Project Notes#

novelWriter doesn’t have a database and complicated forms for filling in details about plot elements, characters, and all sorts of additional information that isn’t a part of the novel text itself. Instead, all such information is saved in notes that are written and maintained just like all other text in your project.

The relation between all these additional elements is extracted from the documents and notes by the project indexer, based on the tags and references you set within them.

Using notes is not required, but making at least minimal notes for each plot element, and adding a tag to them, makes it possible to use the Outline View to see how each element intersects with each section of the novel itself, and adds clickable cross-references between documents in the editor and viewer.

Tags in Notes#

Each new heading in a note can have a tag associated with it. The format of a tag is @tag: tagname, where tagname is a unique identifier of your choosing. Tags can then be referenced in the novel documents, or cross-referenced in other notes, and will show up in the Outline View and in the back-reference panel when a document is opened in the viewer. See Note References for how to reference notes.

The syntax highlighter will alert the user that the keyword is correctly used and that the tag is allowed, that is, the tag is unique. Duplicate tags should be detected as long as the index is up to date. An invalid tag should have a green wiggly line under it, and will not receive the syntax colour that valid tags do.

The tag is the only part of these notes that the application uses. The rest of the document content is there for the writer to use in whatever way they wish. Of course, the content of the documents can be added to the manuscript, or an outline document. If you want to compile a single document of all your notes, you can do this from the Build Novel Project tool.

One note can also reference another note in the same way novel documents do. When the note is opened in the view panel, the references become clickable links, making it easier to follow connections in the plot. Notes don’t show up in the Outline View though, so referencing between notes is only meaningful if you want to be able to click-navigate between them, or of course if you just want to highlight that two notes are related.


If you cross-reference between notes and export your project as an HTML document using the Build Novel Project tool, the cross-references become clickable links in the exported HTML document.

Example of a project note with two headers, with separate tags, and with references to other notes:

 1# Main Characters
 3## Jane Doe
 5@tag: Jane
 6@location: Earth
 8Something about Jane ...
10## John Doh
12@tag: John
13@location: Mars
15Something about John ...