When you look up bullet journals online, you might notice entries with a list of symbols and their corresponding meaning. This is not a strange language that you have to work with. it is called the bullet journal KEY.
When you start creating a bullet journal (or BuJo), one of the first things that you have to create is a bullet journal key. The key is your quick reference guide for the symbols or colors that you use in your bullet journal.
This is so important that some bullet journals for sale already have a page with a set of bullet journal keys. You just have to use them!
Here is a key page from my first bullet journal notebook.
I didn’t use that key page, though. I created my own. You see, when you create your own BuJo key, there’s this feeling that your bullet journal is your own personal space, and you are free to do anything you want with its pages! I needed that feeling.
How it all began
The whole concept of keys was introduced by the bullet journal method creator, Ryder Carroll.
You see, the original bullet journal was created for rapid logging or quick note-taking. The point is to capture information with less content, and organize that information with the symbols. Therefore, codes are used for easy input of information and to save time, allowing you to be more productive.
The classic bullet journal format categorizes information by events, tasks, and notes. Each of these categories has its own symbol. Then, there is also a symbol indicating your progress for each task – complete, migrated, canceled, or rescheduled.
Hence, the original bullet journal key was very simple:
But we are creative beings. So there have been many versions of BuJo keys since the bullet journal system came to be. And yes, you can create your own set of symbols!
Why should you use a bullet journal key?
1. Track appointments
You can easily track your appointments with a bullet journal key. Having a symbol for reschedules, changes, cancellations, and finished appointments allows you to see what you have to do in your schedule for the week or month by just scanning the page.
2. Track events
Suppose you are the type who keeps on forgetting celebrations and events that you have to attend. A bullet journal key can remind you of your schedule.
When you use these symbols for monthly layouts, peeking on your calendar will help you see immediately whether there’s something special coming up.
3. Track tasks that have been completed
Many keep a bullet journal to keep track of tasks and chores. This is common for those who use their bullet journals to track their school work or their deadlines or projects for work. It is like having a to-do list but in a creative and more flexible manner.
Using a bullet journal key helps you indicate quickly which tasks are done and helps you monitor your progress by simply scanning the page.
4. Record special memories
Bullet journals can be used to keep track of particular memories or events that transpired on your day – something that you would like to remember for life. You can make a bullet (symbol) for this to help draw your attention to such memories in your journal.
5. Notes that you want to remember
It may be a reminder about your job or a specific brand you need to pick up on the store. Many users assign a symbol for this too in their bullet journals.
Creating your own bullet journal key makes your BuJo more personalized and makes it feel like it is truly your own. You can choose any symbol you want, and if you are good at doodling, you can simply draw your own icons instead of using common bullet forms.
The result would be a unique bullet journal layout that you can be proud of!
Where to place your bullet journal key
It must be easy to find. Your bullet journal key details the symbols and color codes you are using, so it makes sense that it has to be accessible. Here are suggestions on where to place it.
1. First page
Not sure what to place in the first page of your BuJo? That can be the best place for your key! Present it in a nice and artistic way.
2. Last page
Some bullet journal enthusiasts prefer to place the bullet journal key on the last page.
This can be helpful if you use many symbols or codes, and you are using a small notebook, so you might need another page.
Or, if you decide to make changes, you can simply tear out the last page and create a new one – no one else will have to know!
3. Extendable flap
A popular option for bullet journals is to make an extendable flap that would be inserted at the edge of the front or back cover of your BuJo.
The flap is usually attached using washi tape. This way, no matter what page you are on, you can still easily access the key when you flap it out.
Create a blank bookmark and place your bullet journal key in it. This way, you set the bookmark on the latest page, and you can easily see your symbols.
Sample bullet journal key designs
And now, here are 20 sample designs of bullet journal keys. Use these for inspiration on creating your own, or…
1. Simple codes by The Vintage Wren
The codes are very simple – very easy to memorize. And do you see that big key drawing at the left side? I think that makes the page stand out.
2. Key and color codes by Square Lime Designs
Here’s another BuJo key with very simple symbols. And I love the color codes to keep track of things.
3. Colored squares by Micah
Not everything is square, I know. But go take a look again and notice that there are only three symbols in this key which are not squares.
Everything else is square – just different versions and colors. Hmmm… I didn’t know you could so much with a square! Nice key!
4. Codes in a code by Archer and Olive
I named this “codes in a code” because I noticed that she has this set of general codes, and then there’s more codes to represent the status of each task.
You can just combine all those codes, but I can see that this is a clearer way to present things.
5. Straightforward by Page Flutter
This one’s pretty straightforward. No need for a title that says it’s the key page. As long as the symbols and colors and what they mean are clear, you’re good to go! After all, this is your journal!
6. The Panda by Yu
This is a very simple BuJo key, but what really caught my attention was the panda. Oh it’s so cute!
This page shows us that you don’t have to be formal with your bullet journal key. You can draw something cute in it, something adorable, something that you’ll love to see everyday!
7. Key with doodles by Adaras Blogazine
This is another set of very simple bullet journal keys. But with those doodles around, it makes the page artistic and unique.
If you like to doodle, draw some in your key page. By the way, here’s a collection of simple doodles you can easily draw.
8. Flowers in the key by Amanda Wright
Here is another simple bullet journal key – with doodles. This time, it’s a flower doodle.
It looks like the flowers are blooming, and you can see that this design alone, make this page alive – even when it’s pure black and white! I guess that’s the magic of doodles!
9. Tabular form by Do It Before Me
This one’s in a tabular form, and not just that. What I like about this is that it’s in big size. It’s written clearly and in big sizes – friendly to the eyes!
10. The Student’s Key by The Party Goddess
When you’re a student striving to make it right in school, there are three important things you should not forget – assignment, exam and project deadlines. So if you are a student – make sure you have symbols for these three in your BuJo.
Of course don’t forget to add something relaxing in your schedule to reduce the stress.
11. Another student’s key by Diemmy BuJo
Here is another key created by a student. There are the symbols for vacation, TV series, self care and movies.
Even if you’re not a student, I think you need those four too from time to time, especially the vacation. Oh I love vacations!
12. The Busy Soul by Sweet Planit
This one’s obviously busy, with many symbols for many different things.
You see, when you’re very busy, being detailed does help so you don’t miss something important like bills to pay or a meeting to attend. So, if you need to be detailed too in your BuJo, then be detailed. But make it clear also, starting with the symbols in your key page.
13. Fun with Key by Wendy Solganik Artist Books
This key looks busy too with many symbols. But the frog at the bottom is just fun!
So again here’s a reminder. No matter how busy you are, you should not forget to have some fun, even when that fun is just a simple sticker in your BuJo!
14. Colorful key by Vinitha Mammen
When I first saw this bullet journal key, the colors really took my attention. The pink and purple combo are just catchy! It’s beautiful and attractive.
If you’ve got an inner creative in you, bring it out! And turn that simple key page into something bright and amazing!
15. Key with washi by Elizabeth Journals
When you’re including color codes in your key page, using washi tapes is a creative way to signify what these colors are. You can never really go wrong with a washi!
By the way, did you know that there are many ways you can color your BuJo using just washi tapes? Check out these awesome washi tapes ideas!
16. No big deal by Wellella
This key page shows us that we may not really need an entire page for our BuJo’s symbols. One fourth page for the symbols, one fourth page for the color codes, and that’s all it ever takes! Easy!
17. Minimalist Key by Natalie
If you prefer functionality over designs, this key page is another great example. It has the symbols and their meanings, and a simple title that’s big and bold, and that’s all that’s needed!
18. A little artsy by Elizabeth Journals
That art divider does stand out! I even noticed it first before the symbols and color codes. Again, don’t hesitate to put art in your bullet journal key especially when you feel like you want to be a little artsy!
19. Carefree by Partymazing
I feel happy looking at this key. Perhaps it’s because of the various colors, and those bubbles all around are just fun!
I bet when this page was crafted, the owner was also feeling happy making all those drawings, so her feelings were reflected in her work.
20. Just tape it! by Justbulletine
When you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to make a good key or not, create your key page in a separate paper. Then when you’re satisfied with it, well, just tape it in your bullet journal! Easy!
Time to make your own bullet journal key!
There is no doubt that a bullet journal key is a great and useful tool to help you be more organized. It helps you keep track of many things.
You can use it in whatever way you want to – for school assignments, work deadlines, diet tracking, or making sure you keep up with your fitness routine.
So now… it’s time to make your own key page! You can simply copy the ideas above, or make a personalized one. You decide.
The options you have in making a BuJo key are endless. You can get lost in every idea, symbol, color and designs.
But remember, the best bullet journal key is not actually the most creative one – but it is that one that works well with your system and your needs.
Cheers to your BuJo!