# Zettel Filename format

edited November 2020

I am starting on my first Zettelkasten having recently read the “How to make Smart Notes” book and roamed around the web looking for good sites on this method.

I have started with the format title (hyphens instead of spaces)-UID.md Examples are promises-202011241042.md and spring-async-method-202011241532.md

The reasons for this naming format are:

• avoiding spaces in the filenames in case I want to do some scripting,
• UID at end since I find it easier to read that way (especially in the wiki links)

Can anyone point out any disadvantages of this naming convention before I go too far in and want to change it?

Filename Format Options
1. Start
100.00%
2. End
0.00%
3. Don't use it
0.00%
1. Yes
70.00%
2. No
30.00%

• edited November 2020

@SteveH1UK

I do put spaces in my filenames - I find those more readable. If I have to refer to a file name which contains spaces, then I replace the spaces with %20, such as:

file:///Users/johnsobkowicz/Dropbox/zettelkasten/media/Frazz_Risk%20to%20Individual.png

where the file name is "Frazz_Risk to Individual.png".

(Frazz, along with Pearls Before Swine, Calvin and Hobbes, and Get Fuzzy are frequent sources of inspiration and so get referenced once in a while in my ZK).

• @SteveH1UK said:
I have started with the format title (hyphens instead of spaces)-UID.md Examples are promises-202011241042.md and spring-async-method-202011241532.md

The reasons for this naming format are:

• avoiding spaces in the filenames in case I want to do some scripting,

If my scripting requires a namespace without spaces, I add the conversion of spaces to whatever is required when I build the script. It could be that the application I'm scripting for might require - or _ or %20 or a case change. These are trivial to do, and I wait and do them as needed.

• UID at end since I find it easier to read that way (especially in the wiki links)

Can anyone point out any disadvantages of this naming convention before I go too far in and want to change it?

I want to do this also, but for different reasons. I find the UID's occupy prime valuable screen real estate. I use The Archive and am experimenting with this format. At first glance, The Archive seems to have a particular way of handling linking that currently precludes a smooth transition to UID's being at the end of the file names.

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

• Thanks Will

I have been using both "The Archive" and VS Code (with Markdown extensions). Oddly the wiki link in VS code breaks if you have spaces in the filename.

I agree though that the UID at the start of the file does make you want to expand the file explorer which is not always good. My main gripe is the readability on the links

• @SteveH1UK
Over time you get used to the UID Title format, and the Title UID format looks funny.
Broken wiki links are the bain of all the various versions of Markdown and all the competing note-taking software. It feels like the Wild West out there.

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

• edited November 2020

@Will

"The Wild West" is a good analogy. I tried a filename with spaces using the conventional markdown linking method of [link name](link location) and this was fine in VS Code but not in the Archive.

Having read your comments and the poll results I will now continue building my Zettelkästen using the way that most people on this forum have been doing for years - filenames with UID first and then spaces in the title and also using "The Archive" as the main application. Nice as VS Code is I always think at a bespoke application should be better than a general one (I think that is why Obsidian is also doing well). The roadmap for "The Archive" is excellent (and that is for version 1)

Steve

• edited November 2020

I always make a distinction between filename and title. The filename is what I see in the sidebar and in my phone's screen and therefore I keep it really short. The title written inside the note is what my search in iA Writer finds.

File name: FL20201128a18-flexible-note-title-convention
Title (inside the note): My convention on writing flexible titles for my notes

(F,L) = First, Last name

• I sometimes change the titles of my notes in the filename as the note evolves, the UID is at the beginning and that's the only thing fixed. Doing this doesn't break any link on other notes since the UID is unique.

Example; In some related note I have written a link to FL20201128a18-flexible-note-title-convention in this way,

• See My convention on writing flexible titles for my notes. [[FL20201128a18-flexible-note-title-convention]].

If one day I decide to expand my note I'll change the title of it to Workflow: how to write a new zettel, and the new filename also changes;

Before: FL20201128a18-flexible-note-title-convention
After: FL20201128a18-workflow-new-zettel

If isn't too tedious, I might go back and change the link inside the related note, or leave it as it is since the part FL20201128a18- didn't change and the topic is still related.

• I also include the two initials of my name before the UID in the filename for every note when the contents are written in my words and/or is my work. On the other hand, if the note is a quote or reference material the filename doesn't have my initials.
• My filenames only use safe characters aA…zZ0…9-_ with no spaces, and 50 characters or less if possible. That means I avoid writting "the, a, of, etc." whenever it doesn't alter the meaning of the filename.
• The notes have full titles inside the text in the corresponding language. Then, a note in my Zettelkasten written in english, spanish or japanese has a filename using only safe characters but inside the note it has all glyphs.

Example;

File name: FL20201128a08-diseno-pictogramas-mexico68
Title (inside the note): Diseño de Pictogramas en México 68, Lance Wyman

File name: FL20200908a19-A5-series-lars-muller
Title (inside the note): A5 Series by Lars Müller Publishers

For me, the short filenames work better because I also read and take notes on my phone. It's particularly useful to be able to see the entire filename in the screen and have the choice of reading in the couch and take notes or being outside and jotting something down with no compromises. And using a fixed UID as a prefix in the filenames allows my notes to be flexible in content and expand or shrink while not destroying completely any backlink.

Post edited by Splattack on