Storing original webpage / source material

When I read about Zettlekasten, my impression was that I should have one place where I store my note and another place to store the actual source article. I’m wondering where people store the original webpage/document their note is referring to or commenting on? Do you copy and paste it into the same Vault in Obsidian? Do you have a different location where you store the source material and Obsidian just has your notes? How do people handle this?


For research papers, I usually just reference them using something like this:

Knoblich, G., Ohlsson, S., Haider, H., & Rhenius, D. (1999). Constraint relaxation and chunk decomposition in insight problem solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25(6), 1534–1555.

For documents other than that, I download and store them in a resource folder. PDF files are referenced directly in notes, while other formats I just mention the file names. For online articles I just reference them directly using [alias](link)

Hope that helps.

I have all my pdf articles in a separate folder, and reference them by citekeys and local URLs (but the citekey is the more important one).
I don’t use webpages too much, but if I did, I would make a bibtex entry for them too and reference those.

I guess I am somewhat worried about web articles disappearing later so archiving them somehow seems like good practice. So I was wondering how people do that (E.g, clip to evernote vs save as pdf vs save as markup and add to Obsidian etc.)

1 Like

I just print it as pdf if I really must…

I use’s Markdownload Chrome Extension to save either selections or full Web pages to my Obsidian Inbox folder. Because it includes template functionality, I’m able to save useful metadata as top matter for everything I save. Saved web content, like saved PDFs, go into my library folder to segregate from my “zettels.” This enables me to link and tag that content as appropriate.

My vault is a universal notebook that contains folders representing different functionality including:
WWW bookmarks
Contact management
Freelance Project Management

I think the mistake I made originally was thinking that Obsidian=Zettelkasten. Now I treat Obsidian as a personal knowledge platform with multiple functions that I can flexibly combine and separate as needed.

1 Like

Basically what Deinos said - for the most part MarkDownload is AWESOME. I open a dozen tabs with interest articles, MarkDownload all (via right click on the tab), and then read, highlight and note them in Obsidian. I use an #unread tag to easily find newest additions.

My vault is split into three main folders to facilitate sorting and reduce clutter (when I want):

  1. Professional
  2. Personal
  3. Sources

I can open these as a single vault, but my own day to day usage is to open just the sources as its own vault, and then the other relevant sub-vault, and work across the two split screen. I find that lots of links from the source vault to my own notes tends to make a mess of the text and graph, and instead will just copy the title as text (if at all, most of my own notes don’t rely on heavy citation).

With Obsidian Sync the sources folder starts to approximate my archive in Evernote in the past, but with awesome graph and linking functionality, and I think a better search function. Once the mobile app is out it will make catching up on sources easy by mobile too, my last major request besides Typora WYSIWYG.


@icebear This is the kind of solution I am looking for but since I am new to Obsidian I am wondering if you can clarify a couple of things.

I can open these as a single vault, but my own day to day usage is to open just the sources as its own vault, and then the other relevant sub-vault, and work across the two split screen.

What do you mean by opening other relevant sub-vaults?

I find that lots of links from the source vault to my own notes tends to make a mess of the text and graph, and instead will just copy the title as text

So if I am understanding you correctly, this is one of my worries. On the one hand, I want the source material preserved. On the other hand, I think that if I link all my thoughts or quotes I pull back to the original source article, it will make the graph a mess and make it hard to discover connections. Are you saying that you purposely don’t link a note in your Personal folder to your Sources folder so as not to create this issue?

Currently, I’m using Zotero and Calibre to hold the source documents, with some in Evernote (working on consolidating that). All three have excellent search functions that help me find the data later. So far, I just cite them in Zotero and then use the wonderful Citations plugin to create the lit note.

“My vault” folder structure:

  1. Professional
  2. Private
  3. Sources

If I open “My vault” in Obsidian, all files from the three folders are contained in that vault. If I instead open a vault using the folder “Sources”, I only have those sources available. The reason one might prefer this is because with thousands of saved articles in “Sources” and only a few hundred original notes in “Professional”, the sources clutter the quick switcher.

It isn’t important for my work to be diligently cited in its final publication format, so I’m not as concerned about that. Also, when I am being diligent I may have a dozen links to a single original note and it just clutters the whole thing up in my experience. I’d rather make the links in my original notes to and from my other original notes. Your use case may vary significantly!

@icebear Thanks for that explanation. It was very helpful. I’m still trying to figure out the whole vault thing (opening a subfolder as a vault etc.)

I think this is the solution I am looking for. What I was grappling with is that if I pull in the whole web article as Markdown and link my original thoughts to it then my graph will be a mess. But if I am understanding you correctly I can put my sources in one folder and if I don’t want them cluttering up my graph then I can just open the Professional folder as a vault and that will make it so I only see the original thoughts on the graph, without the source articles cluttering the graph up. Is this correct?

One more clarification:

Unless I am missing something, if my understanding above is correct, wouldn’t this be fixed by just opening the Professional folder? Wouldn’t that remove the clutter?

Thanks again for all your help with this! :smiley:

Correct. You can also filter the graph for -path:“Sources”

If you have links from Professional folder notes to Sources folder notes, when you open just the Professional folder those links will still exist in those notes, but show up as empty files since the Sources folder won’t be found.