Zettelkasten Forum

Internally vs. Externally Referenced Zettels

It seems like the major use of a ZK is to collect important and high value knowledge from external sources (e.g. book, article, etc). Then, inside the ZK, relations between Zettel are made for learning and sense-making. So, a large portion Zettels serve the purpose of capturing and reflecting external facts and ideas; that is, stuff coming from other people or the outside world.

But is the ZK also a place for your own original thoughts and ideas? That is, do you think a ZK is also appropriate for developing an original idea that does not reference or response to some other piece of knowledge? In other words, if a Zettel has no links to an external source or even to other Zettel, does it belong in the ZK?


  • Yes! :)

    I adopted the habit of putting half-assed ideas in there, too, if they sound like they could become useful. If it's not verzettelt, it does not exist; in the worst case, it never gets used, but in happier cases, a half-baked idea would pop up at unexpected times and spark new innovation.

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

  • Yes. If you really think about it there is not a real difference between those two. The external references notes are your own interpretation with a link to what you interpreted. But the thing itself is never in your archive. Therefore, only your own thoughts are in the archive. :smile:

    I am a Zettler

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