Using Application, Subject or Characters in the note title

I’m trying to make some sense of existing notes, and I’ve noticed a couple things that I could use input on

  1. I have notes for books or courses but there’s nothing in the title to show what they are. I have some inside a folder, but I don’t want to rely too much on folders, and some do have a character at the beginning, but that does force them to sort together (for good or bad)
    Do you use folders, put a special character or word in those or anything else so you know it’s a book and not a subject? What do you recommend?
  2. I’ve started many notes similar to: Excel - adding stuff, or Python - looping around, but I also have many that are just the topic without the application (so just “adding stuff”, etc) In both cases the Excel or Python would be inside the actual note so it’s just for an understanding from the title. Which have you found more useful?
    If it’s a topic, but not an application (Data Analytics) I haven’t been adding that to the note title, only when it’s an actual application. The majority of my notes are in this form. The subject is always in the note.


For people, I add their role, like “sales” or “visual designer” or where they work if that’s easier, like Microsoft”.

For other things, add stuff to the title to make it easier to understand what it is at a glance. All my works/sources/media are in on folder, so I have (book) or (article) or (movie) at the end of the title.

That really makes searches easier.

Lastly, entities li’e people, orgs, and works are named as they are. However, for thinking/ZKish notes, I make the title communicate both the content and the kind of note. If it’s a principle, it should be phrased as suck. Eg: “Notes that are principles should be titled, so the principle is clear”.

This is different than a concept that is more general. Eg: “Note titles can communicate note contents”

Can you give me an example of how you name a note so the principle is clear? I’ve been intentionally keeping note names as short as possible, but now I’m starting to question that as well… Are you suggesting that a vocab note (for example) have a title of more than the word? Would that differentiate an English word vs an industry specific term? So instead of a note that just says “Attribute” or “Equality” they would include in the title what I currently have inside the note? Attribute would be especially tricky since it’s used in slightly different ways in programming or analytics vs Excel or Photoshop.

Here’s two examples that show a mix of terms, concepts, principles, and templates. Does these make my point clear? It’s hard to articulate sometimes.

I can’t share a screenshot of my people notes because it’s private/confidential.

Thanks, that helped, and I can see the potential benefits. I’ve been concerned with using note titles that will naturally link from other notes, rather than ones that accurately describe the note’s content.

I’m still not sure how I want to proceed with application specific notes and terminology notes, especially those that cross disciplines, but this gives me some things to consider.

If the name is shared by another note (or is common enough that it might happen), I’ll put something in parentheses at the end of the note name, like The Fly (short story). Otherwise I don’t mark note names like that.

I use folders but I try to keep them broad, except in my projects folder. So The Fly (short story) is in 23.Media/23.01.Fiction/. If I were taking a college course I might consider it a project, so in my system my notes for a course might be in 24.Projects/2022/SOC212/02.Notes (my common projects folder names like 02.Notes are an exception to my rule disallowing duplicate names). I would probably copy the notes out into more subject-appropriate areas when the course was over, but maybe it would make more sense to put the notes there in the first place and just link to them from the course. (I graduated a long time ago, but what I describe is how I handle notes for projects.) I wouldn’t put the course name or number in the notes’ names unless there was a conflict (or might be) — for example, SOC212 syllabus.

I do what you do — I include app names (like “Obsidian plugins”) but usually not other topics. I could see myself adding other things on a case by case basis. I sort of do it with TV series — a note for a season will include the series name.

Thanks, those ideas are helpful. Like you, I also graduated many years ago, so I wouldn’t need a lot of structure around courses, but I do continue to take online courses or study books so it will help for those. I can make use of the parentheses as well, and I now feel significantly better about putting application names into my notes

1 Like

I was struggling with the same issue! I was just organizing my experience in the past few days, and then I saw your post. I hope my workflow can bring you some new ideas. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

I was reading through your method earlier and can see the value in it, but I’m still not convinced that I want that much structure. I do enjoy a bit of structure, but I also appreciate the dynamic flow of tag or link based system. Having an indicator of the relevant app in the title is great for sorting and for the human view, but seems of little value for the connections. It comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish with this knowledge base, and how you plan to use it.

I’m leaning towards going the opposite direction and keeping all the relationships and connections inside the body of the note. Take something like data types and it can get really messy. There’s not only which data types an application or programming language recognizes, but whether that language even requires a type to be defined, and of course the many ways the different types are implemented.

So rather than having separate notes like “Java Data Types”, “Python Data Types” etc., I’m considering just having a single “Data Types” note. Inside that note will be all the relevant information for the different applications and languages with links out to those so it can be found from that direction as well.

I haven’t been able to test this concept too deeply, but my thinking is that it will allow for easier comparisons and for recognizing commonalities. If I’m working on a new system and go to add a note about the available data types then all the other systems that I’ve made notes on are right there in the same place. Being able to see how the new system is similar to ones that I already know should lessen the learning curve or reduce how much I need to add to the note.

The downside is that if I’m taking on a new project in a language that I haven’t used in a while, and I would like to review all my notes on it, I’m going to end up seeing information about all the other languages as well.

I don’t know which method is best, or if there even is one, but I do know that I already have topics that relate to multiple applications, so my original idea of having the application in the title so they group together becomes less useful. My concern is that if I have a generic title like “formats of a conditional statement” that only contains Excel formulas that I’ll open it looking for Python stuff. Guess I’ll have to see how it goes in time…

1 Like

Why not both? “Data Types” for the general concept, and “Java Types” etc. for the language-specific details, and link them to each other.

That was the original method I was using. What advantage do you see with it that I’d lose by combining them?

The advantage would be avoiding this:

Also it just sounds more sensible to me. I wouldn’t want extensive language-specific notes muddying up my general concepts. But whatever works for you!

ah, well I’ll see how it goes. In this example I wouldn’t need the general concept note, but for a topic that’s new to me I could see the benefit of having the core information readily available at the top of the note while looking up specific details, so that might actually be an advantage. Otherwise I may never go back and review the definitions and concepts and just focus on implementing them.

Having multiple disjointed notes on essentially the same topic seems like a good way to muddle everything up, at least my experience with it so far hasn’t been positive. Guess I’ll know more after trying it for a while

1 Like