have two very similar nodes mentioning the same restaurant on today’s and tomorrow’s node and I can merge the two for convenience.

The ability to merge nodes not only saves time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manual organization but also ensures that all references within the workspace are accurately updated to point to the new singular node ID.

This feature is particularly valuable in complex workflows or collaborative workspaces, where maintaining a coherent and well-structured outline is crucial for efficiency and effective communication among team members.