Zettelkasten Forum

Hey, and some questions

First of all sorry if questions are disliked here, and for my poor english.

A lot of dumb questions are starting to pile up in my head about actually implementing a digital zettelkasten. I have a feeling that these questions are rather common, but couldn't find any answers. So sorry if im duplicating. Im just gonna list them all, would apreciate some answers or pointers. Thanks for whatever.

  • What is your aproach to media like images and audio files? Do you avoid them all together, or store them in a seperate folder then link to them in notes? Am i missing any options?
  • Does markdown have any major advantages besides being fast to write and easy to read? I would optimally prefer a markup language like laTeX that allows mathematics etc.
  • How do you write references? Just a cite-key / id, or the whole reference? Why?
  • Is writing notes in multiple languages a bad idea? I could imagine some tag conflicts if one is not attentive. If not, do you write in your native language or something widely used like english?
  • Do you distinctify structure notes etc. with more than the content, e. g. a title prefix / tag.
  • Why doesn't this blog recommend folgezettel? Aren't they the key to recording strings of thought?
  • How do you handle conflicting information? Like, if i write something, but later realize it's false. The main three options i see is, correcting it, linking to a new note with correct information, or making something like a log.
  • Do you worry about distincting old and new text? Like if i add more information to a topic, but not in a new note, should it be clear that it was added on a later date?

One last question is not really something i need but just curiosity. Why do you stick to the name zettelkasten? It seems to subtract from the idea that it should be something personal, i don't know if it's just me, but something with an exotic name sounds like something very specific, not something flexible and wide. The name is obviously logical in germany, and is also a nice way to pay tribute to Luhmann.

Thanks for any input, sorry again for whatever.


  • Questions are more than welcomed here, though answers can come in forms of "why do you think that?" rebuttals. And I'm southern, I have no room to criticize anyone's English. :)

    For my attempts so far, I haven't done a lot with media files like images or audio/videos, at least not in the Zettelkasten itself. The notes are for connecting ideas and thoughts, and while an image or something I create could contain those, having them in plain text means I have to really be able to explain my idea well, which is a good goal to have. As for inputs, just treat them as any source for ideas.

    I do markdown specifically because it is easier to type in the moment and keep moving. I don't know enough about latex, but I would say a good measure is "can I get my idea out as best as I can without having to fight with how that idea is formatted"? Much after that is down to preference and support from the other tools you use so working with your Zettelkasten isn't a chore.

    No preference with regards to references, people make cases for either way. Full references can never be lost later on, cite-key/id is easier/simpler, etc.

    I know Sasha has spoken about doing Zettels in different languages, but he said he now does things mainly in English. He may have more to say, or just link to what he's said before.

    I've been thinking about giving Structure notes and the like a specific title/format, still with a Unique ID, as having that show up in a note list or link seems like a nice thing to have (though potentially not necessary).

    I thought folgezettel were recommended as actual zettel, and the usual thing argued against was using the unique ID system that ties the notes together to also store such hierarchical info. Maybe I'm just confused, though.

    Most likely, what you do when you "change your mind" is up to you. Personally, keeping the old thought around may be good, along with what you now think and why you changed your mind, so you can see a progression of thoughts.

    As long as the ideas are all still your ideas, age of the ideas may not matter as much, unless you want to see a clear line of thought change (as in the last point). You could add comments in some form with a datestamp if you really wanted to capture that, but otherwise I don't know how often that will help.

    As for the name, it's just what people use. I like to think of it as a "second brain", but that phrase is also being used by others for specific concepts with capturing/organizing notes in other areas. Saying it's an "archive" can also be ambiguous with backups, etc. "That, which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell just as sweet" after all, so as long as the idea is there, names are ok.

  • Thank you @mleo2003 for the full answer.

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