Obsidian Vault Template

I use Obsidian to write and take notes. This is my bottom-up approach to note-taking and organizing things I am interested in. It embraces chaos and laziness to create emergent structure.

In Obsidian, a “vault” is simply a folder of files. This is important because it adheres to my philosophy of File over app. If you want to create digital artifacts that last, they must be files you can control, in formats that are easy to retrieve and read. Obsidian gives you that freedom.

Get started

  1. Download the vault or clone it from the Github repo
  2. Unzip the .zip file to a folder of your choosing
  3. Open Obsidian and create a new vault pointing to that folder

Vault structure


Some of my templates depend on plugins:


I use very few folders. I avoid folders because many of my entries belong to more than one area of thought. My system is oriented towards speed and laziness. I don’t want the overhead of having to consider where something should go.

My personal notes are in the root of my vault. These are my journal entries, evergreen notes, and personal ideas. If a note is in the root I know it’s something I came up with. I do not use the file explorer much for navigation, instead I navigate mostly using the quick switcher or clicking links.

If you want to use this vault as a starting point the Categories and Templates folders contain everything you need.

The folders I use:

  • Attachments for images, audio, videos, PDFs, etc.
  • Clippings for articles and web pages captured with my web clipper written by other people.
  • Daily for my daily notes, all named YYYY-MM-DD.md.
  • References for anything that refers to something that exists outside of my vault, e.g. books, movies, places, people, podcasts, etc.
  • Templates for templates. In my real personal vault the “Templates” folder is nested under “Meta” which also contains my personal style guide and other random notes about the vault.

The folders I don’t use, but have created here for the sake of clarity. The notes in these folders would be in the root of my personal vault:

  • Categories contains top-level overviews of notes per category (e.g. books, movies, podcasts, etc).
  • Notes contains example notes.

Style guide

Templates and metadata

I use templates very heavily, because they allow me to lazily insert most of the metadata I need about any kind of note.

The .obsidian/types.json file shows which properties are assigned to which types.

  • Most of my properties attempt to be reusable across categories
  • Many properties have short names e.g. start instead of startdate
  • I use the list type more than the text type for many properties, because I find it useful to be able to enter multiple links

Categories and tagging

My notes are primarily organized using the category property. These also function as links that help me navigate to the overview note for that category. Some rules I follow:

  • Always pluralize categories and tags
  • Use YYYY-MM-DD everywhere
  • Use a single vault for everything
  • Avoid folders for organization
  • Avoid non-standard Markdown

Having a consistent style collapses hundreds of future decisions into one, and gives me focus. I always pluralize tags so I never have to wonder what to name new tags. Choose the rules that feel comfortable to you.

Rating system

Anything with a rating uses an integer from 1 to 7

  • 7 — Perfect, must try, life-changing, go out of your way to seek this out
  • 6 — Excellent, worth repeating
  • 5 — Good, don’t go out of your way, but enjoyable
  • 4 — Passable, works in a pinch
  • 3 — Bad, don’t do this if you can
  • 2 — Atrocious, actively avoid, repulsive
  • 1 — Evil, life-changing in a bad way

Why this scale? I like rating out of 7 better than 4 or 5 because I need more granularity at the top, for the good experiences, and 10 is too granular.