Backlinking (bidirectional linking) examples, filtering backlinks, targeting backlink content

Backlinking in Amplenote provides a convenient way to connect your notes (and thus, ideas) together into a network of knowledge. It’s the perfect tool for those who want to collect thoughts, ideas, and research around a particular area of interest.

Here’s an example note that shows what it looks like to use backlinks to aggregate all past conversations on assorted topics of interest:

Backlinks being used to collect all tasks pertaining to a topic, like “Amplenote Ideas”

Which gives rise to the following tab in the “Amplenote: Ideas” note:

“Amplenote Ideas” note collects each mention of the note in the “Backlinks” tab

Some of the common “topics of interest” where we’ve seen backlinks used to aggregate mentions (i.e., you might want to consider creating notes for these, so you can link to them):

People being working with

Ideas to pursue on a work project

Facts about an area of personal interest

A class being taken at school

When it comes to quickly linking to another note, our help page on using double brackets for note creation is a great starting point on the most common way Amplenote users accomplish this. In addition to the convenient double bracket syntax, you can also type a note name into the standard Rich Footnotes URL field:

Creating a link into a note through the Rich Footnotes popup

When you’re creating a link into a note that is going to become a Backlink, you have many options to include the precise content that is shown in the Backlinks tab. The starting point to determine what will be shown in the Backlink tab is where your link occurred. Here are the rules we apply for links in various contexts:

linkLink in a paragraph

The Amplenote help page for setting up Shortcuts is linked to from the page for Jots. Thus, the Shortcuts page has a Backlink to the Jots note

The most basic case. If you link to another note in the midst of a paragraph of text, that paragraph will be shown in the Backlinks tab.

linkLink in a task or bullet item

When a note link occurs in the base bullet, all of the child bullets are included in the Backlink

If you link to a note from within a hierarchy, the entire hierarchy is included in the Backlinks tab.

linkLink in a heading

If you link from a heading in a note, like this:

Linking to “bread chronicles”

All content will be included up until the next head of equal or greater value. In the example above, we linked to “bread chronicles” from an h2, so all content is included up through the next h2, “Other kinds of bread.” Here’s the view from “bread chronicles”:

All content until the next h2 header is shown among the Backlinks

This effectively allows entire notes to be shown in the Backlinks tab, if one sets a linked note within an h1 at the beginning of the note.

Once a user incorporates backlinking into their regular workflow, a common problem that follows is having too many connections into a note. Bidirectional linking is less useful when you have such a long list of backlinks that you can’t find what the one you want. We’ve improved this by introducing the option to filter backlinks based on the tag of the source note.

Enter a tag to filter the list of backlinks that are shown

As an example, in the gif above I’m looking at the backlinks for my note on deadlifts. This list of backlinks can get very long, so whenever I want to exclude mentions that come from my (rather frequent) fitness journal entries, I can filter the backlinks to include only tags containing wiki, which is where more technical information tends to end up in my case.

If we think of linking between two notes as creating new meaning, filtering by tag would be akin to narrowing down the set of definitions for a concept.

Another way to visualize this: if you link every mention of a work colleague you interact with (say, @Huckleberry), and you include a mention of the project they refer to (say #Amplenote), tag filtering enables you to effectively find all instances in which you meaningfully interacted with Huckleberry about an Amplenote project.

Building on top of bidirectional linking, one of the improvements now available is the ability to find references to a note (aka mentions of the note title) and quickly convert them into links.

You can find unlinked references in the Find more references to this note section at the bottom of the Backlinks tab:

Note the “Find more references to this note” now available in “Backlinks”

Clicking on it will expand the section to include a list of all notes that contain the title of the current note.

Notes that reference the current note title, one click to convert them to official backlinks

In the picture above, every instance of the word Deadlift is featured on a separate row (even if they occur on the same line). This allows us to decide which occurrence makes sense as a link, in order not to break the semantic association between notes. Clicking on the link-shaped icon at the right end of a row will convert that reference to a note link and add it among the backlinks.

One of the key differences between “searching for a word across many notes” and “having backlinks from a note” is that the latter option gives meaning to a note by attaching it to another concept. This has factored into the adherence of note taking systems such as Zettelkasten. For the users among you that like being on top of the connections between their ideas, this feature will make it significantly easier to start interlinking your notebase.

Another more immediate example of where this is valuable is with mentions of books, films, people or other things that we normally refer to by proper nouns. If you want to start tracking all references to David Allen in your notes, you just have to create a page called “David Allen”, and then use unlinked references to create new links.

The Backlinks tab is available in Notes view mode. If you have made a Backlink into the note, you will see a set of tabs at the bottom of the note upon opening it. If there are no Backlinks into it, then these tabs will not be shown.

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