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Outliner for granular writing?

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Posted by Lucas
Apr 4, 2020 at 04:38 AM


There are many possible approaches, of course, but off the top of my mind, I would recommend three programs that have the advantage of allowing you to work in hierarchical mode and paragraph mode simultaneously:

1. Microsoft Word Outline View (Mac or Windows). You can go back and forth between Outline View (hierarchical) and any of the normal views.

2. Scrivener (Mac or Windows): You could create your outline hierarchy as headings in the left-hand panel, and then start fleshing out the paragraphs in the main (right-hand) panel. (Scrivener is one of the only programs that functions as a two-pane outliner but presents the entire, concatenated text in the right-hand pane.)

3. Sense Editor from Silva Elm (Windows). This program hasn’t been updated in a few years, but it has some unique affordances. If you install the free OPML plugin, you can create a hierarchical structure and work in regular document mode simultaneously, somewhat akin to the way Scrivener works.

Alternatively, if you’re on a Mac and have Tinderbox, there are many export options to help you transform an outline into regular text.

(And of course there are a variety of program combinations that could allow you to go from outline to OPML to regular text, but my memory isn’t so clear on that score.)