Outlining tools let you gather your ideas in one place and connect them in an orderly manner. Here are some of the best apps for this use!
No matter how many ideas you have, they won't be of any use unless you outline them. Traditional outlining methods are outdated, as today’s complex concepts need modern outlining techniques.
Therefore, using an outlining app is a great way to visually represent the connection between the ideas. If your work requires you to brainstorm in your personal and professional life, the following outlining tools will come in handy.
Checkvist is one of the most popular yet simplistic outlining apps you can use. This free web-based software comes with keyboard-first navigation so that you can spare yourself from clicking on the mouse. In fact, you can perform the drag and drop function using keys.
Whether it’s ordering the points or managing the outline, this tool offers you a seamless dashboard and functionalities. It also has features like coloring a node or tag for quick reference, automatically ordering the sub-items of the node, etc.
You can also enjoy collaboration features in this app like private and public sharing, word and progress counters, attachment files, due dates, etc. It also has focus and dark modes you can use for customization.
Scrivener is a paid outlining tool that’s compatible with Windows, macOS, and iOS. Popular among book writers, academics, and content writers, it’s also a complete writing suite where you can outline, research, write documents.
Thanks to its features like full-screen outlining and a side-by-side preview of the outlines, outlining becomes easy with this app. You can also organize the outline items by the drag and drop feature.
With folders and subfolders, you can arrange your ideas for writing a draft. You can also choose from the customizable templates for outlining your fiction or non-fiction writings. It also offers facilities for direct printing and exporting its data into popular text formats like RTF, DOCX, and PDF.
Yes, you can use Microsoft OneNote even to create an outline. If you don’t follow the traditional linear format, this is the app where you get the freedom to add notes, quotes, or images anywhere on the page. You can also rearrange things to sort the ideas in the right way to get things done.
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It comes with an icon bank from where you can use icons for visual clues. Customization of fonts, text size, text color, bullet points, and lists are also available in this tool.
This free visual outlining app is available for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Web. Its real-time sync facility stores changes to the Microsoft cloud storage OneDrive. Hence, you can access it from anywhere, 24/7.
Smartsheet lets you outline a write-up, speech, presentation, or project by organizing information and creating a visual hierarchy. By indenting any row, you can make its child row. Since you can create unlimited child rows, your ideas will never go out of space.
The good thing is, you can easily collapse any parent row to hide the long hierarchy of child rows in this paid app. Thus, you can make the parent row visible when you need to focus on some other important point.
Related: The Best Features of Smartsheet You Can Use for Project Management
It also allows you to comment on any item added to a row, ideal for collaborative tasks with your colleagues. Thus, you can save the outline from being clogged and keep the comments hidden in a speech bubble. Its customizable sharing option allows you to assign different editing permissions to each recipient.
UV Outliner is a Windows-based app for outlining that offers free-of-cost services to you. Besides, this powerful tool is ideal for making organized to-do lists, structured ideas, planning trips, scheduling meetings, brainstorming projects, and tracking expenses.
Its minimalistic layout offers the perfectly focused interface you need to create an outline of your next big project. To promote unitasking, this app comes with two modes. One mode lets you add text, and another one is for organizing them in the right places. You can also move a section of your outline into a separate window for better focus.
Workflowy is robust outlining software that helps you organize ideas for all kinds of projects, including side-hustles. You can access this tool from the web browser, or you may download its apps for Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, and Windows.
It comes with a distraction-free interface where you can sort your ideas in a hierarchical data structure. Using its flexible list, you can manage the project management problems that emerge daily. The multifactor authentication of this app will protect your valuable data from any unauthorized person.
Use it for collaborating with your team by seamlessly sharing the outline. Customize its interface with various themes and fonts. You can also use filters, highlights, and colored tags to find out any information quickly.
Do you prefer using an open-source app for outlining your ideas? Use WikidPad, a Wiki-like note-taking app where you can write down your thoughts, contacts, to-do lists, contacts, or whatever you want.
Cross-link the information by creating WikiWord—a word with mixed case. The tool lets you view WikiWord history and auto-complete WikiWords. Features like autosaving, search and replace, incremental search, etc., make it an efficient tool for outlining.
Choose from 100+ icons to turn your outline into an attractive visual. It stores all the data in plain text that you can export in HTML format. You can also add URLs and attachment files for further references.
If you’re looking for a distraction-free outlining app you can use for personal and business purposes, Dynalist is here for you. This tool is specifically useful for focused work sessions with logical thinkers.
The top feature of this app is Markdown formatting. It allows you to add labels and tags of various colors to your items for easy visualization. You can also use internal cross-linking to connect relevant items. After adding lists, you can seamlessly sort them.
It offers you a range of themes and fonts for customization. Whether you want to find a file or an item, its high-end search feature lets you locate that. Above all, it supports integration with Google Calendar.
You can connect the scattered thoughts, and turn them into an understandable or implementable concept in an outlining app. You can use any of the above-mentioned outlining apps to create a functional and accessible outline for your projects.
Your workflow becomes clearer and enjoyable when you can create a mindmap from your outlined ideas.
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Tamal is a freelance writer at MakeUseOf. After gaining substantial experience in technology, finance, and business processes in his previous job in an IT consulting company, he adopted writing as a full-time profession 3 years ago. While not writing about productivity and the latest tech news, he loves to play Splinter Cell and binge-watch Netflix/ Prime Video.
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