# Zettelkasten Forum

I use A7 paper slips for my reading notes, and I know that others Zettlers use a similar approach too. But, I haven't seen much discussion about tracking related reading notes around here.

Either way, I thought of an idea that might possibly make life a little easier for us lovers of standardized reading notes. Here it goes.

We can take inspiration in Luhmann's numbering system to manage standardized reading notes, such as A7 paper slips:

• The first note gets the address "1."
• If you need to postfix a new character, alternate between numbers and letters from the alphabet.
• If you want to add content to a note, grab a new note, take the address of the first note, and postfix a new character in the new note.
• If you want to create a note about something else, increase the first character of the most recent address and remove any other characters. E.g.: If the address of the most recent note is "1b," then the new note gets the address "2."

But, we need other things too:

• Use addresses only when necessary.
• Keep track of the addresses in a separate note. You can't rely on your brain to remember the addresses.
• If a child note is shared between parent notes, add a slash to its address, followed by the address for the other parent note. E.g.: If note "1a" is also relevant to note "2," then let the address be "1a/2a."

This practice makes it easier to keep related reading notes together, such as in these use cases:

• Lists. Let's say you're taking notes on the multiple definitions of the adjective "academic" and run out of space in your note for the last definition. You could give the current note the address "1," then grab another note and label it as "1a." Now you can continue taking notes.
• Arguments. If you have multiple arguments whose conclusions share some or all of the premises, you could make a note per premise or conclusion. Then, you take advantaje of the Folgezettel technique to keep it all together. E.g.: Conclusion 1 gets the address "1" and its premise notes "1a," "1b," and so on. Conclusion 2 gets the address "2," its premise notes "2a," "2b," etc, and if "1a" is a premise of conclusion 2, label it as "1a/2c."

• From the looks of it, I can't edit the initial post. So, I'll post the new version here instead.

If you use paper slips in a particular format such as A7 to take notes, you may find yourself running out of space. E.g.: If you were taking notes on the definitions of a term, and there's not enough space for all of them in the current slip.

What you could do is to use the Folgezettel Technique on the paper slips along with a few additional rules:

• Use addresses only when necessary. E.g.: If you take note of the definition of a term and don't need to comment on it, don't give the note an address.
• Keep track of the addresses in a separate note because you may forget them.
• If you have a parent note and a child note, and the latter is the child of a different parent note as well, add a slash to its address and include the address that it would have for the other parent note. E.g.: If you have the notes "1" and "2," and the child note "1a" which is also child to "2," you turn its address into "1a/2a."

This makes it possible to make comments on specific notes. It also enables you to create as many notes as you want without creating a mess that you'd rather not look at.

However, this is a terrible solution. When you read, you capture information. So, if you're taking good notes and their format is standardized, they should each contain a sentence summarizing an idea. If you need to write more, either you chose a format too small, or are writing more than one sentence per note.

• edited August 2021

Pardon me, but I'm continually Forgezetteling what a Folgezettel is. Luhmann's numbering system for paper Zettelkasten. Your point is that you have created an unworkable extension of this? Incidentally, you can edit posts for up to four hours after the initial submission by clicking on the gear icon at the upper right corner of the post.

GitHub. Erdős #2. CC BY-SA 4.0. Problems worthy of attack / prove their worth by hitting back. -- Piet Hein.

• @ZettelDistraction

Your point is that you have created an unworkable extension of this?

No, it's not that. I basically tried to make a paper Zettelkasten using the technique but to help me when reading texts. I was trying to solve my problem of running out of space in the A7 paper slips that I use. E.g.: Running out of space to write down a list of definitions. But I realized that when you read, you're supposed to write down a one-sentence summary of the ideas. E.g.: "Zettel: An individual note."

I hope this clears things up.

Incidentally, you can edit posts for up to four hours after the initial submission by clicking on the gear icon at the upper right corner of the post.

What a shame. It's too late to edit the initial post. But, thanks for pointing this out! I'll keep it in mind.

• edited August 2021

@Dilan_Zelsky said:
But I realized that when you read, you're supposed to write down a one-sentence summary of the ideas. E.g.: "Zettel: An individual note."

Only one sentence? Perhaps it's a sign of a master to work within constraints. The OuLiPoians do this. Maybe allow yourself more than one sentence.

GitHub. Erdős #2. CC BY-SA 4.0. Problems worthy of attack / prove their worth by hitting back. -- Piet Hein.

• @ZettelDistraction

Only one sentence because that's the definition of information that Sascha Fast introduced in "Introduction to the Zettelkasten Method." Information is anything that can be summarized into a sentence and is useless unless you do something about it. That's what you take note of when you read.

I've been taking notes with this constraint for a few days, and it's been pretty helpful to get the gist rather than the details. But, I might try with more sentences later.

Thanks for the link, though. It looks interesting.