Zim - A Desktop Wiki


Zim can be used in several different ways. In this section, we would like to give some examples of possible usage patterns, but this is in no way an exhaustive list. Also, these styles could be combined in a single notebook, e.g. one could dedicate a notebook to a particular project and combine the organizer and journal styles in using it. However, it is better to have several specialized notebooks than one big dump of unrelated material.



By use case:

Use cases:

Topic based notebook

This is the simplest use pattern where a notebook simply contains a collection of notes on various topics. Each topic can have its own page or can be spread over several sub-pages when it is subdivided into multiple sections. This is for example the way a student taking class notes would work.

Topics can be organized beforehand, like in the case of a student taking class notes, or can emerge over time. An example of the latter case is a notebook used to jot down brainstorm ideas, which are unorganized at first and may go into one big page, but afterward are divided over various pages and categorized.


When a zim notebook is used as an organizer typically it will contain a collection of notes on various ongoing projects, task lists, etc.

For this use one would typically enable the Task List plugin and set it to show all open checkboxes throughout the notebook. Now on each page one can define tasks and action items and the Task List dialog will give an overview of all open items.

The Journal plugin can also be used for an organizer. It is not really intended as a planner, but can be very useful to keep notes by date, e.g. meeting minutes, etc. In combination with the Task List plugin one can write down his action items as checkbox items during the meeting by date and have them show up in the Task List.

See also Getting Things Done

Document Editor

Notebooks can also be used to edit full-size documents. You could either publish directly from zim, e.g. as HTML or use zim to draft a document and then go to a word processor to finish the formatting, etc. The advantage of using zim is that you can break down a document into small pieces and edit each of these on a separate page. Re-ordering and organizing content is convenient this way. Once the order and sequence is more finalized, other tools could be used to take over the editing process.

For this use the Task List plugin can be used to flag places in the document that are not yet finished or need more attention. Typically one would configure the Task List to use labels, with that usages one can have inline comments in the document using the tags "TODO" and "FIXME". The Task List dialog then gives a list of places where one needs to come back later.

See also: Creative Writing


A journal-style notebook would rely heavily on the Journal plugin to keep track of notes by date. This style can be used e.g. to keep a diary or as a laboratory journal documenting progress by day.

This style can be mixed with notes per topics, using the journal pages as a kind of inbox for raw notes keeping track of what happened while using pages per topic to organize and distill conclusions or to write down procedures to be followed, etc.

See: Daily Journal

Collection Manager

In this style, the notebook is used as a database of for example books, movies, stamps, etc. One dedicates one page to each item in the collection and puts all info about the item in there.

In this style of notebook, the Task List and Calendar plugins are probably not used.