bullet journal symbols

Bullet Journal Key Ideas [with examples]

Bullet Journal Keys | Bullet Journaling Legend

Today you’re going to learn:

  • what is a bullet journal key
  • how to use bullet symbols and bullet journal code for bullet planning
  • three awesome bujo keys tips
  • bullet journal key ideas

So let’s get started!

Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest mistakes every bujo newbie makes (including myself) is a lack of knowledge on bullet journaling basics. In most cases, we want to learn how to start a bullet journal because of the aesthetic aspects of this system. 

Clearly, there are many artists in a bullet journal world. Their spreads take the breath away. As a result, you begin with bullet journal lettering or doodle tutorials. And it’s ok unless you focus on your creativity and art skills.

However, if you want to be more productive, manage your time wisely and organize the entire life, it’s worth learning how does bullet journal work.

Rapid Logging

Generally, what set the bullet journal apart from the ordinary planner is rapid logging. Basically, the logs should be minimal, simple and straight to the point. 

More information you can find here.

The main reason for setting up a journal key is to create a simple bullet journal code that enables you making short and brief to-do lists. That’s why when you don’t know what you have to do next, one look at a daily plan and you’ll stay on track all day long.

What is a Bullet Journal Key

Bullet Journal keys are the list of different bullets. They make your bullet journal organization system so much easier. In fact, you’ll be able to organize your tasks, events, appointments, meetings, notes in a fast and uncluttered way. Along with the daily to-do list, you can use a bullet key for emails, calls, new ideas, or even the weather.


The most popular bullets are these ones from Ryder Caroll- the inventor of the bullet journal method.

However, you can adjust the symbols to your needs.

Here are free bullet journal key printable you just print out and use as a reference.


Now, when you know what bullets are, it’s time for signifiers. These are symbols that will modify the bullets. 

In general, signifiers will tell you about the task stage and/or status. 

Moreover, signifiers help you to prioritize tasks. You can simply incorporate the Eisenhower decision matrix into a bullet journal and use signifiers like asterisk or exclamation point next to the bullets. It’s a great way to focus on the most important things to do and eliminate the insignificant ones.

Color Code

Besides bullets and signifiers, you can use colored key identifiers for mapping out daily activities like eating, sleeping, working out, reading, meditating, using social media, etc. Therefore, it’s easy to see if you spend enough time taking care of your body, mind, and soul or just wasting your precious time scrolling through the Instagram feed.

Also, coloring code is another great way for the bullet journal organization. 

Basically, you tag your life into categories like kids, work, school, blog, finances, etc. Firstly, it seems to be complicated, but after a while, you’ll get used to it.

If you’re wondering how to color code your bullet journal, you’ll find more information below.

Bullet Journal Key & Planner Color Coding Categories:

  • students: school subjects, extra school activities, homework, projects, parties, events, work, home responsibilities
  • bloggers: blog posts ideas, social media marketing, guest posts, backlinking, online courses, email marketing, new articles, graphic design, new pins
  • entrepreneurs/freelancers: website maintenance, marketing, team, projects, finances, goals
  • stay-at-home mom: meal planning, cleaning, kids, family events, fitness, kids activities

Color Code Planner 

First and foremost, you need to write down all aspects of your life you want to be organized and narrow them down to a manageable number (for you). I’d suggest sticking with 4-5 categories especially at the beginning. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed.

Secondly, create a color code key and assign each category a color. 

Now, you can start actually planning. 

What are the best pens for color coding? 

Color pens

These ones come with 18 colors. They’re affordable and don’t bleed through the paper. The fine tips help to get clean, thin letters. The colors are vibrant and they stand out in a bullet journal.


They come with a limited amount of colors. If you want to have more categories later, it may be a problem. However, I find these set of 10 highlighters. The colors seem to be vivid. Check out 5-start reviews but read the negative feedback as well.


My absolutely favorite bullet journal product for color coding. If highlighters are too dark and overwhelming for you, I’m pretty sure that you fell in love with these mildliners.

How to Make a Good Bullet Journal with Key and Color Coding

In this case, you use bujo key and color code together. You write down all your things to do with bullets, using color pens. Alternatively, you use a black pen and mark them with highlighters according to the color code. In the evening, you add signifiers and see which tasks you‘ve accomplished, which tasks you have to migrate or cancel.

bullet journal key ideas

How to Use Bullet Journal Key

To clarify how bullet journal symbols work is to show you a real-life example.

For example, here is my weekly bullet to-do list:

bullet journaling legend

As you can see, I planned some blogging and housework tasks. In addition, I marked family events like my son’s birthday and family trip.

At the end of each day, I’ll put relevant signifier. For instance, if I clean floors on Monday, I’ll use x as a completed task. However, if I don’t have time to do laundry on Wednesday, I’ll fill the box with an arrow as migrated task.

BuJo Keys Tips

  • remember, less is more. Keep your symbols and signifiers simple. If you use too many complicated bullets, your bujo key turns into Enigma code. Instead of rapid logging, you’re going to be forced checking out the meaning of the key symbols every single time.
  • bullet journal key doesn’t have to be aesthetic or artistic at all. What is more important, it should be customized to your life. Choose your symbols intuitively. For example, you may prefer to use a square symbol for tasks. Here are some cool but simple planner doodle ideas.
  • when you’ve just started using the bullet journal legend, this is the best bullet journal hack you’ve ever heard. If you don’t remember your symbols, signifiers and color code, add your bullet journal key as a flip-out page in the back of your notebook. It makes planning so much easier.
bullet journal keys

Bullet Journal Key Examples

Grab some Pinterest inspiration and modify it for your lifestyle and needs.

bujo key symbols

Bullet Journal Key Ideas-Final Thoughts  

The most beautiful part of bullet journaling is fully customization and simplicity. You can create your own bullet journal legend or use the Ryder’s one. You don’t need to stick to the rules or inspiration. Just set up bullet journal key suited to your needs and find your own way for bujo planning.

What’s Next? Check out More Bullet Journal Basics:

  • How to Start a Bullet Journal
  • Free Bullet Journal Printables
  • 2019 Bullet Journal Set Up
  • key symbols bullet journal
    bullet journal key examples

    Key for Bullet Journal  | Bullet Journal Key Ideas

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