About these notes

Note types help separate insight from general writing


I Keep all notes in a single folder because it makes it easier for me to keep my note-taking practice. This combined with the fact that I use Writing as a medium for making sense means that I have knowledge notes, references, cookbooks, gibberish, journaling everything at the same place.

This can reduce the quality of my Notes as a lifelong thinking partner. To solve this, I use note “types” to separate different kinds of writing, and filter based on need. Every note is defaulted to a draft on creation. draft notes are my “inbox”. By the time I’m done writing, it’s obvious whether it’s a journal, gibberish, note, or reference, and I update the type.

Types I use:

  • draft: rough ideas and quick capturing. The default type when creating a new text file. Update once the note is taking form. Draft notes are my “inbox”.
  • journal: putting thoughts down to process them. Their purpose is to declutter my head, express an emotion, or just write unintelligible texts.
  • note: linked and adequately expressed note. Since notes should be continuously refined, note doesn’t mean that a text is “complete”, but just means “not horrible” or “presentable”.

Over time I added new types:

  • reference:
    • implementation/troubleshooting steps I followed to achieve something (usually software engineering related)
    • notes from some content I consumed, e.g. a podcast, a book.
    • tags help me differentiate between the two: Tags can be used as implicit folders in knowledge notes
    • #TODO: reference type is too muddy. Using it for “cookbooks”, “webclips”, “notes for things I read”, “things to look refer to for ideas” is just too noisy. But adding more types will make this thing horrible to work with. See below.
  • implicit: empty notes to be filled later - Backlinks can create implicit nodes in networked notes.
  • structure-note: bringing various notes together: Outline notes are useful for telling a story, e.g. tying together the various ideas of a book. I don’t use these a lot. 1

Structure or just friction?

I am on the fence about having so many types since I might end up with Problems of hierarchical taxonomies, like decision fatigue and fuzzy boundaries. I usually Try-things-out-and-improve-iteratively-as-needed.

Related: Andy Matuschak’s Taxonomy of notes

  1. 2023-08-11: On second thought, it’s unclear to me why this requires to be a separate type. Structure notes should be defined from their “outliney” nature, not from a note type. On the other hand, having a type makes it easier to filter for these. 

← back

Links to this note

Keep all notes in a single folder

Using folders and subfolders or any kind of note-taking interface that promotes hierarchical structure will face the Problems of hierarchical taxonomies. In the end, you end up with a system...

Technical implementation details of linked notes

Use plain text files for note-taking - Keep all notes in a single folder - Default note titles to a UID and think of a name later. - Notes-can-store-structured-information-in-YAML-header -...