Readwise Integration

Readwise now offers Tana integration! 🎉

Available for those with a Readwise subscription or if you started their free trial which allows for export of 10 most recently highlighted documents.

For more on what Readwise is, check out their webpage:


Important Information

Your documents and highlights will, by default, end up in your Library under a special Readwise node. There is an option to use your Inbox instead. Either way, do not delete the special Readwise node as it connects Readwise to your Tana workspace.

Upon initial export, Readwise will create supertags and fields in your workspace. Their unique IDs will be saved by Readwise so future exports use the same tags and fields. Once they're created, you can customize them in Tana, like adding the fields to the supertag definition, changing their names, colour, field type, and so on.

If you have existing Readwise content in your workspace via alternative solutions, you may want to better understand how the official integration works before you make any decisions. Details to consider are covered in the Advanced considerations section of the article.

Readwise can only write new information to your workspace. It cannot read and connect incoming data to existing nodes in your workspace. It is possible to use AI and commands to do the last mile connection though, more on this in the Advanced considerations section.

Step 1: Connect Readwise to Tana

Log into your Readwise account and head over to this page for the Tana Export settings:

It will prompt you to create a Tana API and to paste it into Readwise. Do this by going to your global Settings > API tokens, then pick the workspace you want them synced to, and hit Create

A token is immediately created and copied to your clipboard. Head back to Readwise and plug that into the setup and hit Save.

Step 2: Review the Export settings

This is an overview of all the options available on the Tana Export page:

Tana Export page from Readwise

1. Button to initiate an export: Press to initiate sync.

You'll likely want to tweak some of the settings before exporting all your highlights at the same time, so we do not recommend pressing this until you've reviewed at least all of Step 3.

2. Export Automatically (when new highlights are added): Turn this on to have Readwise automatically push new highlights to Tana as they're made. We advise to wait with turning this on until you are satisfied with the export from Readwise.

3. Use Compact Layout (Merge multi-lines highlights in one-line, disabling will split lines in multiple nodes.): Tana doesn't support soft line-breaks in nodes, so this gives you the option to either have highlights with soft line-breaks exported as separate nodes, or to have the line-breaks removed which keeps the highlight as one node.

Use Compact Layout OFF

Use Compact Layout ON

4. Send documents to Inbox (It will send documents to Inbox instead of your Library): New documents and highlights are by default sent to a special Readwise node created in the Library. Turn this on to instead have these forwarded to your Inbox instead.

Inbox is not recommended for first imports if you have hundreds of documents/highlights in Readwise.

5. Use Custom Formatting (Customize the format of your Tana page using Readwise templates): Turn this on to customize how content is exported. Readwise has a highly customizable template language that you can use to change how your documents and highlights are exported.

  • 5A. Page title: This will determine the format of the Document node

  • 5B. Highlight: This formats the Highlights

  • 5C. Page fields: This determines the names of the fields. You can turn them on or off.

6. Select items to be Exported (Filter which books/articles/tweets to sync to Tana): Turn this on to select which documents you want to export (6A).

Step 3: How to fine tune your export until it's perfect

We know Tanarians care a lot about how incoming information is structured when it comes from elsewhere! Below are instructions on how to responsibly tweak your export settings without making a huge mess in the process that will need a lot of cleanup.

1. When fine tuning your settings, turn on the following settings, and the rest keep off:

Recommended settings for fine tuning

2. For your first export, pick a few documents to export at the time to see what they look like in Tana: Pick ones with many different features used, like document tags and notes, highlight tags and notes and images, books and videos, etc. so you're testing every possibility you're likely to see in your highlights.

Pick a few documents to test sync

3. Hit the "Start Export to Tana" button: This will push only the selected documents to your Tana. They will end up under the Readwise node in your Library by default.

4. Find the exported node and take a look: Look in Library, or try to @-mention a node called "Readwise". Reminder that upon initial export, Readwise will create supertags and fields in your workspace, saving them in the Schema. From this initial export, you may want to change some things in the export settings, and try again. Hard-delete (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Backspace) the document nodes in Tana before re-exporting. Do NOT delete the main Readwise node.

5. Tweak export settings: Make adjustments in Readwise based on what you saw.

6. To make a fresh export of a document after making adjustments: You must tell Readwise to "refresh" a document which will reset Readwise's memory of having synced that particular document before. (This essentially makes Readwise forget the nodeID associated with this document)

7. Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you're happy!

8. Once you're satisfied, feel free to turn "Export Automatically" ON and "Select items to be exported" OFF. This will make Readwise sync everything in the next sync cycle, and every other document and highlight that gets added thereafter. If you have many highlights, this may take some time and occasionally freeze Tana. The work happens in the background, so it's safe to close it or leave it open while it's doing a big sync.

Step 4: Once it's in Tana

Properly making the supertags: You can promote the fields to the supertags, rearrange them anyway you see fit, pick a colour, and even add fields of your own.

Ideas for surfacing your Readwise content: By default, Readwise will sync to a special Readwise node in the Library. Below is some inspiration on how you can surface this content:

  • To see your whole Readwise Library:

    • Make a Reference to the Readwise node somewhere prominent or memorable

    • Pin the Readwise node

  • To see parts of your library:

    • To see your highlights by the day they were synced

      • Highlight tag

      • Created on calendar day: parent

    • To see your latest documents from the past 30 days:

      • Readwise tag

      • edited last 30 day

Got too many highlights? Tana will only return max 2500 nodes through a search node. If you have more than that many highlights, try narrowing down the search by when it was created, or what tags are used.

Advanced considerations, or if you have existing Readwise content in your workspace

If you have previous imports to Tana from Readwise, either through Reader Export via clipboard or other custom implementation from our very inventive community such as Brandon's readwise.toolsfortana, you may be wondering whether to merge your existing information with the new setup, or not.

The following section will be important to read for your considerations.

Readwise does not retrieve any information from your workspace, other than the nodes, tags and fields that it creates and saves the nodeID from. For the first iteration of this integration we've decided to only permit Write permissions and limit Read permissions. From a security perspective it's good because it means that Readwise has no access to your workspace content other than the nodes it creates. From an automation perspective it may leave a bit to desire because your imports will not automatically link to nodes that exist in your workspace. That said...

Tana AI and commands can fill a lot of last mile connections: A workaround is to use AI to connect plain text with nodes in your graph once the content is there.

It's currently not possible to create multiple nodes inside of a field: This means that a highlight Tag field for instance will export tags as just words in a single node. However, if you use AI in Tana, this info can be extracted (see point above).

Merge direction is super important: When merging your tag/field/node with a Readwise-equivalent object, always merge in the direction of what Readwise had created. This ensures that the Readwise-synced nodeID is preserved so it can send updates to it in the future.

Above is important because deleted nodes still get synced to: If you delete a document node that Readwise creates, Readwise will continue to push changes to it because it looks for a nodeID match, no matter where it is in the graph. See Step 3 on how to properly disassociate document nodes created by Readwise.

For a full reset, make a new API token: Replacing the API token with a new one will prompt a fresh export, no matter what was exported to your workspace in the past. Readwise relinquishes all previous nodeIDs it has saved, and all new tags, fields and nodes will be created. Useful if you want to do something like change which workspace it gets synced to, or start from scratch.