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Kudos for WritingOutliner Word Add-in

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Posted by dan7000
Mar 4, 2011 at 08:58 PM


In a previous thread, I mentioned that I tried the WritingOutliner Word Add-in but could not get it to work: http://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics/viewt/2364.

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded an updated version of the add-in, and it has been working great.  I purchased the full version and have used it for 2 writing projects in the past week, and I am hugely impressed.  I will definitely make lots of use of this for writing projects going forward.  Here are the key things that I like about it:

- It doesn’t force any particular workflow: it’s basically a way to organize a bunch of short word documents into outlines, keeping all your research, snippets of drafting, and final drafts in one place.
- You can export one branch of an outline into a word document, and the outline titles become word headings, preserving indentation level and using Word’s heading styles.  The text of each outline item becomes body text.
- The search function is fantastic.  The search result appears in the outline pane, and it shows the context of each search hit (like google) but also preserves the outline structure, so you can easily notice what branch your search hits appear in.
- There is a tabbed interface so you can open documents or outlines in multiple tabs in the right pane, which is nice for quick copying and pasting.

A few downsides:
- no way to copy outline items or branches.  I need this so that I can save an old version of a branch before I make changes.
- still some stability problems.  save your work if you use this one, because Word will be crashing (on the upside, it has its own auto-save which seems to be more reliable than Word’s).

For those who have compared WritingOutliner to Scrivener—in the Windows world, there is absolutely no comparison.  Scrivener Windows is not usable for professional writing, since it does not support anything more than very basic text formatting and has no paragraph styles.  Also, the compile function in Scrivener does not export Word-compatible headings or paragraph styles, so there is no way to turn a document from Scrivener into a properly-formatted Word doc without completely re-formatting every paragraph one at a time.  (For those who prefer some other word processor, the same thing would be true: you cannot go from Scrivener to finished product without a ton of reformatting.)