Org/ vs. org/org-roam/ directories OR am I supposed to link to files outside of org-roam?

I am still figuring out how to use org-roam for notetaking.

One of the issues I am facing is trying to delineate org files and org-roam files.
I wonder what is seen as “best practice” and how people on this forum separate the two.

Do you keep org files that belong to org-roam separate? OR do you keep the two together as one folder?

If you keep two folders separately, do you ever find yourself in need to link from an org-roam file to a regular org-file? Do you see that as an issue?


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I separate Org Mode and Org-roam directories. My criteria of separation is that all todo’s (daily, long-term, projects) are Org Mode. All the notes are Org-roam. This essentially means that my use of Org Mode is purely to generate Org Agenda as a tool to visualize my various todo lists (daily, projects, etc.).

I don’t know if my approach is common; the important thing is it works for me. I have seen some of us in the community merge Org Mode and Org-roam as a single tool for agenda and note-taking.

I don’t believe we have seen any set of practices established as “best practices” collectively in this community. My approach above is just my personal one.

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Personally I use all my .org files in my org-roam folder. Only the “dailies” files are in a “log” folder which is itself in the org-roam folder. My GTD and calendar files are not in the same folder but I make links in my events or tasks to the org-roam files. In “level” terms…

1 Org (dir)
1.1 GTD (dir)
1.1.1 (file)
1.1.2 (file)
1.2 Org-roam (dir)
1.2.1 (file)
1.2.2 (file)
1.2.3 journal (dir) (file)

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@nobiot @bepolymathe
Thank you for sharing your setup.
I’ve been struggling to figure out what would work best, so that’s certainly very helpful.

Part of the reason why this question came up is that I am not entirely sure what org-roam links bring to the mix relative to “normal” org links.

So looks like you’re making links from GTD to roam files and those are “normal” org links and not “roam”-like links?
Do you ever link back from org-roam files?

@nobiot do you ever find yourself adding a todo in a org-roam document? do you parse org-roam files when you create your agenda?

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No, and no. The “separation” between Org Mode and Org-roam directories I mentioned above means this: no agenda items (TODOs in my case) from Org-roam notes.

Org-roam notes are … notes on my thoughts and references. If my mind triggers any action item when I am in a note, I simply create a new TODO entry via C-c C-c. I don’t feel I need to backlink this todo item to the note. For some reason, actions are quite separate from my thoughts and references in my world (I wonder why myself).

My org-agenda-files has only three files:

  • “~/home/journal/”
    simple list of TODO items , used as GTD inbox to review
  • “~/home/journal/”
    it should be the daily list of TODOs, but it’s becoming a damping ground; automatically changes when a new month starts
  • “~/home/projects/”
    list of TODOs from my personal projects; no work projects here

Org-roam directory is:
“~/evergreen”, which contains “work” and “personal” sub-folders.

It’s probably an idiosyncratic approach. I only began to use “work” sub-folder and Org Agenda this year (I am still adjusting the way I use them). My work is mostly organized through Microsoft Office 365 – especially Outlook (email is my GTD inbox most of the time) and OneNote (notes). My non-work life is mostly organised with an drawing app in iPad (as replacement for pen and notebook). Emacs started for me as a personal note-taking tool for non-work parts of my life (as drawing apps are not good at text and search).

Once again, I really appreciate you sharing the setup.

I am in the early ways of trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

For example, I just came to a realization that, for example, I shouldn’t be using my Apple Pencil for taking notes.
I am still not sure what to do with my “pen on paper notes” I feel like I will keep them for “fleeting notes”.

My work starts to mix in with my personal notes in org, not sure how I feel about that, but I guess I will find out soon.


My pleasure.

With the “pen and paper notes”, I share the same issue. I have been taking notes for work with OneNote, sometimes with Apple Pencil on iPad (it’s great that you can easily carry it around when you hop from one meeting room to another, pre-Covid times of course). OneNote has a great handwriting recognition, which works well with searching hand-written notes.

One thing I would like to experiment is a handwriting recognition technology via Azure or Google Cloud Platform, and use it to generate a searchable text. This way, I should be able to have an Org note (in Org-roam), attach a handwritten note’s image from iPad, and then make it searchable for Ripgrep in Emacs. This way, I should be able to emulate what OneNote does (and does well in one package…).

These handwritten recognition libraries are not part of their free-of-charge services, so I am wondering if it will be worth the effort for the long-term – but it would be much more fun to just even try it :slight_smile:


I keel my org and org-roam files separated. To me, my org-roam files are my “knowledge database”. I do not have TODOS in these files, and are not included in the agenda. On the other hand, I have many org files (nowadays around 70, usually one or more per project), with tasks, reference lists and code related to each project. All org files that are created outside of the org-roam folder are automatically added to the org-agenda file list. I also use org-journal (with weekly files) to do time management and record my daily tasks. My org-journal files are also included in the agenda.

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