Custom Zettelkasten Stationery?

For those who have a significant paper-based zettelkasten practice, have you considered commissioning custom made cards? There are a variety of stationers who do custom work and one could also purchase directly from Chinese manufacturers to get costs down by buying in bulk.

Ryan Holliday is one of the few I’ve seen in the wild who has mentioned custom making cards, usually done on a per-project (book) basis where he’ll put a header title at the top of his note cards. Example:

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Other options could include doing custom/personalized stamps. (I have a date stamp handy for quickly stamping the dates of creation/updating in the corner of cards.)

I’m curious what suppliers/manufacturers folks have researched/used? What were your experiences? What sort of templates or printing did you use on them? Paper weight? Did you go Grid, blank, dot, lined, or all of the above? If you were looking to purchase something for yourself, what would you want?

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

7 thoughts on “Custom Zettelkasten Stationery?”

  1. No way. 😀 I’m debating even using store-bought index cards when I can gather so much office quality paper that is printed only on one side and could be used on the other side as a notecard. (As Luhmann did btw.)

    For now, using “fancy” index cards motivate me to keep going but as my practice strengthens and I run out of index cards, I totally see myself switching to good old A6 cards cut from bank statements, bills, single-use office papers and stuff.

    (I am the office paper waste up-cycling queen – I cut up used B4 office envelopes to use the back side to fold B6 envelopes for my personal correspondence, I bring home discarded office cardboard to shred and use as bedding in bird cages, in compost or as a fire starter in the fireplace in winter, and I already use cut-up office documents to lower my post-it use at work. :D)

  2. I’m a huge fan of digital over paper but what would you want on the custom stationary. A typical paper Zettle has:

    1. A unique identifier line or box
    2. A content section (I’d assume that can be most of the front and all the back
    3. A related notes section.

    I’d think a typical 5×7 index card with (3) in the top area, (1) in the lower left and (2) on all the rest does the trick.

    The main place I could see stationary helping is if you want the identifier to have distinguished sections. For example lots of people are using the Dewey Decimal System or Britanica Propedia classification for simplicity … while I think Library of Congress classification makes more sense since it is available and agreed by the publisher. You could potentially use both in the ID section.

  3. I don’t have any custom stationary, but I’ve looked around at stores near me (there isn’t much). I bought a stamp kit the other day, and some envelopes for some possible future use.

    My zk is still largely unorganized, and I’m trying to build something that will serve a handful of purposes (fiction and nonfiction writing, as well as the study of philosophy and history, and different journaling practices). It’s coming together, though I’m not exactly sure what to do with the stamp yet. For now I’m content with “save my hand”.

  4. i m thinking to buy a date and an number stamp.

    i’ve created some templates on paper, based on ideas of hipster pda. printing them is too slow.

    i now bring with me an a7 notepad and have memorised some templates that i draw quickly on paper when in need.

    as for stationnary, i’ve put some cardboard, with cardboard separator in it in big moving bags. i put them open on my desk. i put inside some cardboard phone boxes, or custom made cardboard boxes where i put my cards.

    easily moved, cheap, easily on place. quick. does the thing needed.


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