Zettelkasten Forum

What exactly is a note sequence?

Newbie question: In recent discussions around Folgezettel one often reads about "note sequences". My understanding so far has been that they are either continuations of a thought on physical Zettels (Z1: bla bla bla (Z1 is full), Z2: bla bla bla, ...) or branches from words or ideas (Z1: foo bar baz, Z2: bar bar blub, Z3: blub blub blub). I hope you get the idea.

Anyways, I feel I am missing something about note sequences here. If there is really something else meant by "note sequence", could someone please post a simple example to clarify the term for me?


  • It's just a notation to easily see how your ideas flow when you look at the the index.

    Alphanumerically, notes are arranged like


    So clearly you can see that 1 is followed by 1a, by 1a1, by 1a2, and so on.

    Idk if the problem is obvious already, but the working "principles" behind this default way of using Folgezettel has major issues that make it impractical to use—that's what I've been trying to solve the past months. For example, when 1a is followed by 1b but 1a has too many continuations (1a1 up to 1a30, for instance), then 1b becomes too far from 1a—defeating the purpose of "easily being able to see connections from the index". I hope I can explain it more clearly than this.

    Anyway, you can see my posts in this forum about it.

  • In old comments and eventually my post on the kinds of ties, I used "note sequence" as an attempt to provide a literal translation of Folgezettel. Doesn't mean that others talk about the same thing, though :)

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

  • Thanks a lot for the quick response, guys. I do understand the concepts you are talking about but I have a bit of a hard time coming up with concrete examples.

    From your post, @ctietze, would you consider the Plato notes a note sequence or are they merely grouped?

    I guess my problem lies with the term "sequence" because I understand it as one thing coming after the other. So an example would be something where an idea builds on top of another idea. But would you also consider the case where one note leads you to thinking about another idea and writing that down (basically my 2nd case above) as a note sequence?

  • I'd have to see Dan's notes to be certain about that. So far, I can only say was grouping notes by author and topic.

    The result, as anything that is presented on a computer in a linear fashion, aka a list, can be consumed as a sequence. (See "juxtaposition": what is shown together is thought of as belonging together.) But I think Dan's notes are not meant to be read in that particular order.

    Note sequences/Folgezettel encode their being-in-a sequence. With my timestamp-based Ids, I can "only" achieve that through direct links that point forward, since the time is irrelevant for the content (but not for me as I review periods in my life chronologically).

    Your 1st example puts notes in a sequence because you run out of space and continue the thought on another note.

    Your 2nd example ... depends on your intention? :) I could see why you put these notes in a sequence, maybe because you find they have to be read in that order for maximum benefit. Then, yes. If you just continue a random train of thought, then maybe no, maybe you producing them sequentially/one after another is just accidentally so. (Like my chronological order of notes not giving away how to navigate through the web.) In that case, you maybe want to create a totally different path through your web of notes so you intentionally put notes into a sequence for consuming.

    Imagine Luhmann reading a paper; he has an idea, creates a new note. Where to put it? It's related to X, so he looks up in his Zettelkasten and finds a place where the new note could belong. He maybe follows a couple of links to see where he really should put it. Then he inserts the note and encodes its being-in-a-sequence in the ID. This is intentional. If he had simply put the note at the "end" of all his existing notes, then that'd be a arbitrary. It's still one note after another, all notes are in a sequence, but it's not a bona fide Note Sequence in terms of a literal translation of Folgezettel.

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

  • Thanks @ctietze that seems to clear things up for me.

    Personal conclusion: My notes form a web of ideas; I can group them, impose orders and hierarchies. There are different tools available like tags, keyword searches or structure notes to accomplish this.

  • Sounds about right to me! :)

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

  • To handle this matter, it is important to be clear on the different levels of analysis:


    My notes form a web of ideas.

    is mixture of different levels of analysis. Notes that a linked form a web of notes. A note aims to map an idea. The web of notes aims to map the web of ideas. It is like the sentence:

    My neurones form a web of ideas.

    This is an incoherent statement.

    The issue of Folgezettel vs other techniques (like Structure Zettel or direkt links) is a matter of mapping in a pragmatic way. Whatever you do, you need to seperate those levels of analysis.

    I am a Zettler

  • Oh no I fell for a category mistake, too, in this colloquial summary 😭 (Sequence of notes vs sequence of ideas.)

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

  • @Sascha said:
    Notes that a linked form a web of notes. A note aims to map an idea. The web of notes aims to map the web of ideas.

    Thanks for the clarification. If I understand correctly, it doesn't impact the conclusion, though. Or does it?

  • @nistude There are several possible fallacies that could arise from this category mistake. You could create webs of notes that do not map the the web of ideas (looking at you Folgezettel and other non-semantic links). That is one example.

    I am a Zettler

  • Good point, thanks.

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