Zettelkasten Forum


Hi all,

I recently started using Zettelkasten on index cards, and it's been very useful. I read How to Take Smart Notes, and implement something close to that. But, I haven't figured out how to keep a good index. The book doesn't say very much about the index; only that Luhmann did have on, and that the index doesn't need to be exhaustive because it only has to point you into "entry points" which allow you to find everything else by following connections.

As the size of my collection of notes increases, this is becoming more important. Computer-based systems would probably be easier to handle in this respect (if only because of search functionality), but I like having a paper system.

Is there anything written about how Luhmann's index worked? How do other people keep an index? If you use the branching alphanumeric number system like Luhman, do you give your index an address within that system, or keep it seperate? How extensive is your index and how do you keep it organized? Is it just a flat list? What's your trigger to add an index entry? Do you ever get rid of old index entries or totally rewrite your index? Do you find that your index gets too large and requires a meta-index? Do you find that your index is chronically too short and can't keep up with the rate you create new important clusters of cards?

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