Importance of naming with zettelkasten IDs?

This has been a very insightful read, a lot of good information here. Seeing @EleanorKonik mention of using aliases would be of great benefit to me and my workflow!

Could someone steer me in the right direction, as to how to implement this?

Interestingly I solve the problem without aliases by simply adjusting where I place most of my links.

Instead of writing a link [[Some note name|as an embedded link]] in the middle of a sentence I would do it like this, taken from an actual note in my archive:

Applying this strategy intentionally can be powerful: [[Apply models and metaphors to highlight important aspects (2103161905)]], and [[Discard information to gain clarity (2012242002)]]. This is because [[Models are abstractions (2012291401)]] and abstractions provide a lens through which we perceive reality, which affects our thinking: [[Understand the observation scheme (E.2012291655)]].

This is an advantage I find to using phrase-based titles: sentences can be constructed around them or can be constructed to segue into them at the end, either way works well.

Since I’ve also started adopting some legal conventions regarding introductory signals (See: [[x]] is different from But see: [[x]], etc) it turns out this all works together very very well.


I’m not sure this is really a different solution to the same problem, but rather a difference in approach. This exchange has convinced me that there is an important distinction between notes that are about concepts (a phrase or often just a word) and notes that are about thoughts (formulated in sentences or propositions). Interesting to note that these positions are represented, respectively, by Niklas Luhmann (noun phrases as Zettels) and Andy Matuschak (evergreen notes with assertions in the titles).


I don’t think it’s quite correct to say Luhmann used nouns as titles. A quick browse through the Luhmann Archive shows he had a variety of approaches.

From what I can see concept-as-noun notes in Luhmann’s system were generally index notes that entered into a sequence of ideas on a specific topic.

(note: highly recommend using Google Chrome for these links and turning on auto-translate since they are in German)


Those index-type notes generally contained a bibliography list for that topic in the first few notes (denoted with parentheses in the IDs) and then began the sequences of ideas as the following series of notes (denoted with commas or periods in the IDs).

These often uses phrases that captured the idea.


He also had notes that had no clear title but simply collected a quote from a source, such as:

What I DO think is distinct between the approaches of Luhmann and Matuschak are the following two things:

  1. Matuschak’s extension of this phrase-as-title to a more active expression of the idea as a heuristic or strategy to structure thinking.

  2. Matuschak’s insistence that evergreen notes are his ideas. He expresses this in his recorded livestream video, stating that a note he was taking capturing a term from an author was not considered an evergreen note because he prefers to convert those into his own coined terms and phrases that capture related ideas from multiple sources.

For example, whereas in ZK I Note 16.4 Luhmann gives it the title Sovereignty and Organization, Matuschak may create a note titled Sovereignty and organization are different but related concepts. And for ZK I Note 13.6 which Luhmann titled Representative and systematic starting point of the unification of wills doctrine, Matuschak may instead create a similar note titled Executable strategy for altering organizational doctrine in response to shifts in reality.

I find these to be subtle but important differences. The Luhmann approach reads like chapter or section headings that structure ideas in relation to each other, while the Matuschak approach structures and guides thinking and behavior.

As a practical person I find the latter more effective.

Note however that Matuschak also uses “soft assertion” phrases at times, e.g. Evergreen note titles are like APIs, as do I. What I find effective though is to try to move towards more actively phrased titles when possible. Example: Prefer note titles with complete phrases to sharpen claims.

It isn’t always possible and that’s fine, but having that as a general goal seems to shape my thinking.

(the above comment is now a note in my system titled Good note titles structure and guide thinking and behavior)


I’ve continued this in a new note…