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Ric Raftis Consulting

How to Structure Your Notes in Obsidian with a Template

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Introduction

One of the best concepts you can employ with notemaking in my view is consistency. Not only consistency in adding notes regularly to your PKM, but consistency in how they are structured. The structure of notes can certainly evolve over time as proficiency and needs change, but that is not going to happen every second day.

In this article, I will share my Note Template. I will discuss how it is structured and why this works for me.

First Steps

Established users can skip this step if you have already setup the core Template plugin. It is for the benefit of new users.

If you are going to use templates in Obsidian, and I certainly recommend you do, then you will need to setup the Obsidian core Template plugin. Before you do this, you will need to create a Folder called Templates where you will store all the templates you create.

Then, go to Settings, Core Plugins and select the Template plugin. This will take you to the plugin options screen where you need to tell the plugin where the Templates directory is located. If you click in the space, it will bring up the list of all your folders. Simply click on the Templates folder and you’re done.

Now click on the Hotkeys menu item in the left hand column. Type temp… into the search box and you will see the Template plugin options shown. Create a hot key to easily insert a template. I use Alt + T. Close the modal and you are ready to go.

Creating Your Template

Create a new note in the folder where you store your templates. You could call it Note Template or something meaningful for you. The image below shows you the structure of the note. The {{title}} is a Heading 1 tag so use a single # and space before the brackets. All the other headings are Heading 2 tags, so use two ## and a space before the text. Finally, you can insert an image that will appear at the foot of every note if you wish. Use something that is meaningful to you about note making.

Note template
Image of my Note Template.

Creating New Notes

(This article was updated 3 Feb 2024 to reflect the new Properties fields in Obsidian)

  1. With your note template saved, open a new note and insert the name of your file at the top of the note. It is important you do this BEFORE invoking the template or your title won’t populate.
  2. If you have set your hotkey to Alt + T for inserting a Template, use those keys now and select the Note Template. If you don’t have any other templates, the Note Template you have just created will be automatically inserted.
  3. Your note is now ready for completion. The date will have already been inserted in the head matter along with the Title.

Populating Your Note

  1. Complete the head matter fields: Note that each property name has a colon after it which is automatically inserted using Add Property in Edit mode. In Source mode, these are visible

    Source mode view of Note Template
    Source mode view of Note Template
  2. Type: can specify the type of note i.e. Concept, Article, Reflection etc.
  3. parent: – use a link to go to the next level up from the note your are creating. If this is a Map of Content note, the next level up may be home. If it’s a note from a book, the next level up may be the actual book note. You can leave this blank.
  4. child: If the note is part of a hierarchical structure, this property can show a link to the note below it.
  5. siblings: Like the child property, but links to notes on the same level.
  6. tags: – insert useful tags for the note here. TIP – Always use singular tags so they don’t get duplicated with plurals, so #book and not #books for example.
  7. alias:: very useful for adding potential misspellings of your note, plurals or other terms you want this note found through.
  8. cssclasses: Property to add any css classes the note may need. Generally blank.
  9. created date: Automatically inserts the creation date of the note. It is important to format it with inverted commas around the field so the date is rendered correctly: i.e. “{{date}}”
  10. modified date: same as for created date. I populate this with the same date as created date and then modify it if I update the note.
  11. Title – Prepopulated providing you gave your note a name before invoking the template.
  12. What Sparked This Note? – We don’t write notes without a reason. What was the reason? I forget quite often what sparked a note and caused its emergence in my system.
  13. Links to Online Content – A useful placeholder to add links to articles, videos or other online content instead of having it buried in the article.
  14. The Note Itself – add your details.
  15. Edit – This is a placeholder for future changes. This is an advanced topic, but essentially provides a spot to insert text for bulk notes with a common term.
  16. Other Ideas Sparked From the Note – Record in this section any other thoughts you might have for related notes. I will often create links for these and even placeholder notes.

Conclusion

Having a note template will provide you with structure and consistency. As you should be able to see with the suggested template, it is not only a matter of creating a note, but also creating searchable terms, reference points and future proofing the note. The online links are recorded in a prominent place where they can be easily accessed instead of buried in the note. The note can also be searched by many methods and should also spark ideas for other notes.

It should go without saying that the template can be modified for your personal use to reflect your needs. That said, it should provide the basis for starting to create notes with a template.

Instructional Video

The video is the one originally created for this note and includes the old way of doing the Frontmatter. Use the new Properties as shown above.

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