Zettelkasten Forum

Question on numbering

edited August 2018 in Research & Reading

Hey all! I just discovered the ZK a few days ago, and have been falling down the rabbit hole ever since :) I had a quick question on numbering and wanted to see if anyone had any insight.

I'm trying to do the ZK on index cards like the original way. Mainly because I want to get off the computer sometimes, and I feel like this could be a nice thing to get into offline. So I got my index cards and I'm starting to number them, but I quickly ran into the first question. I'll explain how I'm doing it, and then ask the question.

So let's say I'm starting with a card called "Food".
So "Food" is 1.
Then I keep writing about "Food".
So card 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, etc.
On card 1/3 about "Food" I mention "Fast Food".
So I want to branch to a "Fast Food" card.
Do I number that "Fast Food" card 1a? or 1/3a?

I feel like it should be 1a, because it doesn't really matter where I mention "Fast Food" on the "Food" topic. But I feel like some of the blog posts I've been reading, have the branch happen at the "page number"?

Or am I doing all of this all wrong? :smile:

Also, does anyone else try ZK on paper?? It seems like most people are using software.


  • It depends from which card you want to branch. If you comment on the thought of the second card your branch from there. And so on.

    I'd think that you are writing thoughts on addresses and not on cards. The card itself is mean to an end. You can give two cards the same number when your thought doesn't fit on one card. Then they have the same address and be on the same place. (Luhmann did it too).

  • Oh cool. I like the idea of thinking about it in addresses. I have a follow up question. If I branch a note to something like 1/7a, are the next notes in the 1/7a sequence 1/7a/1, 1/7a/2, etc? Or is it 1/7b, 1/7c, etc?

  • Doh, I think I get it... It's 1/7a1, 1/7a2. right? :blush:

  • edited August 2018

    To me, it looks like 1/3a would be the result of branching-off at 1/3 into "Fast Food".

    Here's an example of nesting:

    - 1
        - 1/6
        - 1/7
            - 1/7a
                - 1/7a1
                - 1/7a2
            - 1/7b
            - 1/7c
        - 1/8
    - 2

    So I think, yes, you seem to have got it right :)

    I do think that Luhmann put the / slash there because the root numbers were of some heightened importance; that's why there are two numbers (1/1, 1/2, ..., not 1/a, 1/b), contrary to the remainder of the ID string. But don't just take my word on it: I haven't took notes on the use of slashes :) As far as I'm concerned, 1a5b3 or 1/a/5/b/3 would work just as fine, only more or less noisy, and not highlighting the first number.

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

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