Evergreen Notes vs. Permanent Notes

I have tried versions of this title as a Google search several times really to end up close to where I started.

It seems as though these are pretty interchangeable. The permanent note is part of Niklas Luhmann’s Zettelkasten system and functions as the core of where the understanding and ideas are summarized and connected. This happens after they have been developed from fleeting notes or concepts from literature notes that are pulled out and summarized in your own words. The evergreen note is it’s own system description stemming from the idea of developing core notes of your ideas and understanding that can develop and evolve over time as your understanding develops and evolves.
The selective connection, use of your own words, and atomic description of these notes feel like the most critical pieces and these pieces seem to be the same for both.

I don’t want to get lost in semantics and these both seem very similar (as well as paradigm-shifting for me) and have helped me grow my understanding. I just want to make sure that if there is a core difference that fundamentally differentiates the two and provides a better system long-term that I’m not missing it.

Any thoughts?

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I don’t think there is a core difference between both terms. Personally I use them indistinctively.


Thanks for your thoughts. I have moved towards using evergreen notes as the descriptor simply because I personally like the mental picture (:evergreen_tree:) that it brings slightly better than permanent notes, but I view them and use them indistinctively as well.


I think you should always prioritize what makes sense to you. :smiley:


Good comparison here: Similarities and differences between evergreen note-writing and Zettelkasten


Thanks very much! I think I actually stumbled across that article a couple weeks ago, but for some reason the way Andy Matuschak described it didn’t sink in until just now.

I wonder if after reading through his pages around this if you would agree with some key takeaways I have?

  1. They are similar in many respects to their core essence of connecting with other notes, using your own words, and using atomic description.
  2. Zettelkasten (which has permanent notes as the goal) is a more structured 3 tier system with more clear cutoffs/rules at each tier (fleeting notes/literature notes → permanent notes).
  3. Evergreen note writing is a slightly more blurred/fluid system with ideas coming in and slowly growing/changing into evergreen notes.
  4. The “inbox” for each system is processed slightly differently. Fleeting notes act as the inbox for a Zettelkasten system and are processed regularly to delete notes/ideas that aren’t worth processing into a fleshed-out concept in a permanent note or don’t interest you. The inbox in evergreen note writing is less of a space to pass/fail ideas on a daily/weekly/regular basis and more of a fertile soil that sees what ideas grow and what ideas don’t.

Thanks again for sharing the page.


As I said before: “you should always prioritize what makes sense to you”.