Detective Club

Start a detective notebook

Each of us Ace Detectives keeps our own detective notebook, plus we put case notes together for each case we're working on. We carry around paper and pens, cameras, and sometimes a tape or digital recorder to capture what’s being said when we talk to people. We have access to computers, email and the Internet.

What do we write in a detective notebook?

We write several things including:

  • Interview summaries – notes when we talk to people and ask them questions
  • Observations – to describe places we visit and things we see happening
  • Research notes – facts we find out online, in museums, libraries or other places where information has been collected
  • Case meeting notes – a record of decisions we make and to-do-lists
  • Reports – short presentations to talk through with other people involved in a case, to bring them up to speed or summarise where we’re at with something.

How do we write and keep the notes?

If we’re out and about observing and thinking, we write a lot on paper, or into a laptop. If we’re talking to people it’s often on the run, so paper is good. For more formal interviews we use the recorder and laptop, if the interviewees are OK with that.

With online research we collect stuff on the computer as we go, and in museums and libraries we might use our laptop, their computer, or just paper again. Sometimes we photocopy stuff.

We make lots of different electronic documents and store them in folders on our computers. Usually we type up paper notes, to make a permanent record and help us think something through more. If a piece of paper seems important, we keep it.

What goes in the case notes?

We often have electronic case notes and a cardboard folder or box for stuff like newspaper clippings and photos. Case notes start with what we know at the beginning of a case and grow to build a picture of what we find out, until we solve it.

“I collect small notepads with different coloured paper, and I put the date on electronic documents.”
“When I save an electronic document or make a new folder, I use a name that describes the content. I help the others keep track of their files!”

Good luck with your detective notebook and case notes. Have fun writing!


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