Making MOCs - deep deep frustration

Can anyone point me to a simple, practice ‘how to’ for making MOCs?

I understand the methodologies/philosophies and I have tried the guides to dataview, dashboard++ (couldn’t make it work and don’t have time to keep hacking after several hours). And the philosophical posts skirt over the practicalities.

  1. Do I have to master dataview?
  2. If not, are there simple ways to link or tag notes to appear in a MOC?
  3. If yes - or that’s the best way - is there a simple guide to dataview somewhere?

This is the best and worst of Obsidian: you can do anything with it, but no one tells you how - they just tell you all about their ‘system’!


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I feel for you. I’m in love with Obsidian but quite new to it, and I often struggle. I got all I needed with 3 kind of queries:

  • some queries to dynamically show the whole text under a section (not even using dataview)


  • some tasks queries
not done
sort by due
group by path
path includes ISMJ

All tasks not done, with a sort by, group by, in a certain path

  • a dataview query that I love, that shows all CHILDREN bullet points of all bullet points for a certain tags from the past 3 days
LIST item.children.text
WHERE (( > (date(today) - dur(3 days))) AND ( <= (date(today))))
FLATTEN file.lists as item 
WHERE contains(item.tags, "CLASS")

So basically, everything from my daily notes that has something like this:

  • #CLASS
    • subitem
    • other

Will dynamically return

  • subitem
  • other

With this, I use daily notes all the time, only out a dedicated page for a specific big meeting or big topic, and use a MOC for all my classes activities (I’m a teacher).

Feel free to share concrete use cases for which you need help, I’ll humbly be proud to try and help :slight_smile:

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I believe organisation in your mind should govern your choice for organisation in your vault. What I mean with this is that I think you should let how you think about notes in your vault should give you guidance as to what you want to use as MOCs or not. Then it becomes a matter of how do you think about your notes, and what is the taxonomy you want to use? I’m going to present a very limited set of alternatives, but please feel free to ask more about that which intrigues you.

No taxonomy, just random links

There is no issue with creating entry points, or MOCs, purely based upon your own links, in whatever format you want. This could be multi-level lists of links, natural passages of text with links, or whatever suits your style the best.

The key point would to consider could be something like: If I enter this MOC, what will be the best structure for me to easily continue finding my way in to that particular subject/topic?

A possible downside with this approach is that it’s hard to automate structuring those notes not belonging to either of your established MOCs, and you’re left with pure searches to find other links to include, if they don’t easily lend themselves to be included during other browsing of your vault.

Heavily dependent on taxonomy

In this kind of scheme, you use properties, tags or whatnot to classify your notes according to some major principles, stuff like PARA, ACE, Zettelkasten, …, or something define by yourself. Personally I try to add type properties to notes, i.e. journals, references, trips, and so on, and for some broader areas I use folders to some extent, i.e. I’ve got folders for Obsidian forum related, Github, journals, etc. I try to use pure tags only for intermediate stuff to help me focus on what to do somewhere within my vault, or for loose topic connections.

The point being that marking up your documents will later on allow you to use queries in various variants to gather up stuff belonging to different areas of interests. Now a MOC becomes a place for those gatherings of links to be organised.

Using a given scheme then would allow you to easily(?) find what belongs in a MOC, and then you can organise the links possibly even my manually sorting them into some list structure which makes sense to you. And since you’re classifying your notes, you could run searches/queries to help you locate stuff you’ve not included in your MOC so far.

An intermediate between these two

I’ve not got all in for either method, as I don’t have the motivation or energy to go for that all including taxonomy which should cover it all in the perfect sense of it all, but I still like to keep some sort of structure.

So for me it’s a matter of convenience as to what is marked up in various ways, and what’s just stored in whatever structure I happened to want for that particular note. I do however try to keep my “main” notes somewhat structured, so that I could do some automatic querying and relation building on them.

So to answer your questions. No you don’t need to master dataview, but it can come in handy to do some searches in various contexts. And the more taxonomy you apply to your notes, the more useful it’ll become as it can help you stay organised.

Is there are a simple way to link or tags notes to appear in a MOC? Well, if you use a direct link in a note to a MOC of your choice, it’ll appear in the backlinks of that MOC. I would then suggest adding a query to your MOC displaying the difference between outlinks of your MOC, compared to the inlinks to your MOC. That query would then show “missing” links from your MOC, where you’ve classified a note to belong to this MOC by that direct link.

An example of this latter query, can be found in this forum, and I’ll look around for it later today (hopefully). Kind of busy, so I’ve got to run now.


If you tag or link your notes that should appear in an MOC, you can retrieve them in a search. In Obsidian, search results can be copied and pasted as links in a new document: that, then, is an initial MOC.

Then, of course, the manual work of ordering and grouping the resulting links remains: that is inherent to an MOC.

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For me making a MOC (an index note) is rather simple.

  • you don’t necessarily need dataview. You can make a note with just a bullet list of links.

The way I create an index note.

  • Start writing a bunch of ordinary notes.
  • When i recognize that some of these notes form a “set” and I can give this set a name, if I consider useful I create a note titled with that name and put links to the original notes into the index note. Starting creating a simple list. I can choose the order. I can also evolve the list making multiple groups, and I can also add some text if it is useful.

If the index note already exists, I remember that the index note exists and I add news links to the existent notes.

If an index note grows too much, I can split it in many index notes and even link them together.
When the note set grows, I can create index notes that groups other index notes.

That’s it

I do something similar, but use a nested tag system to help me find/explore what the ‘sets’ are (I use the term “series”), and to create the MOC.

To help make this clear, here are some of the series tags I have at the moment:

So when I’m working on a note, and I’m thinking about whether it belongs in a series or not, I can go to the tag property and type “series” and get a browse-able list:

This helps me join new notes and concepts to existing content. Finally, I use a dataview query in a “index” (MOC) to list out each series, effectively creating a live index (I also have a note that is a whole index of all the series together, which to be honest I use more than the individual index notes) Ordering isn’t something that I care about, so this is enough for me, but as others have suggested you could use this approach and manually take the results and order/edit from there.

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Besides explicitly creating lists of links, it can suffice to use “file tags” to see all related notes. In the example above, you could tag files with e.g. [[series-art]] instead of a tag #series/art. Then, you can make use of the backlinks feature to view all notes tagged with [[series-art]] by clicking on that link.

Backlinks provides an automatic, updated view of all related notes. Backlinks can be collapsed to just display the title of the note, or be expanded at two levels to also display the link and some surrounding lines.

An MOC is more than a TOC. It is where you also organize the links and place them in context. If at some point you want this interaction, then searching [[series-art]] allows to quickly create a list of links, which is the basis for your MOC. I referred to this in my earlier post.

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This was actually my initial approach to handling it :slight_smile: For the record so others may learn from the journey, I moved away from this because:

  • I found when I wanted to reference a series in a note that wasn’t [[series-art]], it was a bit more difficult (now the query is just “notes tagged with #series/art” in dataview or as a native query).
  • I wanted to use levels of nesting - for example #series/research/qualitative, #series/research/quantitative, #series/research/reporting (didn’t mention this earlier as it wasn’t really relevant to the thread topic). But hard to do that with just direct files/links
  • for the graph, I find the ability to disable the tags and just see “pure” linking of my notes ie. no status info (another way I use nested tags), and no series grouping. I also have a filter setup that includes ONLY the series tags (and excludes the index/MOC pages). This lets me see how the relative size of the series, and how the strongly/loosely they connect to other series.
  • I was worried about losing the browsable summary in the backlink view, but find that in reality I haven’t missed it when it comes to series and the MOC/index notes. I still like it and use it with note to note linkage all the time.

I do write quite a bit in the series index note about the topic by the way - it’s not just an index. I’ve kind of merged the concepts of MOCs, topic notes and pure listing/index pages because that’s what works for me. Of course, for anybody else my approach above might be to their liking or it might not, YMMV, but those are the reasons I’ve arrived where I have.