Topic Notes

Topic Notes are my interpretation of Permanent Notes in Zettelkasten, or 𝍌 Evergreen Notes.

General concepts of Topic Notes:

  • In many ways, Topic Notes are the ultimate destination for notes in § My note taking system.
  • They are atomic notes about a single concept I’ve given some thought to.
  • The title of a Topic Note should be descriptive, somewhat self-explanatory and become something I remember, to help me link to it from other places. Related: 𝍌 Evergreen note titles are like APIs.
  • Topic Notes should come naturally to me, rather than feeling forced. In that way, I should not have a blank page problem when it comes to Topic Notes.
  • Sometimes (though rarely), a single Topic Note could be published externally as a blog post or a memo. More often, I may combine multiple Topic Notes to form a publishable piece of content.
  • They should contain a few paragraphs of text, any more and it’s probably more than one concept and should be split out into multiple Topic Notes, or be an Outline Notes.
  • Topic Notes will generally link to Clippings or other Topic Notes, so that they become densely linked.
  • Topic Notes are evergreen in nature and I should be regularly and serendipitously visiting them and amending them.
  • In this way, my note taking overall should be a fully living system and process. This helps to remove a level of friction for me, and helps me be much more prolific in my writing and note taking. This helps me over time have a lot more knowledge both in my brain and in § My note taking system.
  • In a sense, notes may over time “graduate” from Clippings to Topic Notes.

Taxonomy of Topic Notes:

In increasingly complex stages of development. Inspired by Taxonomy of note types by Andy Matuschak.

  • Stubs notes. Essentially, notes with a title and no content.
  • Notes on a very narrow specific concept or topic.
  • Notes which weave together a discussion or assertion connecting many concepts.

Other thoughts

  • I briefly thought about having a separate tag, topic-draft as a 𝍌 A writing inbox for transient and incomplete notes. However, for me, it started to feel like extra unnecessary structure and actually created friction. I like thinking of all topic notes as drafts instead. They should be living notes, being updated and amended regularly. With that in mind, a stub for a note is just as valid as a polished note.