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(Archived) Question about tag levels

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Greetings, all

I have a question about using tags to set up a hierarchical-style notes database. Just wanted to hear what other people have been doing in this area.

I have 440 notes. They used to be in ~30 notebooks, but then I acquired wisdom and put all the notes into 3 notebooks, using tags to establish my "hierarchical" database. Of course, this has the two distinct advantages of (a) letting me create more than two levels of depth, and (2) allowing notes to show up under multiple nests.

However, I have been struggling with whether or not a note should be tagged with each level in a hierarchy. For instance, let's say I have this hierarchy: locations -> northern Europe -> England -> Cornwall -> pre-1000 BC artifacts. Right now, all of my notes are tagged with all of the levels of a hierarchy in which they sit, in this case 5 tags. I have been weighing whether it'd be better to just use the minimum tags required. For instance, northern Europe is obviously a location, so the location tag is unneeded on the note, even if Location exists as a tag in the tag list to store location-specific notes under.

Tagging a note with every tag in the hierarchy does accomplish the objective of letting one see exactly how many total notes exist under a category tag (for instance, 125 total notes under Locations, as opposed to zero if I don't tag the notes with the Locations tag), but it also makes it kinda cumbersome to tag every note, since some notes exist under multiple hierarchies each of which are a few layers deep.

So I am just kind of curious as to whether other people who are using tags to establish hierarchical order to their notes tend to tag all the way up the top level for each note, or push it down to a lower level.


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  • Level 5

Cutting back on the number of notebooks was a great move.

In my opinion, you are going to get bogged down with so many levels of tags.

I would try to keep the tags to just a couple levels - 3 at the maximum.

To help find the item, put some key words into your text for assistance in searching.

For instance at the end of a note on "The Mines of England", add

locations -> northern Europe -> England -> Cornwall -> pre-1000 BC artifacts.

A search will give you the count

And add a couple tags: Cornwall and pre-1000-BC-artifacts

Tag hierarchy example:








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  • Level 5*

Or (following Owyn's line), you could tag it once with "Loc_France". If you tag all of your locations using the "Loc_" prefix, you can search for all notes pertaining to location using the search string tag:Loc_*. This type of tag naming scheme encodes a sort of hierarchy in the name, and the added search capability can be useful, but it also means that you will probably wind up with a long list of "Loc_" prefixed tags, which can make choosing them during tagging operations more difficult. Trade-offs all around.

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Prefixed tags have several advantages as I use them.

  • Hierarchy embedded in tag
  • Can OR search group using * suffixed tags as described by Jeff
  • Can be nested under a collapsed parent tag, eg Locations, to reduce Tags display
  • Consistent coding by selection from tag dropdown(s)

In your case additional abbreviations in the tags might help, eg


Tag:loc_eur_n* = any Northern European location

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  • Level 5

I've been using a 3 character prefix on many of my tags for the past couple years. Not only does it group similar tags together in the Left Panel, it also helps me remember the tag name. Especially when i use Ctrl Alt T.

To avoid using quote marks, I do not permit any spaces in my tags. The spaces are always replaced with a dash. Here are a few of my tags as examples:



















p.s. the Per-Payment tag is very powerful when used with a company tag. It lets me find notes that contain payment information and eliminate the advertisements, the reminders, the non-payment related notes. So I can quickly see all my monthly payments to T-Mobile for instance.

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