Zettelkasten Forum


What size are your cards?

I know Luhmann used thin A6 sheets of paper.

I'm considering using A7 index cards for my main box, and A8 index cards for my bibliographical box (yes, I want to build an analogic Zettelkasten). I presume that single cards will be sufficient for my notes in most cases, and if I need some more space I can always make a "double" note by using two cards (or even more).

What do you think? What size are your cards?

Comments

  • I also have a physical zettelkasten. Because here the stationary is very basic, I mostly used cheap A5 ruled notebooks and cut them in half. Of course, the paper quality is very bad, and they aren't exactly A6, but they are serving their purpose (later I found proper index cards online, and ordered a few.).
    I also use A6 blank paper (just a4 cutted) for Bibliographical cards.

    I wonder, why you'd use cards so small? Would it not oblige you to use more?

  • I use digital, so this may not apply to you. I used to write brief cryptic notes, mere stubs. Since I started writing longer and full bodied notes, I am reaping more benefit.

    I’d hate to see you discover that while tiny cards sufficed when you started, six months down the line you either regret not using bigger or that you cramp your style to fit the medium.

  • edited June 2023

    @F_Macías said:
    I wonder, why you'd use cards so small? Would it not oblige you to use more?

    I believe that perhaps if I use smaller cards and use two or more cards when necessary, I'll spare volume and weight. I might be wrong of course, hence my question

  • @amahabal said:
    I’d hate to see you discover that while tiny cards sufficed when you started, six months down the line you either regret not using bigger or that you cramp your style to fit the medium.

    It's a risk, you're right, but I don't worry much. I guess I'll have to start a "provisory" slipbox, and see after 1 or 2 months if the cards fit to my needs. If something's wrong, I'll probably notice it quickly

  • @Lechaz said:

    @F_Macías said:
    I wonder, why you'd use cards so small? Would it not oblige you to use more?

    I believe that perhaps if I use smaller cards and use two or more cards when necessary, I'll spare volume and weight. I might be wrong of course, hence my question

    @Lechaz That really depends on the size of your handwriting. I would recommend the size of A6, so you have space for cross references and additions. Also the handling of your notes will be easier. I started with A7 and regretted it after a while, so I switched size.

  • Maybe I should go for A6 cards then… But what about using "double" slips? Is it a good or a bad idea? Do you always stick to the principle of "1 idea = 1 card"?

  • My recommendation is to use A5. In addition to that: You can assign the same ID to multiple cards, so they are functionally one zettel.

    The idea that so small cards force you to condense the ideas is a fallacy in my opinion because it introduces a cookie-cutter approach to a set of very diverse problems (each idea has very different needs)

    1. I will start an analog Zettelkasten for the short stories I will write. (I do it in the evening and want to limit screen time) I used an analog Zettelkasten as my first Zettelkasten. Not only that, but I even used A4 back then! A5 is enough to give an idea some space to breath. So, I am chosing this format from experience and my observation that most notes are underdeveloped. (Luhmann seemed to use his Zettelkasten mostly as an enrichment and creative tool, which is a lot different than I and most people use it for)
    2. This most likely the approach I will teach my daughter when she comes of Zettelkasten age.

    I am a Zettler

  • @Sascha said:
    You can assign the same ID to multiple cards, so they are functionally one zettel.

    That's exactly what I meant. And if you do so, then I guess it's possible to choose a smaller size (large enough for most notes though) and use multiple cards when necessary. Right?

  • @Lechaz said:

    @Sascha said:
    You can assign the same ID to multiple cards, so they are functionally one zettel.

    That's exactly what I meant. And if you do so, then I guess it's possible to choose a smaller size (large enough for most notes though) and use multiple cards when necessary. Right?

    I, personally, don't like the small size of the cards. I like my ideas mostly on one card. A6 almost forces me to abandon my principle of value-adding note-taking.

    The most common issue I see when reviewing smaller cards is that the content is underdeveloped. So, my working hypothesis is that A6 creates a rather negative incentive environment compared to A5.

    Look at the series on Zettelkasten for Fiction and Why the Single Note Matters to get a feel for what I mean with developed notes.

    I am a Zettler

  • I'm using the US equivalent of A6 (4 x 6") and it seems to be just about the right size for almost everything. Of course you could also have a stock of A5 on hand for larger notes, but then fold it in half and still easily file it away.

    If you tend to lean toward the smaller A7, you can obviously do the same thing with A6.

    With physical cards, the key seems to be keeping them at a uniform size so that they don't become lost between slightly larger cards. I tried adding some Exacompta Bristol cards labeled as 4x6" to my collection, but they're really 100 x 150mm, so they sit just between 4x6" and A6, which has generally been a fiasco for me. Perhaps it's for the best since they're spectacularly expensive.

    website | digital slipbox 🗃️🖋️

    No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them. —Umberto Eco

  • well now i feel a bit silly for trying to start a couple years back with 3x5s, now that I find out you're all using 4x6s and A4s/A5s....

Sign In or Register to comment.