What to Read First#

The documentation of novelWriter is quite extensive. There are a lot of features to get used to, but you don’t need all of them to get started.

The chapters below labelled “Essential Information” are the ones you need to know to use the application correctly. By “correctly”, it is meant: in a way so novelWriter understands the basic structure of your text. It collects a lot of information from your text and uses it to display the structure of it in various ways to help you get an overview of your writing.

The chapters labelled “Recommended Reading” includes additional information on how the different parts if the application work and what the features do.

The “Optional” and “Lookup” chapters contain additional information or lookup tables that are not essential for using the application.

Using novelWriter#

In order to use novelWriter effectively, you need to know the basics of how it works. The following chapters will explain the main principles. It starts with the basics, and gets more detailed as you read on.

How it Works – Essential Information

This chapter explains the basics of how the application works and what it can and cannot do.

Project Views – Recommended Reading

This chapter will give you a more detailed explanation of how you can use the user interface components to organise and view your project work.

The Editor and Viewer – Recommended Reading

This chapter will give you a more detailed explanation of how the text editor and viewer work.

Formatting Your Text – Essential Information

This chapter covers how you should format your text. The editor is plain text, so text formatting requires some basic markup. The structure of your novel is also inferred from how you use headings. Tags and references are implemented by special keywords.

Keyboard Shortcuts – Optional / Lookup

This chapter lists all the keyboard shortcuts in novelWriter and what they do. Most of the shortcuts are also listed next to their menu entries inside the app, or in tool tips. This chapter is mostly for reference.

Typographical Notes – Optional

This chapter gives you an overview of the special typographical symbols available in novelWriter. The auto-replace feature can handle the insertion of standard quote symbols for your language, and other special characters. If you use any symbols aside from these, their intended use is explained here.

Organising Your Projects#

In addition to managing a collection of plain text files, novelWriter can interpret and map the structure of your novel and show you additional information about its flow and content. In order to take advantage of these features, you must structure your text in a specific way and add some meta data for it to extract.

Managing Projects – Essential Information

This chapter explains how you organise the content of your project, and how to set up automated backups of your work.

Novel Structure – Essential Information

This chapter covers the way your novel’s structure is encoded into the text documents. It explains how the different levels of headings are used, and some special formatting for different kinds of headings.

Tags and References - Recommended Reading

This chapter explains how you organise your notes, and how the Tags and References system works. This system lets you cross-link your documents in your project, and display these references in the application interface.

Building the Manuscript - Recommended Reading

This chapter explains how the Manuscript Build tool works, how you can control the way chapter titles are formatted, and how scene and section breaks are handled.

Additional Details & Technical Topics#

The Additional Details and the Technical Topics sections contain more in-depth information about how various bits of novelWriter works. This information is not essential to getting started using novelWriter.