Zettelkasten Forum

How granular is too granular?

@ctietze has talked about the Principle of Atomicity. I agree it is necessary into order to allow for the maximum flexibility and specificity in recombination of zettels. But what is the optimal level of granularity?

Generally, when reading a text, a single paragraph represents a single idea. Thus, one could easily make a zettel for each sole idea expressed in that paragraph. That adds up to a lot of zettels very quickly.

On the other hand, you could try to condense some related ideas around a larger idea. This economizes your note-making but slightly reduces your ability to recombine specifically those 'sub-ideas' that are contained within the larger note.

How do you all judge the level of granularity of your notes?


  • My iterative system saves me from having to answer this question a priori. :smile:

    I have an auto-generated list of the largest zettels, and several times a week I start at the top of the list, and edit down and/or split up the largest zettels if it makes sense to do so, while looking to improve the web of links.

    If I ever want to link to part of a zettel, I split that part out into its own zettel and link to it from both places.

    Occationally, I'll also combine zettels -- this usually happens when they originally came from different sources and eventually got split down to their current granularity, where they are talking about essentially the same thing.

    If I'm unsure of whether to split something, either I do or I don't, and then later on, either keep the decision or reverse it. nothing is written in stone.

  • I follow a similar process as @MobRules I just write notes and I split as a note becomes to big.

    A rule of thumb might be that a note should not be longer than a screen so you don't have to scroll.

    I am a Zettler

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