Index and Key: the Best 2 Ways of Navigating Your Bullet Journal

Two essential components that make bullet journaling so effective are the Index and Key/Legend system. The index works as the “Table of Contents” for your bujo and the Key is a system of navigating your bullet journal in most effective way. In this blog post, we will explore how to create and maximize the use of these two features to keep your journal organized, efficient, and easy to navigate and we will provide lot’s of examples so you can make the best out of your bujo.

The Bullet Journal Index: Your Roadmap to Organization

The Index is the backbone of your bullet journal, serving as a detailed table of contents that makes it effortless to locate specific pages, collections, or notes. It is a part of your yearly set-up. Here’s how to create and make the most of your Index:

  1. Create a Dedicated Page: Reserve a couple of pages near the beginning of your journal for the Index. Make sure they are clearly labeled, with “Index” as the header.
  2. Number Your Pages: As you go along, number each page in your journal sequentially. You can start this numbering process right from the first page or start it after the initial pages if you wish to keep those unnumbered. There are also lot’s of notebooks out there that already come numbered. Definitely something to consider when you buy your journal!
  3. Record Entries: Whenever you start a new page, collection, or entry, record it in the Index. List the page number and a brief description of the content. For example, “Page 5 – Monthly Goals,” or “Page 17 – Travel Bucket List.” You can also just record the months and weeks if you want to keep it simply, up to you!
  4. Update as You Go: Continuously update your Index as you fill your journal with new content. This step ensures that your Index remains accurate and helpful for quick reference. So the Index is something that grows with you when you fill in your bujo week by week. (main reason why you want to keep enough space, you never know how detailed you want to be)

The Bullet Journal Key/Legend: Cracking the Symbolic Code

The Key (or Legend) is an essential feature that assigns symbols or codes to specific elements in your bullet journal, helping you quickly identify the type and status of tasks or notes. There is a common system that most bujo journalers are using. It has proven itself as very helpful, so you can feel save to adapt it. However you can of course come up with your very own system. Here is how to set-up a key:

Create a Key Page

Designate a page in your journal for your Key. Add a title such as “Key” or “Legend.” This will hold an overview over your symbol system. You can put this page before or after your index.

Define Symbols

Choose symbols that represent different elements in your journal. Common symbols include:

– Bullet for tasks

X – Completed task

> – Task that needs to be migrated

< – Task that has been scheduled

– Note or idea

Many of those symbols are obvious how they are supposed to be used. “Task” means something needs to be done, “completed” is completed and a “note” is a simple note. Migrated and Scheduled, however, are symbols unique to the Bullet Journal system. The way they are used is in migrating and scheduling tasks for the months, weeks and days ahead.

Migrating and Scheduling explained

The flow of a bullet journal is about setting up all your tasks for the month first in the monthly spread and then at the beginning of the first week of the month you want to “schedule” all the tasks from that month into the first week, that you think you can do. So such a task is “scheduled”. If however you are not able to accomplish the task this month you “migrate” it into the next month, so you mark it as “migrated”. Like this all the tasks of one month should be either “migrated”, “scheduled” or been marked as “irrelevant”. You can do the very same flow from your weekly to your daily spread (if you have separated those). In the daily or last spread should be either “completed”, “migrated” or marked as “irrelevant”.

Key and Index: an overview and ideas of different keys for your bujo.

and now it is really up to you how many more symbols you want to introduce. You might want to try out a simple system first and then add on to it when you go along and see what you feel is missing.


Besides symbols you can also add Signifiers, those are “symbols that you can set next to your symbols”. Let’s say you have one very important task that needs to be accomplished before the othes, you can mark this with setting a signifier next to it. Maybe an Astrix (*), so you quickly see that task maked as special.

Set-up Colors

Besides Symbols and Signifiers lot’s of people also choose to set-up colors. You might want to write or mark things in your journal in specific colors when they fall into a certain category. Those categories could be “family and friends” or “job”. So when you see a certain event being colored in a specific way you know if it is an event with friends or a job-related event or what ever you chose to color code it.

Customize as Needed

Your Key is highly customizable. Feel free to add symbols that are relevant to your personal system. For instance, you could create a symbol for important deadlines or events.

Maybe you are using your bullet journal as part of a Book of Shadow then you maybe want to create all kind of alchemistic or astrological symbols. Maybe you are using your bujo for dream logging. In that case you could come up with a system of reoccurring themes! You can become really creative how you want to use your system. It is here to serve you and noone else.

Consistency is Key

The key to success with your Key is consistency. Use your chosen symbols consistently throughout your journal to maintain clarity. At the beginning you might forget all your different symbols. (You could mark the key side with a little index sticker, to quickly look it up) Start with a few keys and symbols and then build up and very quickly your system will become second nature.

Benefits of the Index and Key/Legend in Bullet Journaling

  • Efficient Navigation: The Index acts as a roadmap, making it easy to find the information you need without flipping through pages aimlessly.
  • Customization: Both the Index and Key are highly adaptable, allowing you to tailor them to your unique preferences and needs.
  • Clear Organization: The Key/Legend ensures that you have a standardized way to represent tasks and notes, maintaining a clean and organized journal.
  • Time-saving: With a well-maintained Index and Key, you can save time by quickly identifying and managing your tasks and notes.


The Index and Key/Legend are indispensable tools for any bullet journal enthusiast. They provide the structure and guidance needed to keep your journal organized and efficient. By implementing these features effectively, you’ll have a bullet journal that not only helps you stay on top of your tasks but also becomes a powerful tool for self-improvement and personal development. So, start creating your Index and Key, and watch your bullet journaling experience become more productive and fulfilling.

Guides Bullet Journaling

Learn different techniques of Bullet Journaling with our comprehensive guides.

Editorial Note: Morella&Ulalume Editors may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Furthermore the content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Prior to making any health-related decisions, including the use of supplements or dealing with decisions that can affect your mental health, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare provider.

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