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20 Easy Bullet Journal Symbol Ideas for your Key

Let’s say you’re journaling and you find yourself having a hard time differentiating and prioritizing your bullet entries. Before I created a key for myself, I didn’t know what to do first and I didn’t know the importance of each task at a glance. 

The bullet journal key is one of the first components of your bullet journal. However, how do you determine what goes into it? What symbols should you incorporate to make your experience a more seamless one?

In this blog post, I will show you different ideas for your bullet journal key. It’s hard to know what to include if you are new to the system. 

What is the Key?

The bullet journal key or legend is a reference — it reminds you of what the symbols in your journal stand for. It goes at the beginning of your bullet journal.

Why should you include a key?

Sometimes we don’t remember everything. With the busyness of your bullet journal, sometimes I found myself blanking on what a symbol meant/stood for. Thankfully, I had my key, so I didn’t have to think for too long.

Bullet Journal Symbols and Signifiers

The symbols you use are essential: you use them in almost all aspects of your journal: in your collections, spreads, monthly logs, and daily logs. They are used in your rapid logging.  You want to use symbols that work for you. 

Similarly, signifiers, are additional symbols that provide more context and categorization. They help your bullets stand out.

A quick refresh on rapid logging: Rapid logging refers to quick note-taking. You capture and organize information in bulleted lists. Within these bulleted lists, you can differentiate the different types of tasks with different symbols.

Rapid Logging Example Bit of Clarity

Furthermore, without a system, it’s easy for certain notes to get lost. You want a system where each symbol can be addressed and noticed rather being drowned in a sea of tasks. Categorizing helps organize the chaos. However, how do we categorize each point?

Caroll Ryder, the creator of the bullet journal, provided some symbols and signifiers he uses in his journal:

bullet journal signifiers

How to Make a Key

The key goes at the beginning of your journal. Dedicate a page to this.

In your key, list out all the symbols you used. On the right of the symbols, write down what the symbol stands for. Making a key is straightforward and easy.

If you want to read more about setting up a bullet journal, check out our blog post, How to Start your Minimalist Bullet Journal in Under an Hour: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners.

Further Categorization ideas

If you want, you can add additional symbols to help categorize your tasks. We have many different facets to our life: if we could categorize each respectively, then it would make life a lot easier. 

Here are some ideas for categorization:

1. Medical 

This symbol can be used for doctor appointments, medicine, or anything related to health-related. 

2. Food 

bullet journal symbol ideas food

It could be related to grocery shopping, meal prepping, going out to eat, and more! 

3. School 

bullet journal symbol school

Schoolwork, projects, and anything related. 

4. Work

bullet journal symbol work

This symbol can indicate anything related to work, such as tasks, assignments, meetings, deadlines, and more.

5. Sleep

bullet journal symbol sleep

You can use this symbol for sleeping routine, sleeping time, etc.

6. House tasks

bullet journal symbol house chores

Use this to categorize your house chore tasks. This can include sweeping, doing laundry, cleaning, doing the dishes, organizing your home, and more.

7. Contact Information

bullet journal symbol contact info

If you want to note and differentiate contact info, you can create a symbol for contact information. This can be used for phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, and more.

8. Health/Fitness

bullet journal symbol fitness and health

You can devise a symbol for anything health/fitness related. Tasks that would use these symbols would be related to exercise, supplements, and anything related to fitness.

9. Self Care

bullet journal symbol self-care

Self-care is not the be neglected! To make your self-care tasks pop out more, you can use these symbols I drew up. Some examples of tasks that belong here are breaks, taking a walk, getting a massage, meditation, and more.

10. Family

bullet journal symbol family

Anything related to family, such as family outings, responsibilities, etc., can be used with this symbol.

11. Money/Budgeting 

bullet journal symbol money budgeting

This can be used with any related to money, budgeting, bills, taxes, and more.

12. Things you’re looking forward to

bullet journal symbol looking forward for

To keep me motivated throughout the week, I like to put in events and tasks I’m looking forward to. Seeing this and the symbol uplifts my mood and most importantly, boosts my motivation.

13. Birthdays

bullet journal symbol birthday

Using this symbol will guarantee that you won’t ever forget someone’s birthday!

14. Children

bullet journal symbol children

If you have children, you can create a symbol for each child and place it on any tasks related to them. 

15. Research

bullet journal symbol research

If you have something you want to research, you can create a symbol so you’ll remember and know at a glance.

16. Idea

bullet journal symbol idea

Similarly, if you have an idea, you can write it down and label it to differentiate it from your other tasks.

17. Book

bullet journal symbol book

If you stumble upon a book you want to read, you can use this symbol alongside the book title.

18. Movies/shows

bullet journal symbol movies

Similarly, if you stumble upon a movie or show you want to see, you can use these symbols.

19. Pets

bullet journal symbol pets

If you have a pet, you can create a symbol to help categorize your pet-related tasks. This can include taking your pet to the vet, feeding your pet, giving them baths, making appointments for them, talking them on a walk, and more.

20. Music

bullet journal symbol music

If there’s a song title you like and want to listen to again in the future, you can place a symbol next to it.

How you can incorporate color

While I gave you symbol ideas, you can also use colors to help categorize your tasks. The colors you use would also go in your key. 

I recommend not going too crazy on the colors. If you carry around a bullet journal and use it, you would have to carry around the 10 different colors you use. I would stick to 5 max. 

Here are some different ways you can incorporate color into your key:

Bullet Journal Key color

You can use different colored pens/pencils to help categorize different aspects of your life.

Bullet Journal Key Color

Alternatively, you can use a highlighter to help categorize your daily tasks.

Bullet Journal Key color

Or use a colored bullet!

As you can see, there are many different ways you can use color to your advantage. If you aren’t a fan of using drawn symbols, I highly suggest you try this method.

Printable Resource

If you want to have this sheet handy and on the go, click on the image above to download the sheet!


To end this off, you don’t have to use all of these symbols. I would advise against it. You should only choose the ones that are relevant to you and your life. For example, if you don’t have any children, then you don’t need a symbol for children. 

I find using symbols and signifiers extremely efficient. When opening my journal, I can glance at my daily log, see a task, and know exactly what I have to do and what it’s for.

What are your favorite bullet journal symbols? Leave a comment below! 

I hope you found this list useful. Feel free to save this post or any images in it. If you enjoyed it, please share it on Pinterest, Facebook, or twitter! 

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