Using Zettlekasten numbers to make your file names unique opens the door to linking your thinking in powerful ways. In this article I share the method and a template I use.


Combining the Zettlekasten linking system with PARA makes my notes unique and easier to find.

Why it Matters:

Once you start to build a large library of notes, one problem you will likely run into is that you start to get duplicate note titles. Using the Zettlekasten number, or unique number naming system makes every note unique. Obsidian supports aliases to keep links readable.

Big Picture:

I learned how to use a Zettlekasten before I learned about PARA. The Zettlekasten (German for note box) method is all about intentionally connecting ideas. Innovation is literally defined as forming connections between two seemingly unrelated things. This makes a Zettlekasten a powerful tool for generating insights. What's more, like the human brain, the more associations you have with an idea, the more valuable it becomes.

It is the Zettlekasten, not PARA that makes a note system a second brain.

How It Works:

The core concept is that you want to have one idea per note, then link your notes in a chain so you can step backward and forward through them like flipping pages in a book. The second core concept is that you will connect these pages to other similar ideas, regardless of how they are organized in your note system. If one idea makes you think of another, then link them.

Note: Neither PARA, nor Zettlekasten use tags.

There are several core elements you want on each page (and it is easy to make a template of these):

  1. Name your note using a unique identifier
  2. Have a title (level 1 heading)
  3. Use next, and previous page links.
  4. Add a connections section at the bottom of the page for cross linking.

My format goes a step farther, and I'll share that template. I add:

  1. Overview (level 2 heading) - so each note has an excerpt or executive summary.
  2. Content (level 2 heading) - the actual information.
  3. I use an alias in the frontmatter of my notes so my links are human readable.

Obsidian provides automatic support for generating unique identifiers, but you can easily generate your own. Basically start a note with the year, month, day, hour, and minute you created the note as one long number. The identifier for this article is 202311260719:

  • Year: 2023
  • Month: 11
  • Day: 26
  • Hour: 07
  • Minute: 19

It is exceptionally rare to create more than a note a minute. Some people only use the unique identifier, but I add the level one heading I give the note as well. So this note would have a file name: 202311260719 - Linking Your Thinking. The alias for this file would therefore be (and is): Linking Your Thinking.


Using the Zettlekasten system In your second brain transforms your notes into an idea farm, associating ideas in ways that make it easier to surface and use what you have learned.

Go Deeper:


Aliases: [simple file name]
Author: Scott Novis

# {{title}}
**Prev Card**: _none_
**Next Card**: 

## Overview 

## Content

## Connections
- [[{{date}}]]

The three hyphens --- at the first line of the file mark the next few lines as frontmatter. The second line of three hyphens ends the frontmatter block. Frontmatter has become properties since version 14 of Obsidian. The Aliases allow me to rename the file to something more human readable. I always include my name as the author for my notes. The {{title}} inserts the file title and {{date}} inserts a date which matches my daily note format. This template requires some editing after it is expanded. It is possible using Templater to create a macro which does all the editing automagically. I'll cover that in a later blog post.