Zettelkasten Forum

Referencing my ZK in book annotations


With what remains of my winter break I am doing some self-study and review. I'm reading a short textbook that was optional for a course last term, in the hopes of learning material better by (1) seeing it presented differently and (2) not having the pressure of deadlines. Most important, many of the topics covered already have notes in my ZK.

When I started, this process meant that I would add to pre-existing Zettels with clarifications or elaborations and cite the book in question. A deeply-engrained habit of mine is also to annotate in the margins of a book as a part of building those connections.

Today, a concept mentioned tied into a Zettel from another class. I opted for cf. [[UID]] notation.

Nevertheless, is there a best practice for referencing a Zettel from outside the system, especially on paper?

What workflow do you have that supports pointing you into your ZK from other sources?


  • In my task files, I stick to something like See [[202101052018]] Title-or-short-summary-here, so it's very similar to what I consider good linking practice inside the Zettelkasten.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze , is this pape or digital or both? Digital linking I get, but my question is more about pointing myself back to my ZK from textbooks.

  • @Sociopoetic I should've added that apart from 1 or 2 times in a note book, I never linked from paper to digital, so I deliberately cannot say much on that, only on referencing Zettel from outside the system but still on a computer :)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • I never reference specific notes in my Zettelkasten but rather give future self a task.

    For example, I might read Nietzsche and put in the margins "vgl. Buddh." (English: Compare with Buddhism). If I process this paragraph I do that.

    I think the connection to a specific note in the margin is narrowing the path of action to early. So, I train myself not to think in terms of notes but in terms of territory to explore. Some is already explored and mapped out in my Zettelkasten and some not.

    Additionally, it pulls me away from the text and my thoughts if I'd engage with my Zettelkasten. It is enough for my brain to focus on the ideas in the text and in my mind. If I'd interrupt the process and the flow I'd slow myself down and decrease my concentration (and therefore creativity).

    I am a Zettler

  • @Sascha, this is a good point on getting pulled away from the text. Still, I'd like to discuss this a bit more. In the case of the text I am working through, I have a basic-level working knowledge of most concepts and this book is helping me flesh out that knowledge -- in some cases, a lot: I made 24 new links in my ZK yesterday based on processing a chapter. To those notes themselves, I only added a handful of sentences total, and two direct quotes.

    However, I also processed in my ZK after reading each section, rather than doing the chapter (or book) as a whole...

    Based on your practice, would you encourage something different? If so, what would you include as marginalia? (Or, are marginalia a kind of "fleeting notes"?)

  • Or, are marginalia a kind of "fleeting notes

    This. I separate the two parts of processing:

    1. Capturing the essence of an idea (argument, theory, model, etc.)
    2. Integrating it into the already existing knowledge structure

    If I am reading a book I don't remove my eyes from it. It interrupts the concentration. I focus on one thing and one thing only.

    But I am not sure what you trying to get across. What is the exact problem you want to solve?

    I am a Zettler

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