Zettelkasten Forum

Structure zettels vs zettels with lot of links

Referring to the Ratio of content to structure notes? topic: What distinguishes structure zettel from a zettel that contains many links?

In my opinion, a structure zettel that only lists links without subordination (example) is no different from a zettel that explains a topic and the keywords are links to the appropriate zettels (example). Ultimately, the goal of both is to find the relevant zettels in one place and to explain, on some level, what the relationship is between those zettels. Because of this, I donā€™t feel the need to even mark structure zettels with a tag. In addition, if the "talkative" structure zettel develops over time as I learn more about a topic and place new links in this existing zettel, I will most likely forget to add the structure zettels tag.

What are your opinions? How do you create structure zettels?


  • @bimlas I'm not sure about the distinction you are making between structure notes and a "zettel that contains many links". Here is how I think about them (and sometimes I believe we have a hard time talking about structure notes because we all have a slightly different definition of what they are and a different understanding of what they can do for us):

    1. Most of my "normal" zettels have 2 to 5 connections to other zettels (but some have only 1 and a very few have none - yet). My purpose in doing that is to link each zettel to other zettels to which it is closely related or to which there is a flow of logic or pattern of thought. There is no point in linking one zettel to tens or hundreds of other zettels (to be extreme), as the connections then become very tenuous. I am just trying to create a thought chain and so I want each zettel to connect to its closest companions or neighbours in that thought chain. If I do it prudently, I can fairly easily recreate that thought chain by following connections between zettels.
    2. To me, a structure zettel is one that attempts to define some structure that might apply to a set of zettels, typically when they are all about one subject or bigger idea. My structure notes may contain 10 to 20 links (for example) and the main difference is that I try to create the list of zettels on the structure note in a logical order, and sometimes even group them into smaller ideas, that form part of the larger concept or subject.
    3. None of this forces any particular zettel to only be part of one thought chain. While there may be a link to a particular zettel on a structure note, that particular zettel may also be linked to other zettels that are not on that structure note and may not even be related to most of the zettels on that structure note.
    4. I've seen on this forum that some people like to mostly work by creating structure notes, with a list of zettels (basically just the titles), then write the full text of the zettels afterwards. I think that works well when you are researching and learning a lot about a particular topic, say as a student or as a fiction or non-fiction writer. At my stage in life, I'm more interested in just capturing all the stuff that has accumulated over the last 60+ years and is now rolling around in my brain, so I tend to let the zettels "pop out" under their own steam (prompted by conversations or pondering), focus on writing them, and then figure out how they fit into the larger ZK by establishing connections and adding tags. Every once in a while, a structure note makes itself evident as well. Note that I still actively pursue learning new concepts, so writing zettels from what I've just learned also gets added into the mix.
    5. I notice that despite these two very different ways of creating zettels and adding structure notes, I still end up with a structure note / zettel ratio similar to many others - somewhere around 10:1. That doesn't mean every structure note has 10 zettels on it, on average and it also doesn't mean every zettel is on at least one structure note (probably only about 1/2 of mine are, or less).

    I hope this gives you a view into how one person uses structure notes and how they get created. There will be many other ideas about this, depending on who is sharing their experiences and thoughts. Use what makes sense and leave the rest for a later date!

  • @GeoEng51, YOU copied ME almost identically! All I can say is......great minds think alike. šŸ˜‰

  • I think notes with a lot of links can be Structure Notes but the don't have to be. A Structure Note is a note that is about the relationships between other notes as they are constituted by the content and the knowledge structure. So, you can have a lot of links without the note being about the relationships but just using them as reference or something similar.

    I am a Zettler

  • @bimlas said:
    What are your opinions? How do you create structure zettels?

    In the beginning, most of my hub/structure notes were index, table of content, glossary, tag list types of notes, and primarily for curating and navigational entry points. As time has passed, adding structure and context has increased its value for my future self. Also, I found I didn't think in terms of rich structure contextual notes and mostly worked bottom-up, and after finishing a note, I would make sure there was some linked path back to an index type a note. As I began to add more structure and context to the high-level notes, I started more notes as top-down notes that grew richer in structure and context over time. Thinking about the types of notes and the number of links became less of a focus. As you progress and gain momentum, you transition for being careful and deliberate, you relax and switch to using and doing.

    I am typing like I know what I am doing, but I am actually still learning and growing and figuring things out.

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