How to Use Twitter to Compile and Export Your Kindle Notes and Highlights

by Carla Douglas
@CarlaJDouglas

Image by MKHMarketing

Do you use your Kindle for proofreading? If you do, then you know that being able to compile and export your highlights and notes — to make corrections to send to an author or formatter — is one of the handiest features available on this device.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about using Send to Kindle for personal documents. This feature, which allows you to send documents from your computer to your Kindle, is similarly handy for editors and authors.

Oh. Except that after you’ve finished working away marking up a manuscript with notes and highlights, you find out that the export feature is only available for books purchased through the Kindle store.

There is a way, though, to compile and export your markup notes and highlights. I tried this procedure on the Kindle and the Kindle apps for the iPhone and Android tablet. It worked well on the first two, but the Android app doesn’t offer the same options, at least not yet.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Twitter account
  • Evernote
  • Kindle device or app

Here’s what to do:

1. Open a Twitter account. If you already have one and it’s linked to your device, then you’re ready to go. On the other hand, if you don’t want to broadcast messages from your personal documents, then open a new account and protect your tweets in the privacy setting. Have your new username and password handy because you’ll need them to link to your device later.

2. Create an Evernote account if you don’t already have one. I like Evernote because it’s fast, flexible and free, and it syncs across all my devices.
   
3. Find your document on your Kindle or Kindle app.

4. Mark up errors and key passages using the procedure described in this postThe actual process of highlighting and making notes varies slightly across devices. I found it to be easier on the iPhone than on the Kindle because the iPhone responds more quickly and involves fewer steps. 
If your markup is intended for your own use later, you can probably just highlight errors and passages you want to return to. If you’ll be sending notes on to someone else, you might need to add a few words. Number or mark the notes if you like — especially if you’ll want to talk about them later, and can refer to note 1, note 2, and so on.
5. Share your notes and highlights to Twitter. On iOS devices, tap the export box (with arrow pointing up) and a menu with options to share to Twitter or Facebook pops up. Tap Twitter. Here’s what the screen looks like on the iPhone:
The Kindle provides many more choices about what you can do with text once it’s selected. Just choose Share (you might have to tap More first).
If your device is already linked to your Twitter account, then your message will be sent directly. If it’s not, then you’ll be asked to authorize Twitter by entering your username and password. 
6. Go to your Twitter account, where you’ll find your compiled highlights, tweet by tweet. If you are compiling notes to share with others, you can make these tweets available to selected recipients through Twitter’s privacy settings (see Step 1). Or, you can share via Step 7, below.
7. Clip your notes to Evernote. Do this if you have a long list of notes. The links remain active and you can take advantage of all of Evernote’s features to work with or share the text. This post by Michael Hyatt tells you how to get your notes to Evernote (begin at his Step 6).   
A nice feature of this method is that the links are compact, but they contain the entire block of text you’ve highlighted. Links will open on your own Kindle page. There might be a word limit for what’s contained in the links, but I haven’t found it. Here’s what a link looks like open:
Here, you can make additional notes on individual selections and share them. Note, however, that although you have the option to save the highlight, this function isn’t active for personal documents. So nothing is actually saved on your highlights page.
This is not a perfect solution, but it’s not bad, either. Ideally, Amazon will make these notes available for personal documents just as it does for purchased books. But making the notes and highlights visible to others is currently part of Amazon’s social reading apparatus. To share your notes and highlights, you have to make them public on your Kindle book page — and they won’t be personal documents anymore.

Even though the Kindle and Kindle apps weren’t designed specifically for sharing notes and marks in personal documents, these “markup” tools have enormous potential for proofreaders and authors.

Update: Thanks to Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles podcast for alerting me to the fact that this technique might not work if your Kindle is linked to Goodreads.

Is Goodreads the default destination for notes and highlights? Let me know if you’ve tried this method for exporting your notes. I’d love to hear what your experience is, and I’ll tweak this post accordingly.

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2 thoughts on “How to Use Twitter to Compile and Export Your Kindle Notes and Highlights

  1. On the Kindle Fire (at least latest generations thereof), you there is no Sharing option if it is a ‘personal document’ (i.e. not bought from Amazon). So in particular, one cannot use this technique to proofread and send notes via Twitter if it is a personal document, AFAICT (without some workaround I have not been able to discover).

  2. Thanks for passing on this information, Tom. It’s disappointing, as this is a really convenient feature of the older devices.

    Aside from people who work with text or read a lot of reports, etc., I wonder how many would even use the personal documents feature on a Kindle.

    I’ll be updating this post with your added info. Thanks again,

    Carla

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