# Linking new permanent notes to existing ones

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well. Greetings from Chile.

I hope you can help me. When working on my zettelkasten, I want to link my new permanent notes to old permanent notes, whose number is growing over time, obviously. Because of this large number, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to find an existing permanent note to link with. I wish you could advise me how to make this task easier or how you do it.

## Comments

• edited September 7

@zappino4, greetings from Idaho.

Tell us what a "large number" is? I have the opposite problem/opportunity when I link new notes into my zettelkasten. I tend to get 2-10 candidates or more, of which I have to review each to determine appropriateness. I use full-text search for key terms, key phrases, and focused ideas as queries. Some of the "old" linked notes will get new links towards the new note, and some won't, depending on the content and the ideas. Remember, we are linking ideas not notes.

I use The Archive to host my zettelkasten. Which tool do you use? Are all your notes hosted in the same system?

Post edited by Will on

Will Simpson
I'm a zettelnant.
Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
kestrelcreek.com

• Sounds a bit paradoxical since the more notes you have the more possibility of connection there is.

I am a Zettler

• @Will I believe you meant to write "Remember, we are linking ideas, NOT notes." Just in case anyone was confused

Personally, I don't use any concept of "permanent" notes, and I don't worry in the slightest about linking. I blithely assume that links will suggest themselves at some point while I'm working with my notes. Though in some cases there will be notes that don't really seem to link to anything because they are "outliers" in some way. That does not bother me. I can usually find stuff by some method or another.

• Thank you very much for your responses, gentlemen.

Of course @Will, we must connect ideas, not notes. As a tool, I use Obsidian, as I am a Windows user, does Obsidian make any difference that you know of? I could really use that information.

For me, many notes are approx. 500. Indeed, @sfast there are more connection possibilities than I find using the search function. However, there are too many options and searching for them one by one within those options is quite slow.

For this reason, I was asking if you had any magic trick to solve my problem.

• @zappino4 I think reading this will be instructive: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/three-layers-structure-zettelkasten/

The solution from the post is to introduce higher-level structures.

Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

• Thanks very much @ctietze

• @zappino4 said:
I use Obsidian, as I am a Windows user, does Obsidian make any difference that you know of? I could really use that information.

Obsidian on Windows is a fine tool to host your zettelkasten. I don't think there is a difference.

For me, many notes are approx. 500. Indeed, @sfast there are more connection possibilities than I find using the search function. However, there are too many options and searching for them one by one within those options is quite slow.

For this reason, I was asking if you had any magic tricks to solve my problem.

Congratulations! This is a sign of advancement.

Ah, I see the problem now. It is not that you have too few potential candidates for linking but that you are looking for a "magic trick" to make that appropriate selection from the potential candidates. I'm happy to report that there is no magic trick. The mental work of determining the appropriateness of a link candidate is the work that grows your network of knowledge. Magic, shortcuts, and the offloading to algorithms would accrue the knowledge to the magic, shortcut, or algorithm, not you personally.

I know the feeling when I'm looking for links candidates, and suddenly I'm presented with 30 hits in a search. I'll say, "Crap! I don't have the time to read and ponder each hit!" I realize I have made my search too broad. What I do in this case is refine my search!

I consider many hits, on a refined search, a sign of a couple of things. The number of these hits lands on a spectrum, so the impact, <5, has little impact, and >15, elevates the idea.

1. This is a subject I've met before.
2. This is a subject of one of my key areas of focus.
3. I am reaching (slowly) a level of sophistication in my research (understanding) in this subject.
4. This is a subject where a structure note is called for.
5. Maybe I should pour more attention into this subject.

This is a situation with potential, requiring more sophisticated searches that narrow the potential hits.

#### /confession/

I sometimes take the perpetual procrastinator's option and move the note into my #proofing workgroup for consideration later when I can devote more time.

#### /end_confession/

Will Simpson
I'm a zettelnant.
Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
kestrelcreek.com

• @Will @zappino4 There is one key difference with Obsidian (program that I mainly use). For linking they have some sort of backend way of linking you directly to a file. Which is in contrast to The Archive and Zettlr, which uses link as search, where clicking a link searches for that file.

I wish Obsidian had the link as search option. Because they don't, this makes me stray away from using unique identifiers as they become a pain in the butt. Where you have to manually put [[Time ID Filename|Time ID]] instead of it just automatically putting [[Time ID]] only, as Zettlr and The Archive (I think) does.

Obsidian search is also crappy in my opinion. It may be that I'm an idiot and am not using it properly, but when I search for a file name, it allows you to sort the results by "A to Z, Modified Time, or Created Time". In reality what I would like is for it to search first for an exact match in the Filenames, than in the headers, than in the body of the notes.

I think the developers implemented the Zettelkasten IDs in their system because it is highly requested without actually understanding how it is implemented in other programs such as Zettlr and The Archive. Maybe this will be changed in the future or someone will develop a plugin. Regardless, I still like Obsidian a lot.

• Howdy gentleman,

@Will, I really enjoyed your article as I couldn't agree more with everything you wrote. Every additional sentence you write gets closer to my problem. The cool summary of it all, is your confession about the #proofing strategy which is exactly what I do obviously with a tag in Spanish....

@Nick thank you very much, completely agree, I consider Obsidian has a very basic search tool, insufficient to help solve this problem. About the Id: have you checked the plug in it has available? Seems to me that would solve your problem. Or, I didn't understand you correctly.

I am seriously evaluating migrating to Supernotes, after a long review of many tools, and it seems to handle this challenge better. However it is a tool that is in its infancy and has the serious problem that the files are stored in the cloud and not on my hard drive. It allows a download to markdown, which would allow to flee from there in a hurry in case of problems.

May you all be well.

• @zappino4

I'm curious - why would you choose software that stores in the cloud (not on your computer) and which has a (rather hefty) monthly subscription charge? Supernotes must be a superwonderful program.

• @GeoEng51: It's not that wonderful. I would say it's just good. For me, just for me, Supernotes is better than Obsidian and only where I need it. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend it as better for all users or all uses.

• @Will said:
1. This is a subject I've met before.
2. This is a subject of one of my key areas of focus.
3. I am reaching (slowly) a level of sophistication in my research (understanding) in this subject.
4. This is a subject where a structure note is called for.
5. Maybe I should pour more attention into this subject.

I think @Will is spot on.

Local structure is often the natural result of association elaboration.

I'd make one primary suggestion that you've probably heard-- but I think its worth being repeated often :

1. We are all conditioned to write associatively; i.e., by the time we 'complete' a note, we often have connected our initial idea-sparks to with several others, naturally and fluidly -- even compactly -- which is fantastic.
2. This presents a rich opportunity: the associations made as spawn from the initial germ of thought are themselves often noteworthy.
3. To capitalize on this, Link as you go -- create links to notes that don't exist. Sure these unfermented singularities are waiting for a bit of warmth and mind-yeast, but as associations to your current thoughts, they are the prime candidates for elaboration.

(In most software all you need to do is place double brackets around a term and that term becomes the subject of a new note + a link is generated from the note in which you bracketed the term to the new note stubble)

This gives you three things:

• A way to measure the atomic nature of your note: a note with an exorbitant number of potential out-links is likely covering more than one idea.
• A way to build local structure, in the moment, born of sheer thought propinquity.
• A task: to elaborate the fledgling notes you generated though the above process.

Finally @Will makes an excellent point brining up structure notes at this point: as we build local structure, link-hopping or even full-text searching--- just to recall content -- can be tedious. If you create a structure note (and you can have levels of structure notes) then, with well-tempered titling and clear note characterization, you can begin to view local structures that sum to greater and greater units within your zk -- without obsessive tagging or folders.

Lastly, I can't stress the importance of this enough: take the advice of many here and make sure you explain to your future self, plainly and generally, why you linked to a given note: motivate your motivation. This link context will become invaluable as a mechanism of triage when deciding on paths to take in reviewing and working with notes. After all, the most significant and interesting links are those that are not self-evident.

Best,

Bradford

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