What is a Bullet Journal Key?

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Bullet journals have become increasingly popular, as have different methods of the practice. If you want to keep your self motivated and staying on task, then using a bullet journal key is an excellent choice. Many people who use bullet journals aren’t aware of how useful a key can be, so let’s dive into the details today.

A bullet journal key is a legend that shows all of the symbols found in the bullet journal. It can include dashes, dots, crosses, and a variety of other symbols. The best thing about a bullet journal key is that you get to create what each symbol means. They allow you to stay much more organized.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about bullet journal keys:

  • The purpose of bullet journal keys
  • Tips to make an efficient, effective key
  • Whether or not you need one for you bullet journal

What is a Bullet Journal Key?

What’s the Purpose of a Bullet Journey Key?

Bullet journal keys have a plethora of uses, despite the fact that they can be summed up in one sentence. Perhaps the best thing about using these helpful tools is that they often take up one page. Such a simple process that only takes about 5 minutes can change the way you journal and the results you’ll earn.

Here’s a list of reasons that people make bullet journal keys:

  • As pointed out by Sheena of the Journal, bullet journal keys allow you to know which tasks are completed and which aren’t. If you’re always trying to figure out what your completion symbol looks like, it’ll appear far too chaotic to keep track of everything. You’ll end up repeating tasks.
  • You’ll be able to create unique symbols, such as a symbol that indicates a due date is one week away, or a specific client needs it done. If you ever get lost, you can refer to the key to know which client refers to which symbol, allowing you to meet deadlines and keep everything happy along the way.
  • Bullet journal keys can act as a page divider so you don’t get confused when you’re sorting through the pages. With so many dates and symbols all over the place, it’s reasonable that you might feel overwhelmed. A key page will take away the stress and organize your work without a problem.
  • You can use stickers in a bullet journal key for special events. Bullet journal keys don’t have to be symbols. They can be made with stickers and a variety of other items. Try the Cute Washi Tape by Mindful Margins*. Washi tape is one of the most popular forms of stickers in bullet journals. For more about how to make a great bullet journal, check our other article: How to Make and Use a Habit Journal: The Ultimate Guide.
  • Bullet journals allow people to stay motivated and on-task. Many motivation speakers claim that bullet journals have changed their lives. Rather than having a simple list of checkboxes, you’ll have a whole book to stay accountable. It’s an excellent method that countless people have found useful.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to use a key in your bullet journal. Since bullet journaling is designed to organize your thoughts, adding a legend of symbols seems like the best way to enhance the experience.

If you’re interested in making a bullet journal key, then proceed to the next section.

How to Make a Bullet Journal Key

Are you ready to make a key for your bullet journal? You’re in the right place to learn all of the insider secrets to create the most informative, unique bullet journal key.

Without further ado, here’s how to make a bullet journal key in five simple steps:

  1. Start by designating a page in your journal for the key. You can’t have the legend on multiple pages (unless they’re consecutive) or you’ll get confused. Most people choose to place their bullet journal key as the first or last page in the notebook so they’re able to find it right away.
  2. Diary of a Journal Planner suggests that you keep it simple and concise. You don’t need dozens of symbols if you don’t have a regular use for each of them. Unless you’re making special symbols for a load of clients, there’s no reason that your key should exceed between five to ten symbols.
  3. Follow traditional symbols so you don’t have to remember what they all mean (note that the key should clearly indicate the symbol next to its purpose). Checkmark or cross out each accomplished task, or create boxes that you can X out when they’re completed. You could also use stars to highlight important tasks.
  4. Set aside one line per symbol. There’s no need to have multiple symbols per line. It could make things a bit too complicated. You’ll end up crowding the journal and it’ll seem as if one symbol has multiple meanings. Find out how many lines you’ll need, box it off, and only use those lines.
  5. Last but not least, decorate the page. You don’t have to follow this step, but most people who use bullet journals like to decorate it to make it look unique. Traditional journals can seem monotonous, but by adding some flair, you’ll make it much more exciting and motivating.

Making a bullet journal key should be entertaining and informational. Don’t overdo it or make yourself worn out by spending too much time coming up with symbols. A basic legend is often more than enough.If you’re not sure if you need a key, read on.

Do You Need One?

It’s not uncommon for people to get carried away with bullet journals. Loading it up with stickers, countless symbols, and logos on every page. With all of these distractions, it’s important to remember that efficiency is the whole point of the process.

You’re not making a bullet journal as an art project, but as a note-taking/goal-setting notebook. If you feel that you’re getting overwhelmed with all of the extra components, then you should keep it simple and unlabeled.

What’s the purpose of your bullet journal?

If you’re only using it for chores or something non-work related, then you don’t need too many symbols. People who are able to get away with some checkmarks and cross-outs will be fine to go without a key. Furthermore, it might not be necessary if you’re already familiar with a legend system that you work with.

How many clients or people do you work with?

If you work with a lot of people, then you could make one color or symbol per person. It’ll allow you to make a space for everyone so you don’t do tasks for the wrong client. You’ll also be able to keep everything organized by using stickers if they work better for you.

Are you using stickers and multi-colored pens?

Speaking of which, if you have a lot of marked pens and stickers, you might not need a key. They’ll be color-coated for you, which means you can rely on those tools rather than making a bullet journal key.


Bullet journal keys are a great tool for many people, but they’re not a necessity. If you have trouble keeping track of what everything means and you want to organize it all, then a key can be a very helpful addition.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • Bullet journal keys are a page full of symbols that show what your marks mean.
  • You can use washi tape or colored pens to make it look more organized.
  • Consider separating everything based on the day, week, month, and year.
  • A bullet journal key shouldn’t be longer than one to two consecutive pages.


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