In what ways can we form useful relationships between notes?

  • Top-down categorizing has gotten a bad rap. It has a place.
  • Bottom-up creating is great, but it needs a bit of top-down structure as your library grows. But using just folders is the WRONG way.
  • Maps of Contents (MOCs) are game-changers.

Direct Links


  • If your goal is to manage projects, folders are great — maybe even ideal. You might decide that you want your projects to be actively walled-off units.
  • But once they are final, you take the extra steps of reformulating any good stuff into your main digital library.


Multiple Tags

Tags with Saved Boolean Search


  1. Organizing by Proximity in the main folder:
  • Alphabetical: Sure “Apple” and “Banana” start next to each other and hold a strong relationship. But over time that proximity will change; because years later the list looks like “Apple”, “aqua”, “aqualung”, “arabesque”, “arachne”, “arbiter”, “arc”, “arena”, “aries”, “arise”, “Arkansas”, “Banana”. So relationships that start out strong can weaken over time.
  • Chronological: If you sort by creation date, the proximities between notes won’t change but they are inherently more arbitrary (random), except for their temporal context (which holds varying value depending on the context).
  • Notes in the same subfolder will have a closer relationship since they are grouped in the same vicinity. But this comes at the cost of being silo-ed from the rest of the note library.
  • Notes in the same MOC are very likely to be closely related, especially after they are manually sorted in some form of relational positioning. This is the best way to apply the power of proximity.

Higher-Order Notes

Map of Contents (MOC)

  • Tag-like: It groups the links of associated notes in a non-exclusive way. (The notes themselves live freely elsewhere.)
  • Folder-like: It assembles notes in a tightly-packed grouping.
  • Proximity: It grants you the ability to deliberately position each note in relation to the other notes.

A Home Note

Don’t fall for the dogma



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Nick Milo

Nick Milo


Thinking about making notes for life. TV editing, Pink Gloves Boxing. Former civil engineer, college football coach, all-american, three-time national champion.