Note type for notes on "people" also = permanent notes?

Hi everyone,

I’m not using Obsidian yet, however, since about two weeks I’ve watched a lot of videos about it. I really like this approach from Darin Suthapong Build a Zettelkasten in 2023 (Productive Thinking Method) - YouTube. and I think I’ll try to implement this.

I think I’ll try to use tags as “note types” and I plan to use the following tags:

  • daily (for daily notes → from my daily experiences, thoughts, ideas, reflections)
  • reference (instead of literature notes → from things that I consume). here I would like to use nested tags like e.g. reference/youtube, reference/meeting, reference/book etc.
  • permanent (for permanent notes → Insights/Ideas that I crystalize from daily or reference notes)
  • MOC or HUB (-> Summarization from a collection of permanent notes)

What I haven’t found out yet:
If I would like to take notes about people which I know or met. Which tag (note type) should these notes get? Are they “permanent notes”, too (since they aren’t daily notes and also not reference notes)? I think that I’ll create such notes from scratch (template) if I meet somebody new, and they aren’t created from notes like reference notes (at best maybe from daily notes sometimes?).

Or should I better use an additional tag (typ of note) for such “notes about people” and maybe “notes about devices I own” etc. ?

Are there pros and cons that I should be aware of (for example when filtering, viewing in the Graph etc.) if I give every note (beside a daily/weekly note and reference notes) the permanent note tag?

Also, many people seem to have separate folders for people, daily notes etc.
Is there a special advantage to this?

I thought I would try to keep it simple and use just one main folder with some sub-folders, since everything is a note so to speak (and therefore in the Zettelkasten?):

Vault “2ndBrain”

  • Zettelkasten
    • Daily Notes
    • Weekly Notes
    • Attachments
    • Templates

or maybe

Vault “2ndBrain”

  • Zettelkasten
    • Daily Notes
    • Weekly Notes
  • Attachments
  • Templates

Maybe I’ve misunderstood something or I commit a fallacy?

Thank you for every tip!

PS: sorry for my bad English, it isn’t my main language.

I think this is the way to go. These sorts of notes don’t fit any of the the descriptions in the list.

It makes the the files potentially easier to use without Obsidian (when using outside apps for special tasks or if you decide to stop using Obsidian). You can also use folders for filtering (using the path: search operator). And some people are just used to folders from prior experience. They’re also handy if you ever might move a group of files together (for example, a project).

Sounds reasonable. If you want something different later, you can always change it.

(Your English isn’t bad!)


I think of folders as a way to separate notes that have a special structure from the others. My root folder has almost zero structure and I put varied notes in it. If a note is in my “Contacts” folder, then I know it’s about a person. If a note is in my “Zotero Import” folder, then I know it has all the tags/metadata from my zotero import template.

About contacts in particular, you may be interested by this post I wrote on Reddit:

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Thank you for your reply/help!

My concern regarding this approach is that I then have hundreds (exaggerated) of additional note types (=tags) in the end. Actually, that’s what I try to avoid. However, as you mentioned, they seem to don’t quite fit :frowning:

How do you handle such “note types”?

Okay, that’s a good explanation regarding the usage without Obsidian, thank you. Of course I’m also used to folders and I’m very tempted to store my notes like in my folder structure on my Mac. However, after all the research I’ve done yet about Obsidian and Zettelkasten, I think that’s exactly what I would like to avoid and I would like to start thinking less “folder orientated”. I’ll force myself to don’t use tags as topics and use as the least amount of folders possible. Since still having some folders must be advantageous (as you have written above, and many users seem to handle it this way), I thought I ask this question. A big concern I have with this is regarding the Zettelkasten system (which I think I don’t fully understand yet). Could these folders lead to disadvantages in searching, filtering or with the Graph view inside Obsidian?
If I create this folders as sub-folders inside a main Zettelkasten folder: I can then benefit from the advantages you have written above and still “convince myself” that - like in an physical/analog Zettelkasten - there is everything stored inside it?

That’s true. However, I’m a bit afraid, that this would lead to a very time-consuming work afterwards. This is why I do so much (very likely too much) research in advance before even starting to use Obsidian.

Thank you :slight_smile:

Thank you for your answer/help and also for the link to the Reddit post.

May I ask if you also use tags as “note type” (e.g. “permanent note”, “daily note” etc.)? If so: what type are your contact notes? Are they tagges as separate type or maybe also as permanent notes?

I used to tag my contacts with #contact, but I stopped doing this, because since they are in a separate directory I can find them easily anyway (using the path: search primitive, for instance).

There would be no difference between tagging each of them and putting each of them in a folder. There is nothing wrong with tag though. I would recommend choosing one of the two solutions and sticking to it.

As for tagging them as permanent notes, I don’t use this kind of nomenclature in my vault. To reach a decision for your vault, I recommend this exercise: in what scenarios will you retrieve content using the “#permanent” tag? In these scenarios, do you want to resurface contacts, or not?

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This is my solution as well. I think of folders as implicit tagging. If the note is in my Contacts folder, then it is a Contact, and I can use the path to find all my contacts.

I use Templater when creating a contact to make sure the new note gets moved into my Contacts folder.

That all being said, I also have templater add a tag in the YAML tags: contact just in case I want to do something differently in the future, it is there.

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Thank you for your helpful answer, @davidlandry !

To be honest, the differentiation between the “main” notes (“#permanent” and maybe “#hub” notes) and others (“#daily”, “#reference", “#people"? …) is a part of my structuring problem. I think I’ll use the “#permament” tag because it seems to be a part of the Zettelkasten system and almost everyone is using it (sometimes with another name like “evergreen” etc.). However, I don’t know yet what’s the big advantage of having the possibility to see/filter these “main” (most important?) notes.

I assume that I’ll be able to filter and see it in the Graph. But what insight do I get if I can see all the “permanent” notes (I just realized if maybe a word like “core” notes maybe would also/better fit?) and differentiate it from other notes? I think these permanent and MOC notes could be the most important ones, but is it advantageous to separate them from the other notes? Since I’ll try to use tags instead of folders I do think that it could make sense to sort them. However, maybe there should/could be also note types without a tag (like for example such “people notes”? Are notes without a tag all displayed with the same color in the Graph?

Thank you egauthier!

I also thought about using YAML in my notes (templates) for this reason. However, I’m not sure if I should use something like (note)“type” instead of tags in there, since I’ve read that these tags are the same tags like everywhere else in Obsidian (inline in the note). Is it problematic when the same tag exists twice in a note (in YAML/frontmatter and inline)?

Do you separate all your notes types (literature, permanent etc.) with folders and you don’t use tags for this?

I forgot to mention in my previous post, that the word “permanent” confuses me a little bit. Wouldn’t notes on people also be “permanent” (the same as daily notes and also reference notes, since I don’t plan to delete them somehow)? Let’s say I don’t want/need to see my contacts when I filter “#permanent” and therefore I tag them with an additional note type like “#people": isn’t it a bit illogical then that such notes - which are also permanent notes - don’t have a “#permanent” tag? :thinking:

I don’t overthink it. You could spend all your time organizing folders and tags. I keep mine broad. I tend to use folders for organization and tags for status.

One of the wonderful things about Obsidian is how flexible it is to accommodate any workflow

Ironically, it’s also one of its downfalls. When I started, I spent way too much time focusing on structure rather than content and progress.

Structure will always change…my advise is focus on the content.

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Thank you @egauthier. You are right, I shouldn’t overthink it and focus on the content.

Do you put quick notes during the day in the daily notes? I thought about creating a “Log” section in the daily notes (beside a journal part, or maybe it’s the same?), so that I don’t have to worry a lot where to put such quick notes.

If for example person A says something about himself/herself and I would like to have this in the “Person A” note, I could embed it in there? I assume that this generates a link between the corresponding section of the daily note and the person A note in the Graph view too?

Exactly. I think it is very important to reduce friction when you want to take a note. It should always be very obvious and simple where to store the information, because otherwise you risk never writing it down. You can always move it later.

Instead of a tag for contacts and a tag for notes about your devices, you could use a broad tag like “facts” or “info” (or if you want to sound old-fashioned or Scottish, “ken” :slightly_smiling_face:).

I tag very freely and don’t actually use them much after applying them, so I might not be the best role model. :smile: But on the other hand I don’t, for example, tag my daily (actually weekly) notes because they are easy to identify by name (and folder), tho I tag the journal entries in them because I have a few types of those. (I also don’t specifically follow Zettelkasten, tho I found reading about it kind of useful.)

I think that’s a fine thing to try. I started my Obsidian vault with no folders. I wasn’t surprised when I later added some folders, but I added them for specific reasons instead of just habit.

No. The graph ignores folders unless you tell it to use them in filters.

That’s understandable, and it’s good to try. But from what I’ve seen in my own experience and that of others, no matter how well you plan, your system will probably change. If it changes in a way that would require a lot of work to convert all your old notes, it’s OK to only convert the most important ones and leave the rest alone until the next time you open them. If you have a lot of notes there are probably some that you don’t use anymore, so you don’t need to update them. Think of it like a city, where buildings have been built at different times, so some of them have old-fashioned plumbing or whatever.

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