Link notes. But how?

I’ve learned that creating and maintaining links between related notes is a key aspect of the Zettelkasten method. Linking notes to each other helps to uncover new insights and connections and improves the organization of my Zettelkasten. But how to find the best strategy for linking?

I choose using links for Zettelkasten with two different goals in mind:

  • to build up a network of ideas
  • to define a hierarchical structure

Both linking methods support the further access of ideas:

  • The links in my network of ideas are leading me to hidden connections in the slip-box and support serendipity.
  • The links which define hierarchical structures are leading me to often visited notes that belong together.

A folder structure with separated “Permanent Notes” and “Structure Notes” helps me to distinguish between the two structures.

Here‘s my collection of concepts for linking notes:

  • Move forward. Link backward.
  • Always keep a link to the source.

What‘s your preferred strategy for linking? And what‘s your benefit from using it?

More about the 12 Principles For Using Zettelkasten

Interesting posts:

I guess I don’t really think about link structure too often. I write notes like a Wikipedia article—if I mention something and I feel like it should have its own article, I link it.

So I suppose my graph view is more like some sort of “creativity catalyst” than a map for navigation purposes. Sometimes I’ll look at it and see an uncreated note that I linked a long time ago, but by then I’ll have gathered ideas from other notes on what that thing really is, and I’ll turn it into a real note. And then the links and ideas just keep building up.

I guess it’s because I mostly use Obsidian for planning stories. The only other thing I use it for is school, and with that, I just use folders and ocassionally tags. I rarely link.

Unless it’s vocab words, but then I just link it to a note in the inspiration folder with my writing stuff.

I like the idea of structured links for optimal navigation and organization without folders, but linking freely is my preferred method because it leads to more creativity. Also, more time is spent having fun writing the note than thinking about structure and which links to put where.


I prefer free linking in the content area of my notes. All other, more structured approaches, are on the “back” of my notes.

Here’s a template for my Permanent Notes:

Most of my linking is optional. But always keeping a link to the scoure of the note is a must.

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Here’s my view on the value of backlinks:

You may have notes with links used as starting points (SP) and also as points of interest (POI).

Compare these two types of linking with Permanent Notes:

  1. Direct Linking and
  2. Linking with Terms

Linking with terms will give you the chance to find hidden links between related ideas. For me terms with backlinks are best for finding theses hidden connections. I often use the Local Graph feature in Obsidian for having a visual overview.

What’s your favorite use of backlinks?

Linking notes in Zettelkasten is a simple task. My note “Use Links” is part of a network of ideas. Let us have a look at the Local Graph:

Color code: Notes are grey, sketchnotes are yellow.

It looks like information overload. What I’m looking for is a more focused visual: Less detail, more insight.

When I installed Excalibrain [1], my first visual was a bit more in this direction:

But not perfect: Many lines and many boxes. Finally, I used the Excalibrain filter “Hide inferred relationships”. A brilliant solution:

Less is more! It’s a visual of my simple rule:

“Always keep a link to the source.”

[1] Viczian, Zsolt. ‘ExcaliBrain’. GitHub - zsviczian/excalibrain: A graph view to navigate your Obsidian vault.