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How To Use Roam Research

Image of Ash Roy
Ash Roy

Are you looking to manage your ideas and thoughts better?

If you're anything like me, you're mind's probably overflowing with ideas several of which you want to get back to but never seem to find the time to revisit. 

Roam Research is one of the most useful apps I've come across when it comes to knowledge retention and more importantly information retrieval. 

I'm going to put down some helpful tips and strategies to get the most out of Roam based on my knowledge as at the 17th of May 2021 (as I'm writing this). 

I recommend coming back and checking this blog post every so often as I intend to update it from time to time.


What is Roam Research

At first glance, Roam Research appears to be a humble and unassuming note-taking app. The interface is quite austere.

But dig a little deeper, and you'll see that it's oh so much more than that!

I think it's an amazing knowledge management system and runs rings around other tools I've used in the past. 

Roam Research has 2 distinct features that separate it from the others in the industry. 

The first of these features is the "daily notes" feature. It looks pretty innocuous at first. When you fire up the application, you're left staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor. 

But this is where it gets magical. 

As you start to take notes you can insert two consecutive square brackets on each side of any word or phrase and Roam Research recognizes that term as an independent page. 

Let's say I'm writing a sentence in my daily notes about a new excel keyboard shortcut I just learnt. I would this sentence in my daily notes:

"Today I learnt this awesome new excel keyboard shortcut" and I"d put the term "excel keyboard shortcut between 2 square brackets on each side. So that sentence would look like this:

"Today I learnt this awesome new [[excel keyboard shortcut]]"

Roam research will instantly create a page called "excel keyboard shortcut" and every other occurrence of that phrase "excel keyboard shortcut" that I've ever written about before in Roam Research can be automatically linked to that page. 

This allows you to discover other instances of your own thinking on that same topic via what I call "happy accidents"

Imagine you'd written about some other awesome excel keyboard shortcut 5 years ago and had totally forgotten about it. Well now Roam Research will present that back to you. 

How awesome is that?!

Readwise integration

Roam also integrates with Readwise which is an app that extracts all the highlights and notes you make on your kindle application while reading. This enables your previous insights and notes from books you've read previously to 're-surface' and connects them with other ideas and notes on the same topic. 



Why Roam Research is unique (and probably better) than most other note-taking tools


Most note-taking applications have a hierarchical approach. You have notes organized in some kind of a structure at one level, then you have a second level of notes below that, and then another level below that. It looks something like this:

  • Topic (Level 1)
    • Sub-topic (Level 2)
      • Sub-topic (Level 3)

Here's how Roam is different. It enables bi-directional linking which means that your notes aren't restricted to the traditional folder structure.

This bi-directional linking creates incredibly valuable opportunities for you to have what I call "happy accidents" and enables you to stumble upon the content you might have created many moons ago and forgotten about.

This allows you to synthesize and develop your ideas in unexpected and wonderful ways.

It also means you don't have to decide what folder a particular note has to live in ... and more importantly the note can "appear" in multiple locations.

Useful keyboard shortcuts for Roam Research

  • To turn something into a task you can hit CMD + enter
  • To create a heading ONE use Cmd+Alt+1
  • To create a heading ONE use Cmd+Alt+2
  • To create a heading ONE use Cmd+Alt+3
  • Cmd + Period (.) goes into the bullet and focuses only on that
  • Cmd + , goes back up one level
  • You can also search for page names in the search bar
  • Use Control + Shift + D to get back to the daily page


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