The Three Types of Zettelkasten Notes

A great way to think about note-making

September 27, 2022

While I don't subscribe fully to the method, I have found the concept of "zettelkasten notes" very helpful in the development and maintenance of my own note-making system. Specifically there are three main types of notes employed:

  1. Fleeting notes - These are your raw scratch notes or highlights from books and articles. These are the least helpful type of note and need to be developed more fully before they become useful.
  2. Literature notes - These are condensed notes in your own words summarizing the works of others (outlining a book or article).
  3. Permanent notes - These notes summarize a single, atomic idea. They can be combined and remixed to connect and form new ideas.

To give an example of the typical flow in my note-making system:

I usually start with Kindle highlights (Fleeting), which are automatically synced to my notes app with a 3rd party app called Readwise.

Next, I write Literature notes, summarizing the main ideas and concepts from the highlights.

Finally, I create separate Permanent notes for each of the main ideas. This allows me to create new notes linking multiple Permanent notes together to generate new ideas.

© 2022 Ross Gebhart