Zettelkasten Forum

Should I append the datetime UID to the end of the file name instead?

Hi, I am new to Zettelkasten method and trying to evaluate the format of the notes for myself. It will be for note-taking digitally.

Most software adds datetime to the beginning of the file name. It looks tidy. But a series of numbers means a little to human. If I browse through the file names in a small window of a file manager, I can only see the digits without meaningful titles.

The advantages of placing datetime to the beginning of file names is tidy and sortable. I think.

Any thought from you is appreciated. Do you think it is a good idea to append the datetime after, what is the pros and cons?


  • Welcome to the forums @linux.

    It depends on what software you are planning to use.
    Many programs support custom note names right out of the box. Some require a bit of tweaking.

    I name all my notes in the Title UUID format for the reason you point out. I made the switch when I had less than 1K of notes. I thought I'd discover some workflow snafu that would send me back, but after a year and 1500 more notes, I have forgotten what it was like to stare at a collum of UUIDs, not seeing the note titles because my laptop didn't have enough screen real-estate. I will not go back. With some regularity, I visually refer to the UUIDs, so I'm keeping them in the note file name.

    I use The Archive and have created a few Keyboard Maestro macros to fix where The Archive expects the UUID in front of the filename. But it turned out to be trivial.

    Given your user_name, I suspect you won't be using The Archive and have a bit of geekiness behind you, so unforeseen hazards can be rectified or sidesteped. GIve it a try. You can always change your mind and use a cmd-line tool to mass rename the files or a SQL-query in the case of a DB to change things.

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”

  • If you're using The Archive (which is great, by the way), it is probably simpler to go with the flow, and use a datestamp at the beginning of a filename. That way, you can place a link around only the datestamp and clicking on it will go directly to the page. (This gives you freedom to change the rest of the filename later if you want.) If the datetime is at the end of the filename, a link to the datetime will bring up a list of search results, probably containing two files – the target file, and the file containing the link to it.

    It does add a clutter of numbers, but a datestamp is often intrinsically useful at the start of a filename.

    You can use the built in datestamp, which looks like this: 20220319113 (that is, year, month, day, hours, minutes). Personally, I prefer to make my own, which matches the datestamps I already use. It has this format: 2022-03-19 113333. Either one works fine.

    What I would normally do is have a top-level document, and enter a datestamp and title.

    2022-03-19 113333 More thoughts on project

    When I've finished typing, I cut the text, put double brackets around the whole title, then click on it and hit enter to create a new file named "2022-03-19 113333 More thoughts on project.txt". I then paste the text inside the new document.

    I then go back to the top level document and change the double-bracketed link so, instead of surrounding the whole title, it just surrounds the datestamp. Now I can can freely change the document filename if I want to and it won't break any links.

  • @Will good to know you are doing well. I am modifying some open source project on Windows for my own sake. But as @DuncanMKZ said, compatibility is the another point. I found a great app Zettel Notes on Android, probably the best, but it follows the datetime convetion. I don't know how to write Android apps. Using someone else's work is always a temptation.

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