Table of Contents
  1. Getting Started
  2. Principles
  3. Knowledge Management
    1. Scaling your note archive
    2. About learning and knowing-more in general
  4. Writing
  5. Reading
  6. History of the Zettelkasten

So you’re here for a starting point.

Using a Zettelkasten is about optimizing a workflow of learning and producing knowledge. The products are texts, mostly. The categories we find fit the process well at the moment are the following:

  • Knowledge Management: general information about what it means to work and learn efficiently.
  • Writing: posts on the production of lasting knowledge, and about sharing it with others through your own texts.
  • Reading: posts about the process of acquisition of new things and the organization of sources.

We started to feature application reviews to see how well they fit the Zettelkasten workflow. You most likely want to pick an app that adapts well to your work, so our tools page, the list of blog posts tagged “review”, and our software forum are all good starting points. There’s a lot of other software on the web you could experiment with, so don’t feel limited to our selection!

If you want to know more about us and how we roll, take a look at the “personal” tag.

Getting Started


Principles are higher than techniques. Principles produce techniques in an instant.
—Ido Portal

Knowledge Management

The building blocks of a Zettelkasten are the inbox, the note archive, and the reference manager.

These are the basics to get started with effective knowledge management:

And always keep in mind The Collector’s Fallacy: you have to work with new material to really learn it. It doesn’t suffice to bookmark websites or just read and annotate books. (Christian still has skeletons in the closet.)

To get you in the mood to grow your archive, read “Trust the process”, an essay.

Scaling your note archive

To cope with the constant influx of new information, use temporary “buffer” notes to collect stuff that you can later re-arrange.

With time, you’ll notice multiple Layers of Evidence emerge. This means your notes will have different kinds of content. The layers are:

  1. Data description and patterns.
  2. Interpretation of descriptions and patterns.
  3. Synthesis of patterns, descriptions and interpretation.

When your archive grows, you’ll add Structural Layers in your Zettelkasten through links. The levels are:

  1. Bottom Layer: Content
  2. Middle Layer: Structure Notes
  3. Top Layer: Main Structure Notes and Double Hashes (that is: special tags)

About learning and knowing-more in general

“Trust the process” (an essay) hits the nerve: thinking and memory retention are improved by working through problems.



History of the Zettelkasten

If you want to know more about the history of the Zettelkasten Method, check out the ongoing research on Luhmann’s Zettelkasten by Johannes Schmidt at Bielefeld University. Johannes is the Guardian of the Godfather’s Zettelkasten, and his work is genuinely interesting for knowledge work nerds.