Zettelkasten in Evernote – #1 My Experience

Greetings and welcome to the first blog post of: My Experience. In this blog series I give insight into how I apply knowledge gained. For more information about this series click here. As a matter of fact, in this blog post we put Zettelkasten in practice using Evernote.

For those who want to know more about my experience with other applications for zettelkasten, including: Obsidian, OneNote and Notion. There is “Zettelkasten – the ultimate guide” here you can find all our zettelkasten content:

Zettelkasten the ultimate guide
Click on the picture to open the guide.

In the second Podcast of the Week post (Link), I wrote about the Zettelkasten note taking system. The system, which its name in German means slip box. Is a system that uses boxes to organise notes, containing ideas and short pieces of information. In conclusion, this peaked my interest because it has some advantages according to the theory, these advantages are described in the key takeaways.

There are plenty of note taking tools around on the internet to put Zettelkasten in practice, so I decided to give it a try. The software that I gave a try is called EverNote, it’s free to use without downloading a program. You can start using it in within any browser, like Edge, Chrome or Firefox. I chose Evernote over the other applicatons because I use it in projects. So I do have some experience with it already.

The main goal is to use the software as described by the Zettelkasten system, to see how we can apply this nowadays. The Zettelkasten system uses an unique numbering system based on the principle of atomicity. This means that you put information that belongs together on a single note with an ID. The other principle that the system uses is the principle of connectivity. In other words, connecting notes about similar subjects.

How did I apply these Zettelkasten principles in Evernote?

Applying the principle of atomicity

I applied this by giving titles to every note containing the subject, I didn’t discover the option to generate ID’s for the notes. Which makes direct referencing difficult. If you really want to use direct referencing, you can work around this by copying the URL of the note and placing it in other notes. To summarize, The URL will function as unique identifier.

Coming up with note titles could be daunting at first. Because you have to decide when to split up notes or group a subject on a note. The great thing about this, Evernote excels at ordering your notes. So you can make a few notes an let it organically grow, you can always decide to change it. The way Evernote is designed makes it easy to organise notes. The notes are within a notebook. The notebook can be part of a stack. For instance, as you can see in the example picture below: The stack is called “Investing” within the stack there are two notebooks; “Index Investing” and “Value Investing”. The notes can move around by dragging and dropping. There are many reasons to organise your notes. Above all to keep oversight.

Evernote Zettelkasten
The structure within Evernote

Applying the principle of connectivity

Connecting your notes is possible in different ways. You can use direct referencing with URL’s, however not really user friendly. But you can use the structure within Evernote. In addition, there is the possibility to use tags. A note can contain multiple tags which give characteristics to the note. It works separately from your structure, this makes grouping notes together possible. No matter where the note is in the structure. In the example below you can see that I selected the tag “Financial Product”, it shows notes from two different notebooks (Active Trading and Index Investing). To summarize, this will make finding notes based on subject easier.

Evernote Zettelkasten
On the left side you can see the tags, financial product is the tag selected.

In the coming months I will keep expanding my collection of notes. Currently the notes mainly consists of information found on the internet, to show off the Zettelkasten system within Evernote. In the coming months I will actively keep using it, to describe information and ideas. Additionally I will use it to detect patterns within them, to generate new ideas. By doing this I hope to take full advantage of this method, I think this can only be done by using it extensively. After using it I will give an update on my experience, when the time comes.

Want to learn more about Zettelkasten?

Then I recommend the following book. This is the step-by-step guide on how to set up and understand the principles behind the note-taking system that enabled Luhmann to become one of the most productive and systematic scholars of all time: How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases) You can also first read my blog post about the book, where I describe the core concepts, so you can better determine if it suits your needs: How to Take Smart Notes – #7 My Experience.

What are your experiences with Zettelkasten?, Which note taking system do you use? Let me know in the comments, I am eager to learn from others.

Thanks for taking an interest in this post, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment with feedback. This helps me to continuously improve the website.

Further Reading

More about the method

Download Evernote