# Im new and have questions

edited March 24

Hey,
I'm new to the Zettelkasten Method and have some questions I can't really find an answer to.
How long should a Note be? Here comes a lot of bla-bla, just skip to the Itaic part: I summarised the introduction to the Zettelkasten (this -> °Link°) to get an overview etc. and used 1700 words, but i think thats to much especially if I took a look at the Luhmanns Archive. I worked like with a Word document, so I made different headings and summarised different chapters of the text under them. (I copied a lot although you're not supposed to do that)
Now I'm wondering: how many notes should you make for a source (book, website), one or more, is there a limit or an ideal value? I was also wondering what the different notes should contain. (I've heard it should be a thought, no matter what type of note, but I don't know when my thought is finished... xD.)
So: how long should the different note types (literature and permanent) be, what should they contain and how many should I make on a certain topic or source? (no bla-bla anymore)

It would be nice if you could take a look at the first 2 or 3 "chapters" (link above) and tell me what your Zettel would look like.
I would also appreciate it if you could show me what your note box looks like (the note types (MoC's or hub-notes) etc.) so that I can get an idea of a digital note box. It would help me a lot.

cheers.

• How long should a note be?

I'm going to take a little detour to answer (as best I can) this question.

When we think, there is a maximum limit of complexity that we can have in mind at any given time.

When we apply the Zettelkasten method, we seek to develop tools and workflows that allow us to overcome this limit of processing complexity.

This increase in our ability to process complexity consists of at least two strategies:

• breaking down a complex idea into simpler sub-ideas
• increasing our working memory.

The length of a note directly affects these two processes:

• Using short notes tends to favour these two processes.
• And conversely, extremely long notes tend to hinder them.

So how long does a note have to be?

Long enough to explore the complexity of an idea, but short enough to ensure (i) that you are breaking down complex ideas into simpler ones and (ii) that the information in a note can be easily "loaded" into your working memory.

How many notes should you make for a source (book, website), one or more, is there a limit or an ideal value?

As many as you need to correctly understand the ideas (that interest you) from that source. It is not possible to define a limit or an ideal value a priori: it depends on the quality and length of the source, your interest on that source and how much time do you want to invest in processing that source.

I was also wondering what the different notes should contain. (I've heard it should be a thought, no matter what type of note, but I don't know when my thought is finished... xD.)

This is one of the most "difficult" parts of the Zettelkasten method because identifying and separating individual thoughts (and arguments) is a skill of related to knowledge work (not the Zettelkasten method): it is your ability to think.

The Zettelkasten is the place where you can develop your thinking, but it does not do the thinking for you (although it is a tool that can enhance it).

It would be nice if you could take a look at the first 2 or 3 "chapters" (link above) and tell me what your Zettel would look like.
I would also appreciate it if you could show me what your note box looks like (the note types (MoC's or hub-notes) etc.) so that I can get an idea of a digital note box. It would help me a lot.

Here you have my main structure note for the Zettelkasten method. However, this note needs a serious rework because it is incomplete and outdated. The "-S-" is the way I define a note is a structure note (I use that both in the title of the note and as a tag #-S-).

# 20231014104953 -S- The Zettelkasten Method
#-S- ##zettelkasten

Formalities:
Formalities in Zettelkasten are not thinking............................[[202311181059]]
Use formalities for thinking and learning...............................[[202311181111]]
Formalities are a necessary evil........................................[[202311181119]]
The Zettelkasten method is deep thinking................................[[202401150829]]

Structure and structures in the Zettelkasten:
-S- Structure notes.....................................................[[202310181015]]
-S- How to identify and tag structure notes.............................[[202310181017]]

Using and learning the Zettelkasten:
-S- Understanding the goal simplifies learning Zettelkasten.............[[202401190825]]
-S- How to have time for the Zettelkasten methodology...................[[202312181953]]
-S- The Zettelkasten method for writing fiction.......................[[20231016134543]]
-S- How to start a writing project in your Zettelkasten.................[[202310181019]]
-S- How to combine a journal and a Zettelkasten.........................[[202312050811]]

The Zettelkasten method is not a writing tool...........................[[202401180840]]
The Zettelkasten method is a processing method........................[[20231014151211]]
The Zettelkasten method is deep thinking................................[[202401150829]]
Zettelkasten is more useful the more you need to think..................[[202401180848]]
What is the difference between information and knowledge? #next
Zettelkasten is a suitable environment for thinking...................[[20231014152718]]
The zettelkasten should be a familiar place.............................[[202310191048]]
The reverse chronological order is familiar in a Zettelkasten...........[[202310231328]]

Note types:
Define the type of note by its function.................................[[202312121026]]

How to implement a Zettelkasten with Vim:
How to rename the title of zettels with Vim.............................[[202310261047]]


“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” —Isaac Newton
eljardindegestalt.com

• edited March 25

@FernandoNobel has already posted a very good answer to this important question. :-)

Rather than "short" and "long" notes, it's better for me considering how many different "ideas/thoughts/views" a single note describes.

The principle of having one idea per note brings many important advantages. Doing the notes in this way, it is easier make a network that grows over time, reusing single thoughts in different places and developing interconnections between different thoughts.
It could be useful think notes as lego bricks. When they are small and numerous they can be composed in a more powerful and flexible way.

One idea per note is a guideline rather than a rule, anyway. Rather than following it blindly, the rule to follow is "do what you feel useful for you".

It's important to consider, too, that everyone has to find the right granularity of his notes, according to his style, attitudes, purpose and goals, subject of study.
I'm an engineer and I apply Zettelkasten to my fields of work and study, having my background and goals it's very unlikely that I can develop the same structure of Luhman notes :-)

Just for your example, I consider these thoughts in my post parts of the zettelkasten method (better, what is my own view of zettelkasten), but I don't write all this stuff in the main zettelkasten note, every principle I've exposed can be placed in its own note, described and developed better there, even independent from zettelkasten. In my note system, the many different notes about "note atomicity" are related to Zettelkasten, but they can also used outside the zettelkasten context. I could potentially develop a theory of atomic notes outside the zettelkasten, and link this theory to other methods and other contexts, too. If I place the theory of atomic notes into the zettelkasten note, when I have to refer it I can only link the entire zettelkasten note. For example, I find may concepts of zettelkasten in the Digital garden of Andy Matuschak, too. If these concepts have their own notes, I can easily refer them in both contexts without writing them twice.

In this way the Zettelkasten main note tend to become a structure note, very similar to @FernandoNobel zettelkasten note. The titles of the notes summarize the ideas that are developed into the dedicated notes.

Post edited by andang76 on