I believe, "Effective learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge", is essential reading
Link to the article: https://www.supermemo.com/en/archives1990-2015/articles/20rules
Dr Piotr Wozniak created Supermemo, one of the first spaced-repetition software (One of his older Supermemo algorithms has been borrowed and turned into Anki), in order to optimally memorize information. As expected, he had to come up with his own workflow for creating cards (so that he'd have content to memorize of course). His (note)card creation process is the basis of his article, "Effective learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge". Every new Anki user has been probably gone through this article at some point. I find that his process and reasoning behind it agrees overall with Christian and Sascha's principles on creating notes for a Zettelkasten.
DISCLAIMER: Please take my with as a grain of salt; They are just a summary and my opinion of it. He does of wonderful job of explaining everything in his article, so I urge you to read it, even if you disagree with me.
One common theme in his article that I found extremely enlightening is his adherence to simplicity. He insists on making his cards extremely simple, a notion extremely reminiscent of Christian and Sascha's principle of atomicity. Doing so makes the card easier to remember. In contrast, he claims complex notes are like navigating a labyrinth. I can attest to that! My notes are easy to reread and memorize due to their simplicity, thereby saving me time when it comes to card reviews. Before that, I was wasting time trying to understand what that one complex idea, that I wrote a while back, meant. He also emphasizes the importance of making cards for the basics. His reason is that the basics are the foundation for higher-level information and not having the basics as cards that are already memorized will slow you down, or even prevent you from reaching the higher level information. Looking at this at a Zettelkasten point of view, I think he would also suggest that you link the basics to higher-level information regardless of how trivial the connections already were, in order to make traversing and communication with the Zettelkasten more efficient. This runs contrary to the idea that the Zettelkasten is only for the discovery of new ideas. Making connections between two or more existing notes just to make a deduction to another existing note may not lead to new insights, but it may optimize the network that holds all your notes - when you go back to that conclusive note, you'd go "oh, this is how I got this note, it was because of these other notes". Sometimes, you may forget the most trivial of things. (I know I'm talking about structure notes. I'm just reinventing the wheel here - I'm an unfocused amateur writer and that's personally why I need the Zettelkasten. Just forget this part if you find it redundant)
The most interesting part of the article to me was how he formatted his cards:
Here, each Q&A represents a single notecard.
When I first saw this example (which was before I came across any information on knowledge-work and metaknowledge), I was completely astonished. I never knew one could even make notes as simple and concise as this. As a student, I was so used to reading long, wordy, and dense arguments from external sources like textbooks and peer reviewed articles from jstor, that my writing - the way I took notes - would come out the same exact way. Well, that may be pretty normal for anyone who tries to read up on a subject they know nothing about. But I never thought of simplifying my notes further (which, on this forum, we would call converting literature notes to permanent notes). I think when Christian and Sascha mentioned that the principle of atomicity involved giving each card a single idea, Wozniak's example is exactly what they meant. The hyper-fragmentation of his notes reminded me of how as a child, schools would teach us each letter of the alphabet before even putting them together.
However, after seeing a lot of examples of Zettelkastens posted on here, I honestly had doubts about this article and the future of my note taking. Many other Zettelkastens that I saw had notes that were like A4-size pages each (a little bit of an exaggeration) compared to what Wozniak did in his example. They were the kind of notes that Wozniak said would bog down retention (I don't want to bring up names or alienate anyone). This lead me to wonder a lot about the users on this forum. I'm aware that there tons of graduate students on this forum. Genuinely speaking, perhaps they possess higher intelligence than me and therefore don't need to make their notes that simple? Maybe they understand their long notes easily enough that they don't need to simplify it further and what is short to them is long to me? Maybe they are so high up in their field of study that the rhetorics they use are unable to be simplified even further? What do you make of this article? Is Wozniak's hyper fragmentation unnecessary? Was Wozniak onto something or am I taking crazy pills and wasting my time? Personally, the amount of time it takes to divide information into the tiniest of pieces is the only potential problem I see with this method. I don't think it hurts to format my notes this way.
As a Zettelkasten user and an Anki user, I format my notes the exact same way Wozniak does:
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