I’ve recently restructured my Home note in Obsidian as a result of doing the Linking Your Thinking workshop. This is the third workshop I have done and I learn new and amazing things every time. The learnings do not come from the workshop alone, but through the interaction with the amazing fellow travellers who are also diving deep into the world of Personal Knowledge Management.
Before I go on to explain my Home Note, I feel it is important to make clear that there is no right or wrong way for a Home Note to be done or any Personal Knowledge Management structure. It is all about what works for you and this is just my way of doing it. If that helps you, or gives you some ideas, then this article will have served its purpose.
What is the Home Note
If you imagine an organisational chart, at the very top level sits the CEO. This is your Home Note. The structure you apply to it should allow you to drill down to the lowliest note in your vault. Likewise, the lowliest note in your vault should lead you all the way up to your Home Note.
There are any number of ways to construct a Home Note as mentioned above. In the Obsidian space I have seen some amazing Home Notes that could easily be described as works of art. Although many people use a text based and linked Home Note, others are finding amazing ways to use the Canvas core plugin for Obsidian.
I try to keep all my notes clean and organised and my Home Note is no different. I want to be able at a glance click on a link to take me deeper. My current Home Note is probably the fifth iteration, and there will probably be more in the future as my Obsidian vault evolves. I only have links which are generated by a dataview query to all my Maps of Content (MOCs) and Indices. You might also note I have another section, again generated by dataview, of any imports of notes from Readwise that I need to process. Finally, I have my favourite inspirational quote.
Figure 1: My Home Note
If you would like to emulate the views in my Home Note, the dataview code for the MOCs is:
TABLE without ID file.link as "Note Title", file.mday as "Last Modified"
WHERE tags = "#type/map"
SORT file.name ASC
The other two tables are based on the same syntax. It is just the tags that change.
To achieve the header in the Home Note, you will need to install a couple of community plugins. The first is Banners, that provides the ability to place the banner image at the top of the page.
Figure 2: Banner Community Plugin
Below is how I have set up the options. It is worth noting that you can adjust the height of the banner and its alignment on the page for horizontal and vertical positions.
Figure 3: Banners plugin Options
The second one is optional and called Force View Mode of Note. This plugin allows you to force the viewing mode of any note in your vault, not just the Home Note. If you have your default view mode set to Editing as I do, then the Home Note will display in that manner with all the frontmatter visible and the layout ready for editing. Once you have completed the setup for displaying a banner in a note, you will want it to render in accordance with your settings which is why you force it to open in Reading or Preview Mode.
Figure 4: Setting for default note view in Settings
Frontmatter Code Syntax
To pull this all together, you will need to add some instructions at the head of your Home Note. Mine looks like the code below and I will explain each line.
Frontmatter code for Home Note
<div class="title" style="color:black;">THE SPONGE</div>
The first line is telling Obsidian that this is YAML frontmatter. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. The second line is calling the Force Note View Plugin and telling Obsidian to open the note in Preview or Reading mode. I will get to the cssclass: dashboard further on in the article.
Next is telling Obsidian where it can find my banner image. I don’t have a specific folder for banners set up in the plugin options, so Obisidian will search through the entire vault to find the image file named in the header. The banner_y line is setting the position of the y axis of the image. There is plenty of information in the Banners plugin documentation explaining more about what you can do.
The next line of dashes closes the YAML header which is followed by some HTML code for the Title of the Home Page and the colour of the text. You will need the Dashboard++ css file to insert the title. This will then render the Home Note as in the image above.
CSS Class: Dashboard
This CSS snippet was written by TFTHacker and you will find a full article on it on Medium. The snippet creates a page that can render in columns as shown in the image below from the article. This can be a very effective way of displaying information and links on a Home Note or even a Map of Content (MOC).
Figure 5: Home Note with columns using Dashboard++
Once again the power and flexibility of Obsidian shines through as a note making tool for Personal Knowledge Management. You can find more examples of Home Notes and commentary on the Obsidian Rocks website. Although there are very large Home Notes that contain a considerable amount of text, or Obsidian Canvases that you need to scroll through the screens, my view is that they are not practical. My suggestion is to keep your Home Note small and compact so you can take it in immediately on a glance. If you have a whole heap of “stuff” in your Home Note, consider breaking it down into sub-notes to the Home Note. These would become top level Maps of Content (MOC).
Finally, having setup your Home Note, you can have it automatically load when Obsidian starts up using either the Home Page plugin or the Workspaces Plus plugin.