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A Zettelkasten is a system-based method for creating a Personal Knowledge Base (Wikipedia) that relies on the use of trunking references. promotes use of the Zettelkasten method and also sells an app similar to NValt called “The Archive”.

My Tools

  • This wiki: as a testbed and potentially something larger, where information is appropriate to be made publicly accessible.
  • The Archive: an upgrade on the old nvAlt/Notational Velocity paradigm. Really efficient plain text note editor.
  • 1Writer: syncing with my Dropbox store of zettels for editing and viewing on iOS.
  • DEVONthink Pro: it can utilise wikilinks and has AI to facilitate cross-linking and referencing. I have created an indexed database referencing my Dropbox folder for The Archive/1Writer, and a second indexed folder for support documents.
  • Notebooks for keeping my Zettel support documents, which includes marking up, highlighting and reading PDFs. This folder is indexed by DevonThink. I could eliminate this app from my workflow, but I enjoy using it moreso than DevonThink, especially on iOS.
  • Textexpander: to create a template as a starting point for new zettels.
  • VoodooPad: I bought this software when it was still owned by Gus Mueller. It was sold to Plausible Labs, who did nothing but make it worse for a couple of years. Now Primate Labs own it and are working on a new version, which is apparently promised in late-2019. I wait with bated breath.

Effective Zettel composition

A Clear Title About the Content

Make the title directly about the content. Be as clear as possible. If the title doesn’t tell you what is in the Zettel, it is useless. It should inform you and not just grab your attention.

  • A bad example: Being and cognition
  • A better example: No being without cognition
  • BETTER: Cognition is the process of constructing being

Note: A longer title is fine. It is a title for a note and not for your next bestseller.

The First Sentences are a Description of the Content

The first sentence of a Zettel should be a short description to give you an idea what this Zettel is all about. You should give your future self an abstract. It will thank you because it can decide early if the note is important.

What is a Single Zettel?

A settle is best thought of as a paragraphic synopsis of a larger piece of information, contained within a single atomic note.

In different software, a zettel would be saved and expressed differently:

  • TheBrain: within the note pane of a thought
  • Wiki: as a single page of the wiki
  • DEVONthink: as a single note within a database
  • Bear: as a single note with an appropriate tag
  • The zettel should have a unique identifier and be able to be cross-referenced from other locations.

Beck Tench uses an icon to denote a zettel when she takes notes using TinderBox.

zettelkasten.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/24 17:40 by admin