Zettelkasten Forum

Verzetteln as if you meant it

Verzetteln means you write a new zettel for a/every (major) thought. Cohesion between zettels can be expressed using links and/or tags.

What I've found during verzetteln of stuff I read is, that I find it useful to not force the creation of zettels.

I work in these phases:

  1. Highlight - read a text and highlight interesting passages.
  2. Index - add a bibliographic entry in an index. Use BibDesk or Zotero or whatever suites you - I settled for nVALT. I.e I'm creating a zettel for every article/book I read.
    During indexing I copy over all highlighted passages from phase 1 as quotes. Ok, only those I still find relevant ;-)
  3. Verzetteln - create zettels from the index entry.

What I mean by the subject of this posting is: I sometimes start verzetteln during step 2. Instead of creating a zettel of its own I just add my thoughts to the index entry "between the quotes". That's almost like verzetteln, it's a kind of pre-zettel - but it saves me the overhead of creating a zettel just now.

If at the end of phase 2 I decide there is enough meat on the bone of the index entry I go through the pre-zettels in it and maybe extract them into real zettels.

So during phase 2 I'm kinda faking the verzetteln :wink:


  • This sounds a lot like Tiago Forte's "progressive summarization" method that I've linked to before on this forum. Check out his blog series — he's put a lot of thought into this stuff and has some outstanding insights.

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