Some objects deserve supplemental information, to be used together with the object. If the information is small, a marker or label is sufficient: one can write "Take with food" on a bottle of vitamins. But how would you attach instructions for a small device, like "Set the EMS value to 0.78 for foreheads" for an IR thermometer? Or "Mix (in order) 1 mL bleach with 175 mL water, then 1-2 mL of white vinegar to make first aid wound rinse. Store sealed without headspace, replace yearly." I don't want to ever need to redo that calculation--I want it stored on the bottle. (If you are curious about this, google hypochlorous acid wound rinse.) For rechargeable batteries: "Bought Jan 2020".

I'm looking for a solution that is not an eyesore--taping very large labels to these objects would not be ideal.

Edit: the one that's really annoying me is a palm sized programmable ozone generator that I'll use to help deodorize some old refrigerators, and for sundry purposes. What I need to remember are the settings: mode 1 is low power, mode 2 is low power but only run once, mode 3 is higher power for a short time then go to mode 1, mode 6 is delay then go to mode 3...

  • Eyesore: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I would think that complete, functional, practical, informative, handy, etc. are more desirable attributes for information access than being unattractive to some arbitrary user. Minimalist ID for referral usually carries Brand, Model, and Expiry Date if/when applicable or legally required. Referral information format and volume would necessarily vary with requirements. Occasionally, we create a brief guide, check list, or other aid to accompany complex or versatile multi-use gear or materials. Good luck – Stan 2 mins ago Edit
    – Stan
    Jan 29, 2021 at 17:56
  • 1
    1 low. 2 low 1x. 3 high > 1. 6 delay > 3. Feb 6, 2021 at 13:36

5 Answers 5


Supplementary and referral information storage depends on the kind of information. I don't know any 'one size fits all' solution. I use a multi-disciplinary approach.

Date relevant information is placed on a calendar: On my birthday, I replace the batteries for my smoke detector, for example.

Time relevant information is placed next to the clock or timepiece used to chronicle times — important times have an alarm set for the event or preparation for the event.

Location-relevant originals are stored where they will be most-likely be used. My car's owner's manual is in the storage compartment 'glove' box. I carry my flight documents and calculator in my flight case when I rent an airplane.

Much is sorted by use into a relevant sub-section of my library - I have a section for cookbooks which has most all my references on foodstuffs and appliances used preparing food. Another section is devoted to my drumming, graphic design, optics, teaching, etc.

Indexed and tagged verbal/numerical (searchable) data goes into a redundant (number and location) database both online and offline.

Good luck


This is not a complete answer, but my thoughts so far:

For small labels, I can use permanent markers or paint markers. These work when it's only a few words. However, the mark rubs off when trying to write on batteries or some plastics.

Another solution is QR codes: I can write some short instructions or data and embed that in a QR code and print it and glue it on. If I use rubber cement or spray adhesive, I may be able to remove it later if needed. However, the amount of data is limited. Worse, not everyone has a printer.

If more information is needed, I could create a pastebin snippet and use the QR code to link to its URL. However, web services come and go.

If the information needs to change or be updated, a QR code pointing at a note would be ideal, like Google Docs. If the document is public, it will have some protection against access being lost, but Google does occasionally ban users so access isn't guaranteed.

  • 1
    No. You shouldn't need an expensive accessory (such as a QR code reading smart phone) to get relevant information about an object or consumable material that may cause injury or damage if used incorrectly or atypically. </rant>
    – Stan
    Jan 29, 2021 at 17:46
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    @Stan What are you trying to say? It sounds like you think I should print out the manual and staple it to each item, but that can't be it. I'm sure you don't apply that standard to your kitchen appliances.
    – piojo
    Jan 29, 2021 at 17:58
  • My equipment and supplies all come with relevant printed information dealing with known issues that may cause injury or damage if used incorrectly or atypically. For example; When I receive a new medication in the form of tiny tablets small enough to swallow, they come in an appropriate-sized package with a 'monograph' [printed page or pages - too large to attach to each pill] detailing all relevant aspects of the medication as it relates to me and possible undesirable interactions with foods or other medications I might ingest.] It's referral material which you can store or discard by choice.
    – Stan
    Jan 29, 2021 at 18:23
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    QR codes are a great idea and what I came to add. You shouldn't need a $40+ phone for this problem, but since OP and most of the population has one already, why not? Many Lifehacks are based on random crap you might have lying around wondering what it's good for, like a smartphone. Feb 6, 2021 at 13:41

Some of your examples are information that's only needed occasionally. I tend to keep that type of information in my computer, not with the object.

Wound rinse: the bottle is large enough to fit a label, write the expiry date on the label and keep the instructions digitally.

Batteries: some batteries have an expiry date printed on them. For others, use a permanent marker. Put a note in your calendar to swap the batteries.

You could also print instructions and keep those in the same place as the object: your IR thermometer probably lives in a drawer or cabinet. Store the instructions under the thermometer.


Your examples look like they all might belong to the same medical/emergency kit.
In such case I would mark each item with a number and print a list with the numbers and the instructions to be glued to the kit, likely the inside if the door or lid.
Make a space to note the start date (and brand) of the batteries and where you use them.

This would also work for items in an office or a small part of the house, but not for items that will get spread widely.
For small items that need a large label you can attach a traditional paper label or a more modern one in plastic and write on that.

For the batteries a label on or even in the battery compartment. Or keep a small case with the batteries and mark that, when you swap batteries you keep them in their own case all the time.

  • 1
    Yes, stick a label (or use a permanent marker) with an expiry date and/or your "instruction number" which refers to a master list on a phone, tablet or other organiser. If the item has a case, put a printed copy in the case. If there are several items like a medical kit, print all the details on a single piece of paper. Jan 30, 2021 at 17:22

You are trying to re-invent the triangular wheel - which is worse than the square one.

Why? Because you try to mix in one "procedure" 3 (or more) kinds of information:

  • the name of the thing / substance;
  • the user manual;
  • the recipe of how to prepare it.

The only information which is really required on the "thing" is its name.

The "user manual" is optional, and makes sense to be added only if it is very small (e.g., "2/day, with food").

The recipe on how to make the "thing" is best to be kept away.

Also keep away the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the works of Nikolay Tolstoy.

Why keep away? Because while reading the recipe, you might overlook the sign which reads "highly toxic".

The best place for the not really required information is a paper notebook, where you can make any notes you want. Add any recipes. Add any comments. If you want to be high tech, add the information in an online hard drive (Dropbox, OneDrive, ... the internet is full of such services) or on a USB stick.

My personal choice: a mix of paper notebooks, stacks of flying papers, USB drives and web (online) hard drives. Why so many and strange? Because I do not have yet a final answer to the problem, and I am "by design" messy. You might be able to organize yourself better.

My mother had (and still has) a paper notebook with food and desserts recipes. Occasionally she wrote there cleaning hacks, or other information. That paper "storage" was started long before the "modern" Internet really appeared ("by the early 1990s").

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