A Zettelkasten is a slip box. It was developed as a method to grow a knowledge base and produce creative works. The method was pioneered by Niklas Luhmann during his long career as a sociologist.

Guiding principles

Open organization rather than structured note-taking. Building a second partner for research.


Arbitrary Branching


Notes in Zettelkasten are expected to be densely linked. The more densely linked the better really because it helps connect different ideas together to spawn new thoughts and contexts.


Registers are meant to answer the question "where do I start reading" when navigating a zettelkasten. They are pointers to the large themes in the zettel. Once an interesting line of thought is identified, you can dive into those group of notes.

Accidents are crucial

Working with a zettelkasten is somewhat like a conversation. You are not expected to have a detailed goal of where you'll end up each time you interact with your notes. By traversing from link to link, down the rabbit hole, your mind is expected to form connections across a diverse range of notes and ideas. Accidental traversals help greatly in finding novel connections.


You will want a tool with the following capabilities:

  • Create links between notes.
  • Create notes with static filenames.

Further Reading