Zettlr - The Unsung Hero of Notetaking

Notetaking and productivity software is a rabbit hole (and one I have plans to write a lot about!). So many methods, ecosystems and software options competing for your sanity. It's easy to get hooked to the hunt, rather than actually getting stuff done or improved.

My notetaking tool of choice is Zettlr , for many reasons. Chiefly:

  1. Notes are markdown based, and Zettlr has incredible formatting/exporting options for this
  2. Zettlr has everything you need to turn single notes in to connected networks of thoughts/ideas
  3. Some special features that really improve the writing and reading experience

Markdown - the best format

Markdown really allows me to trust my notes are evergreen. I'm never going to lose them to a proprietory format that I can't access in the future somehow.

As well as that, it allows for exporting to nearly anything else useful. Zettlr supports HTML, PDF, Docx, restructuredText, Org, LaTeX and a host of other options. I can start writing regardless of where it will end up (this post is being written in Zettlr - in markdown - which my site generator translates to HTML).

Get your zettelkasten on

A big buzzword in recently years in productivity circles, zettelkasten is a process of using "index-card like" note structures and giving each an ID. You can then connect notes using their IDs to produce a map of interconnecting thoughts and ideas, which can help see how different areas of your notes intersect.

Zettlr supports traditional zettelkasten ID numbers, which allow a note to reference another note easily. There is also a traditional file-browser navigation, so this method is never forced on the user.

Special features

A few of my favourites include:

  • Great tag browser
  • Writing stats
  • Great search
  • File attachments to notes
  • Formatting menu that makes writing so easy
  • Readability mode that assesses your writing for understandability (this sentence fails!)

I have an article in the works that documents every tool I've looked at recently for knowledge management, but for now, Zettlr is ticking all my boxes. It's free, open-source, and available for any platform at zettlr.com