Beginner's questions about using Zettlr for Zettelkasten
I just started my first Zettelkasten, for which I'm using Zettlr. I have three initial questions.
- Why bother with markdown? I understand markdown is plain text but easier to use than LaTeX or CSS. But unless markdown files are rendered, they're still less intuitive than rich text or even just plain text. Used for a Zettelkasten, I expect to be working with the original, unrendered .md files. So, for example, citations in the .md file don't expand to have the bibliographic information, and although .pdf files will have the information, I don't plan to use them. Wouldn't it just be simpler and more effective to export the item from Zotero ("Create Bibliography from Item"), copy it to the clipboard, and just past its information in the .md note? More generally, except for the rare instance when you'd want a nicely rendered .pdf (or other) note, what value added does unrendered markdown contribute?
- Custom hanging paragraphs. Niklas Luhmann's "literature notes" use a very natural hanging paragraph style, with the page number hanging to the left and his note in the body of the indented paragraph. This seems very natural, but it's not easy to implement in Markdown. Is there any easy way to implement this style in Zettlr, or does one have to mess with tables or css?
Create permanent notes on the fly. Unfortunately, I just discovered Zettelkasten and have literally hundreds of documents marked the old fashioned way: underlined sentences, bars in the margin for varying levels of emphasis, and marginal notes. Furthermore, I have a very satisfactory workflow using PDF Expert on an iPad to read and annotate documents and Zotero on desktop & laptop computers to store documents and keep bibliographic information. Eventually, I'll probably install a markdown app on the iPad, so I can create crude literature notes as I read. But for now, my workflow is to:
3.1. Upload the marked document from the iPad back to my Zotero-managed library
3.2. Relink the marked (uploaded) .pdf document to the Zotero reference item
3.3. Open the marked document in Adobe Acrobat on the desktop computer, and
3.4. Review my annotations.
In this last step I'm finding that I want to make "permanent notes" with ideas and comments that come up as I review the annotated document. So, as I review it, I'm also selectively adding notes to the corresponding "literature note." But as I come up with ideas and comments, I also want to create corresponding "permanent notes," which should be linked to the literature note. Short of manually creating a new .md document to serve as a permanent note and then linking to it from the literature note, is there any quicker, easier way to do this? (E.g., position the cursor in the literature note and press a function key, which would then create a new Zettelkasten document pre-formatted to serve as a permanent note, add a link to it from the literature note, and allow the user to enter text on the new (permanent) note and easily return to the original (literature) note.)