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I Have Been Doing My Obsidian Maps of Content (MOCs) the Wrong Way

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Although Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) systems are definitely personal, it helps to have some decent hierarchical structure around your notes. For me, this started with being able to see at a glance what notes I had done in particular areas. It turns out that I mistakenly called these Maps of Content. It turns out that these weren’t Maps of Content, but actually indexes or “views” as Nick Milo from Linking Your Thinking calls them.

This article sets out to consider some terminology around the distinction between a Map of Content and an Index.

Index Definition

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines an index as “a list (as of bibliographical information or citations to a body of literature) arranged usually in alphabetical order of some specified datum (such as author, subject, or keyword)“. This definition describes what I have pulled together in my PKM vault. To demonstrate, below is an image of my “Map of Content” for all my notes on various apps. In reality, and in terms of the definition, this is not a Map of Content, but an index. Oh, and by the way, it has just been renamed as such as well.

Map of content that should be a view or index.

Map of Content Definition

After searching high and low, it seems Merriam-Webster doesn’t have a definition for a Map of Content and nor does any other authoritative academic source. As a result, it is probably best to look at the definition provided by the person who it seems coined the term, Nick Milo, from Linking Your Thinking.

So, let’s try and put this into some sort of perspective now given new understandings.

What a Map of Content Is

  1. A map of content is a freeform note that is generally created manually to contain an overview of something.
  2. It is a note that can be broken down into several components and can address a number of notes that make up a bigger idea or concept.
  3. A Map of Content can link out to a number of other Maps of Content in a hierarchical manner.
  4. A Map of Content note is an overview note
  5. A Map of Content provides structure for a number of other notes

An Analogy Might Help

It always helps to think in terms of metaphors, so let us consider a Map of Content in metaphorical terms.

If a car was the object of matter, we could call it either a Home Note or a Map of Content, the choice is yours.

  • Home MOC
    • Engine MOC
      • Fuel System MOC
        • Fuel Pump Note
        • Anti – Pollution Note
      • Engine Block MOC
        • Cylinder Head Note
        • Cylinder Head Cover Note
        • Gaskets Note
        • Pistons Note
    • Differential MOC
    • Drive Train MOC
    • Interior MOC
      • Upholstery MOC
        • Front seats note
        • Back seat note
        • Interior Electrics MOC
          • Radio note
          • Heater controls note
    • Body MOC

As mentioned above, this analogy is also intended to show how you can have multiple MOCs as part of a hierarchy of MOCs in your vault.


Is the above a perfect structure and system? Absolutely not. It is just another iteration on the way to building my own system. Given that personal knowledge management is personal, you won’t know what suits you until you test it.

It has been very helpful in my PKM structure to work through these concepts. I feel I can now apply much better structure around my own notes knowing that a Map of Content is not a dataview query displaying a list or table of other notes. Firmly fixing the concept of a Map of Content as being an overview type note provides the freedom and ability to think about the note in an expanded manner.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue of Maps of Content and structure around PKM. Please leave a comment and share with others how you structure your personal knowledge management system.


In what ways can we form useful relationships between notes? | by Nick Milo | Medium


1 thought on “I Have Been Doing My Obsidian Maps of Content (MOCs) the Wrong Way”

  1. Thanks for the article. It’s looks like I also using the wrong terminology! I named Index the file which according to your article is a MOC.

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