Zettelkasten Forum

The Official Luhmann Certified 100 Note Categories™

Look what I found! Late last night, in a fit of Twitter scrolling caused by too much caffeine, I stumbled across a tweet by none other than our Nichols Luhmann. At first, I questioned its authenticity, but I ended up feeling like Moses.


  1. Beginning Notes - In the beginning, on the eighth day, zettelkasting was created.
  2. Beginner Notes - These are the embarrassing notes you'll rediscover next year when you begin to understand how much you don't know about note-taking and the Zettelkasten Method.
  3. Barbell Notes - Notes made using the one-two-punch of reading advocated by Sascha Fast.
  4. Dumbbell Notes - Being the recipient of the one-two-punch because you followed the advice you read on the internets and didn't heed Sascha.
  5. Evergreen Notes - Green notes that keep their needles in the winter.
  6. Deciduous Notes - Notes where the note links periodically forget their connection to the tree. Shedding into a pile that has to be raked up and bagged.
  7. Garden Notes - Notes that are like a vegetable garden. Tended and worked all season long producing nutritious foods.
  8. Compost Heap Notes - A smelly, rotting pile of ideas that go nowhere. Pesky bugs are attracted to decomposition. The neighbors complain about the smell.
  9. Atomic Notes - Contain a succinct explanation of a unique idea.
  10. Subatomic Notes - Smaller than Atomic Notes. Quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons. And that most famous in all the kingdom of bosons the Higgs boson.
  11. Book Notes - A book condensed to a note.
  12. Class Notes - A uni class condensed to a note.
  13. Scholarly Notes - Notes taken while in college as a student or a professor.
  14. Unemployed Notes - Note taken midday, midweek, on the couch, while drinking a beer, watching football reruns.
  15. Smart-ass Notes - Sarcastic notes with not-so-subtle asinine browbeating and chest-thumping.
  16. Half-ass Notes - You might consider this a half-ass note, but I don't care what you think.
  17. Dumb-ass Notes - Confused dumpy notes with no coherent idea of meaning. Sometimes confused with a "Smart-ass Note."
  18. Smart Notes - The note itself can't be smart. Only the author can display intelligence. These notes are sometimes mistaken for "Smart Ass Notes."
  19. Dumb Notes - Vomiting the incoherent and random flotsam of millions of generations of evolutionary development onto the page.
  20. Thinking Notes - Misnamed. The note itself doesn't think. How could a few ephemeral computer bits actually think? For that matter, how could a few wetware bits under your hat holder actually think? It's a mystery.
  21. Non-Thinking Notes - I bet you thought I'd say this is a note made while in a stupor or something like that. Stop the anthropomorphism of note types.
  22. Billy-Jim-Bob Notes - These are notes with hillbilly qualities. Trying to look smart but struggling with only a third-grade vocabulary.
  23. Stub Notes - Notes composed in a fit of fury after stubbing your toe on your reading chair.
  24. Person Note - A note about an important person.
  25. Fish Note - A note about an important fish in your life. Maybe the one you eat while camping with Dad a few years ago.
  26. Graveyard Note - A spooky note with a tombstone to remind you of being buried alive in an avalanche of todos.
  27. Navel-Gazing Notes - A different type of spooky note. Filled with belly button lint debris deposited in a storm of mind weather.
  28. Meditation Note - Another type of navel-gazing note.
  29. Intellectual Note - A note made while pretending not to be navel-gazing. Usually created during a fit of stormy mind weather.
  30. Philosophical Notes - A more academic style of navel-gazing notes.
  31. Shipping Notes - Naval cargo manifest notes.
  32. Fleeting Notes - Notes that are here one minute and gone the next.
  33. Transient Notes - Notes that are dressed in old, dirty clothes, sleep on the street, pushing all their worldly possessions in a stolen shopping cart, mumbling to themselves about alien abductions.
  34. Sticky Notes - Notes that stick around like country relatives visiting.
  35. Novel Notes - These notes describe characters and scenes in my pulp romance book project Reformatory Girls on Fire.
  36. Nobel Notes - These notes are the product of connecting ideas from different domains. Notice that only the middle letter changes between Novel and Nobel. Maybe my novel Reformatory Girls on Fire will win me the Nobel in Literature.
  37. Noel Notes - Notes to add a little holiday cheer in the winter months.
  38. Bibliographical Notes - Notes with important information relevant to understanding a person's life.
  39. Diabolical Notes - Notes with important information relevant to understanding a person's evil intentions.
  40. Quote Notes - These notes are the lip flapping and hen scratching of someone besides the owner of the zettelkasten.
  41. Telephone Notes - Sometimes called Chinese Whispers. Funny errors accumulate in the re-quoting.
  42. Hear-say Notes - The initial note in a thread of Telephone Notes.
  43. Journaling Notes - Not to be confused with Kernaling, which corn does as it grows. Dekernaling is the process of eating corn.
  44. Random Notes - Miscellaneous thoughts, jokes, quotes, obscure facts, insults, questions, puns, limericks, rude poems, shopping lists, and birthday cards.
  45. Outline Notes - Detailed hierarchal phrases meant to be laid out in a way that makes some logical sense.
  46. In-Line Notes - Notes laid out with no logical order, just one random thing after another. (See Random Notes)
  47. Scratch Note - This note is printed and folded in such a way as you can use it to reach that itch in the middle of your back. aaaahh!
  48. Todo Notes - The hustle and bustle. A note documenting dreams of future work.
  49. To Don't Notes - Notes reminding you to relax and not take all this too seriously.
  50. Memorization Notes - Note containing facts and figures, data, and more data that you for some reason want to use your limited long-term memory for rather than Google search.
  51. Index Notes - Links to related info on a topic.
  52. Structure Notes - Think Ole Kirk Christiansen's Danish Legos on steroids.
  53. Buffer Note - a note used to bring up the luster of an automotive wax job.
  54. MOC Notes - Map of content Notes - Fancy pants name for Structure Notes
  55. MOC Notes (2) - Menu of Content - Meal planning tips
  56. TOC Notes - Table of contents
  57. ZOC Notes - Notes with zero original contents
  58. GTD Notes - Next action, next next, and next next next action notes.
  59. GTX Notes - Twenty "X" faster the GTD. You can get buried under a pile of crap at near the speed of light.
  60. Markdown Notes - Notes created with John Gruber's and Aaron Swartz's elegant, simple, nondistracting, easy-to-learn, plain text format
  61. Markup Notes - Notes created with Tim Berners-Lee's miss-mash soup of unintelligentable arcane codes that only a sadist could love. So complicated, everything has to be acronymized. HTML, CSS, WYSIWYG, SGML, XHTML, W3C, HREF, HTTPS, DTD, and on and on, </you_get_it.>
  62. Literature Notes - Fleeting glimpses quickly jotted down. Like butterflies, they can flutter away like drunken sailors.
  63. Permanent Notes - Fancy Literature Notes. Notes that hang around for a long time. They capture butterflies sobering up.
  64. Project Notes - Notes related to specific projects
  65. Goof-off Notes - These notes have more draw-on attention than Project Notes. The closer the project due date, the greater the pull. In some circles, these are referred to as distractions.
  66. List Notes - This is an example of a list note
  67. Technical Notes - Notes about technical stuff, duh!
  68. Topic Notes - Notes suggesting further study... like Politics, Religion, Gun Control, Education Reform, Extraterrestrial Abductions, and other non-controversial stuff.
  69. Processed Notes - Notes obsessed over. Notes reworked night and day, or at least for a few minutes.
  70. Unprocessed Notes - Notes not even read.
  71. Primary Source Note - Notes directly from the horse's mouth.
  72. Secondary Source Note - The horse whisperer's premonitions about what the horse might have said.
  73. Tertiary Source Note - Notes directly from the horse's ass.
  74. Reference Notes - Notes with information about things you want to remember.
  75. Nightmare Notes - Notes with details of events you want to forget. So, why are you keeping this??
  76. Up Beat Notes - Uplifting notes full of sappy euphemisms. They don't skimp on the emoji. :smiley::wink::blush:
  77. Down Beat Notes - No question! SMV (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten.) Jazz oh-ya!
  78. Top Level Notes - These notes are high and mighty situated at the top of the heap. All other notes are subordinate.
  79. Basement Level Notes - These make up the heap of subordinate notes. These are dusty and musty. Rarely looked at, filled with forgotten memories from forgotten events.
  80. Sketch Notes - Notes that sketch out your ideas.
  81. Sketchy Notes - Notes on how to make passive income on the web.
  82. High Fidelity Notes - Highfalutin, expensive, snobby notes that announce their accurate reproduction.
  83. Low Fidelity Notes - Lowbrow, slummy, cockney notes that don't have to pretend to be anything, including accurate.
  84. Roll-Your-Own Notes - Idea and paper roughly wrapped up in a smokeable mess.
  85. Master Note - At the top: a fat, snazzily dressed ruler of the kingdom. Lucky dog.
  86. Slave Note - A note positioned on the bottom. That which is ruled. Unlucky. Shabby dressed and under-nourished.
  87. Play Notes - Play like pirates. "Aaarrr! Ahoy me hearty! Ya old scurvy dog. Now' walk the plank off the poop deck, sleep with the fishes. Shiver me timbers!"
  88. Work Notes - Notes that hopefully lead to you getting a ration of doubloons with which to stave off starvation.
  89. Conference Notes - Boring! See Play Notes for relief.
  90. Septic Tank Notes - Smelly notes. Connected to the garbage disposal in the kitchen sink.
  91. Skeptic Tank Notes - I worry about these notes. They seem authentic, but I'm not so sure...
  92. Vocabulary Notes - Notes on words that you hope one day to slip into a casual conversation to make an impression.
  93. Definitions Notes - The definitions of the vocabulary words you want to impress people with because nobody in their right mind would actually remember what all these arcane words really mean.
  94. Writerly Notes - Notes with a focus on the life of writing.
  95. Readerly Notes - Notes with a focus on the life of reading.
  96. Final Notes - 1.) Notes supporting the biggest exam in a class. 2.) The last note made on your death bed. 3.) A combination of definitions one and two.
  97. Typological Notes - A category of notes that describe categories. Ouroboros creeps into the zettelkasten.
  98. Pedagogical Note - Notes on conceptual teaching models. Zivon and I are in the backyard pedagogicizing "Leave It!"
  99. Logical Note - To hell with the Typological and Pedagogical. Let's stick to plain old book smarts, damn it, logic rules.
  100. Zettel - Psst! I'll let you in on the secret. Lean close so I can whisper in your ear. "All notes are just notes. Some are developed to a greater degree and are more mature than others. But in the end, a zettel is a zettel. End Of Story!"

Will Simpson
I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.


  • I guess it was 1st April when that was tweeted.

  • Funny but true. I first thought this was someone trying to recreate the Luhmann Archive on twitter, which would be interesting. I experimented with creating a twitter zettelkasten but it doesn't work because you can't endlessly re-edit tweets.

  • 100 is serious commitment to a bit.

  • Thanks for sharing, Will. Enjoyed it!

    Actually, pretty good list....



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