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Ric Raftis Consulting

How to use Folding and Callouts in Obsidian Maps of Content (MOCs) for Compact Appearance

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Introduction

Maps of Content (MOCs), even notes, can potentially get quiet long. At some point in time they may evolve into two or more MOCs with another higher note above them. This happens as your MOC grows in concert with the notes it links to. Long notes can be difficult to scan so you can put your finger on useful information quickly. In this article, we will look at ways to condense MOCs to more scannable documents using several methods.

Editor Switches

The first thing to do in order to allow you to condense your MOC is to turn on a couple of switches in the Editor.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Then Editor
  3. Turn the switches on to Fold Headings and Fold Indent. This will allow you to collapse all headings and all indented areas including lists, both bullets and numbers.
Image of editor settings in Obsidian
Image by author

To demonstrate this in this article, here is an image with all the headings collapsed. Bear in mind this was inserted once the article was completed so you can see the effects in their entirety.

Image of this note collapsed except for two paragraphs

Image of this note collapsed except for two paragraphs
Image by author

Hierarchy of Folding

You know folding is available by the appearance of a caret when you hover to the left of a heading. The v icon means it can be folded and the > means it can be folded or collapsed. You need to be aware that if you fold a H1 heading, then everything under it will be hidden until you reveal it again.

If you have a H1 heading, then a H2 and then a H3, if you fold the H2 then the H3 will be hidden. If you fold the H3, the others will still be expanded. You will get the idea quite quickly when playing with it.

Note that when a heading is folded that there are three dots after the heading.

Using Callouts

Callouts can be a fantastic way to conserve screen real estate. They can also be used in several different ways in both notes and MOCs to display data. Before we get into a demonstration, a plugin might help.

Callout Manager

A useful community plugin you can install to easily find out what sort of callouts are available is Callout Manager. Calling up the Command Palette with Ctrl/Cmd + P and type “callout” to bring it up in the modal and you can select it to see what callouts Obsidian offers as defaults. You can also add your own including selecting icons and colours.

Screenshot of all the callouts supported from Callout Manager Plugin

Screenshot of all the callouts supported from Callout Manager Plugin
Image by author

Callout Examples

The syntax for using callouts is the same for all of them. The only thing that changes is the name of the callout which will determine its colour and icon. These are configured in the main css file of your theme, or in the css file of the Callout Manager.

All callouts start with typing the greater than (>) into your note. The code for a Note callout would be:

Image of code to create callout
Screenshot image by author

which will display like the callout below.

Screenshot of callout in display mode.
Screenshot image by author

How to Fold Callouts

The default mode for a callout is being open like the one above, but you can set them to default as closed. This is done by simply adding the minus (-) symbol after the closing square bracket. In addition, headings above callouts will fold them and you can also fold them using the greater than and down arrows similar to headings.

Other Uses of Folding

Another very useful benefit of being able to collapse or fold notes is if you are doing an online presentation. You can start with all of your headings collapsed and then only display the section you are speaking about. This means less distraction for your audience.

Tip: You can also install the Community Plugin Hotkeys ++ to toggle the readable line length on or off. I have this configured for Alt + L. This can provide you with the width you want when scanning a note.

Use Headings to Advantage

When compressing the visual size of your notes or MOCs, use headings to your advantage. If you use a H2 as your main heading, you can then type some important text under that or insert an image, but keep it short. Then use H3 and H4 headings below that and collapse them. The headings will prompt you on the content on a quick scan, but you are not being confronted with a page full of text.

Conclusion

The ability to collapse headings and callouts on a hierarchical basis is a great way of calling up a really brief, quick to scan note. The longer the note, the greater the benefit because you are not scrolling all the way to the bottom to find the section you are seeking. If you experiment with these tools in MOCs and notes, you will find them very valuable.

Bonus Video

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