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Naming Conventions

3rd May 2021 at 9:32pm

Naming conventions are rules about how sets of things should be named. Creating your own conventions will make it easier to create titles and easier to find tiddlers later.

Coding tiddler names

Sometimes it's helpful to include a bit of additional information in a title by convention. For instance, in my personal reading notes, I suffix the names of sources with the year of publication, and I prefix the names of people and organizations with Mr, Ms, or The. This makes it quick and easy to identify whether a tiddler I'm looking at is about an idea, a source, or a person.

Of course, I could get the same information by looking at the tags, fields, and text of each tiddler. But to do that, I would have to open each of the tiddlers, or create some extra tooling to see those values in a convenient format. Unless you intentionally hide it, it's rare to not be able to see the title of a tiddler, so if you have a simple piece of information you frequently need to see, it makes sense to include it in the title.


TiddlyWiki titles are, irritatingly, case-sensitive – you can create tiddlers called Apple Computer and Apple computer, and TiddlyWiki considers them different things. As such, it's a good idea to make sure you always capitalize things consistently, or you may end up creating duplicate tiddlers by mistake.

Some languages use Title Case, Where All Words Are Capitalized Except a Few Little Ones. Others prefer to capitalize only nouns in the phrase, or only the first letter. It doesn't matter what you pick, but pick a standard and always use it for your tiddler titles.

If you're using CamelCase titles, that point is moot, but several additional considerations come up:

  • It's useful to normalize the capitalization of weird things like acronyms: for instance, it's not WritingInHTML but WritingInHtml.
  • Some people make single-word titles into CamelCase by capitalizing a letter in the middle (e.g., writing ApPle instead of Apple). Aside from being pretty ugly, this can be dangerous since you might pick a different letter to capitalize the next time and not notice that you already have a similar tiddler; this is one of the main arguments for avoiding CamelCase altogether. Even if I'm using CamelCase titles for most tiddlers in a wiki, I prefer to dispense with the CamelCase and use extra brackets around any link where the title is naturally only one word.

Some people like to capitalize tags differently than content tiddlers (for instance, tags are all lowercase). I dislike this approach since tags really are tiddlers too, but if it's helpful for you, go for it.


Another way you can end up creating duplicate tiddlers by mistake is to write one of the titles in the singular and the other in the plural. This is especially common with tags. For this reason, I like to always write all nouns in the singular. So instead of tagging tiddlers with CoffeeOptions, we would tag them with CoffeeOption. This isn't as ungrammatical as it may look at first glance, since each tiddler with the tag is a single coffee option. If you prefer, you could just as easily choose to make all nouns plural, but it's best to pick one and stick with it.


If you have a lot of tiddlers of the same type or on the same topic, you might want to begin all of their titles the same way. For instance, we might begin all tiddlers related to the onboarding project with Onboarding. Often, people will separate portions of the tiddler name with a slash (/) or a colon (:), e.g., Onboarding/People or Onboarding:People.

As another example, in this book's wiki, all of the exercise tiddlers begin with Ex:, the code snippet tiddlers begin with Sn:, and the takeaway tiddlers begin with Ta:.

The advantages are that the related tiddlers then sort together in alphabetical listings, you immediately know that you thought of them as a unit even without looking at any fields other than the title (see Conventions, above), and it feels nice and clean. The disadvantage is that you end up thinking more hierarchically, which isn't always desirable: it now seems like this tiddler is part of this single, specific other thing, and less related to anything else it may be linked or otherwise connected to. Your titles may also look a little less pretty.


Exercise: (m) [Ex:NamingConventionImagination]

Identify a wiki you could imagine yourself creating, then write a set of naming conventions for it. These should include:

  • How exactly titles should be capitalized, including how acronyms and other weirdnesses will be handled.
  • Whether you use CamelCase titles, and if so, what you do if there's only one word or it otherwise doesn't match the capitalization rules required to create a link.
  • Any special rules that seem appropriate (e.g., names of sources end with their publication date or the word Source).

You can refer to the naming conventions for my Zettelkasten for an example.

Exercise: (m) [Ex:ProblematicTiddlerNames]

Explain what is potentially problematic about each of these tiddler names:

  1. Company Entry Doors
  2. Windows
  3. Tiddlywiki
  4. VisitingTheDMV
  5. Onboarding: Office chair selection

None of these are necessarily wrong – although they might be depending on your naming conventions – but they each exhibit a possible danger we discussed above.

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