When I learn to use linux, Emacs, and programming, I asked and googled a lot of How-to's. I would like to note them down for furture reference. The tools should be:

  • Use plain text file, perhaps with some mark-down.
  • able to generate output, in html/pdf.
  • able to search by text strings.

Is there such tool-chains works well with Emacs? I've heard about org-mode, can it fulfill my requirement?

  • 1
    My setup is described roughly here: lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-orgmode/2014-04/msg01134.html. I've used it for about a year.
    – abo-abo
    Dec 20, 2014 at 12:49
  • 1
    I'm sorry that this is going to come across as unwelcoming, but I downvoted for lack of basic research before posting. You write that "I've heard about org-mode" -- please do the basic searches that would help you answer your question yourself. Quick google searches turn up the org-mode manual, the nodes on exporting to HTML and PDF, and a lot of tutorials off of the org-mode site.
    – Dan
    Dec 20, 2014 at 16:22
  • You do not specify the behavior/features that you want - what you mean by "a personal notebook". You mention plain text and markdown - but to do what? You mention generating HTML/PDF, but for what? What is the relation between your having googled How-to's and the question you want to ask? You ask, "Can it fulfill my requirement? What requirement? What is the aim? What features do you really need?
    – Drew
    Dec 20, 2014 at 22:21

3 Answers 3


Yes, certainly Org-mode can do that. Here is a nice tutorial that is simple to quickly learn and use Org-mode.

I would like to note them down for future reference.

You can store mostly anything in Emacs with org-mode with org-store-link inside an org-mode buffer and later open that link again. You can even store remote ssh link to a file and later open it, the same way as you open your local files! You can also store URL on the web that is clickable.

Use plain text file

able to search by text strings.

Org-mode is completely plain text, so you can use any text search tool to search for content.

able to generate output, in html/pdf.

Org-mode can generate many output. My series of guides is an example. Or the Org Manual. Here is a list of formats that you can export with Org-mode. You can export to mark down later if you want.

  • I tried org-mode and exported to html with a theme, it's great. I'd continue to lean it. BTW: Your tutorial link is also great. Thank you!
    – Nick
    Dec 21, 2014 at 0:40

You can’t go wrong with org-mode. If you want something lighter-weight, or in particular, based around an external tools (which could be easier to use depending on your preference), then I suggest jrnl. You write entries in plain-text and can convert them to JSON—to be honest I’ve found less use for that—or Markdown. The latter allows you to convert to a number of formats via Pandoc if you choose. It is not a superior approach to org-mode, simply different.


If you want to "note down" "How-to's" that you have googled, then consider simply bookmarking them, using Emacs bookmarks. You can add plain-text annotations to bookmarks.

If you use Bookmark+ then you can use Org mode for bookmark annotations.

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