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NoodleTools How-to Guide: Create & Use an Outline

Tutorials that show you how to create a personal ID, work with projects, create citations, and do other tasks in NoodleTools

How to Create an Outline


An outline is a good way to start thinking about the structure of your paper or project. Dragging notecards into the outline allows you to start thinking about where your facts and evidence will be used.

Step 1.

By default, the outline is hidden in both the Tabletop View and Detail View. To display the outline, check the box next to "Outline" in the upper-right corner.

How to create an outline, Figure 1

Step 2.

When you first open the outline panel, a sample topic and subtopic are already in place.

How to create an outline, figure 2

Double-click on the ones titled "Topic" and "Subtopic" and rename them to what you want. You can also right-click (or on an iPad, long-press) on a topic and select "Edit" from the menu, or single-click to highlight a topic and click the "Edit" icon in the outline's toolbar.

Step 3:

To generate the outline you want, you'll need to add, delete, and move items.

Add subtopics under an existing topic:
Right-click (or long-press on an iPad) on a topic and select "Add subtopic (child)." A new subtopic is added under the selected topic, and you can then title it.

Add topics under an existing topic (at the same outline level): Right-click (or long-press on an iPad) on a topic and select "Add subtopic (child)." A new subtopic is added under the selected topic, and you can then title it.

Move a section of the outline:
Any topic (along with its subtopics) can be dragged to another location in the outline. You can also single-click on a topic and then use the arrows in the editor to move it.

Using a combination of drag/drop and the arrow buttons is useful. For example, you can drag and drop one topic onto another topic to make the first a subtopic of the second. Then you can select the topic and move it with the up and down arrows, to order it relative to the other subtopics there if required. (Click image below to watch animation.)

How to create an outline animation thumbnail

Delete a topic: Right-click (or long-press) on a topic and choose "Delete." NOTE: Deleting a topic in your outline will delete all the subtopics under that topic, so please consider this step carefully!

Step 4:

Once you have defined the structure of your outline, you can link notecards to the various outline topics you've created. See:  "How to Add Notecards to the Outline."

Step 5:

When you are ready to write, it is useful to have your notecards exported and open in a word processor so that you can refer to them efficiently. If you've linked them to your outline (Step 4), you can now export the notecards in the order you'll be needing them, as defined by your outline. See: "How to Export and Print the Outline."

How to Add Notecards to the Outline


Notecards can be linked to topics in your outline. When you are ready to start writing, you can export the outline with the content of your notecards included, to prepare for writing.


You may drag notecards into the outline from either the Tabletop View or Detail View.

  • An advantage of using the Detail View is that you are able to view the full content of the notecards as you choose the ones you move.
  • A reason to use the Tabletop View is that you can move an entire notecard pile into an outline topic. Dragging a notecard pile into the outline will add all of the notecards within that pile.

In the Tabletop View, drag-and-drop a notecard from the tabletop onto a topic in your outline. (Click image below to watch animation.)

How to add notecards to the outline, Figure 1

In the Detail View, notecards can be moved by their drag handle (three lines in the upper-right corner, when viewing the content of a notecard). (Click image below to watch animation.)

How to add notecards to the outline, Figure 2

Moving a notecard into your outline does not remove it from the Tabletop View or Detail View; it only associates the notecard with the topic in the outline. A notecard can be added to outline more than once, if it applies to multiple topics. Notecards placed in the outline are represented by a notecard icon.

How to add notecards to the outline, Figure 3

On the Tabletop View, notecards that are linked to at least one outline topic are marked with a checkmark in the upper left corner.

How to add notecards to the outline, Figure 4

To remove a notecard from the outline, drag it out of the outline back onto the tabletop area.

To edit a notecard in the outline, double-click it to open the "Edit notecard" window.

How to Export and Print the Outline


You can print just your outline alone, or you can print the content of your notecards in the order you've placed them within the outline.

Step 1.

Navigate to the Notecard Tabletop View.

Step 2.

Click the blue Export/Print icon button at the top of the screen. Select "Outline only" from the menu to export just the outline structure, or "Outline with notecards" to export the outline with the linked notecard content included.

How to export and print the outline

Step 3.

Select an file format option from the menu:

Export as Web Page (HTML file) Opens a new browser tab with your outline's content.
Export to Google Docs Creates a Google Document in your Google Drive. You may be prompted to select your Google account. 
Export to Word (DOCX file) Creates a Word (.docx) document that you can download and open in Word Online, Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.
Export to RTF Creates a plain-text file of your outline's content, without images. The .rtf file can be downloaded and opened with any word processor. 

Important note: If selecting an option above does not generate the file, be sure that your browser does not have a pop-up blocker enabled that would prevent a new window from opening.

Step 4:

Click Submit to create the new file. To print, open the resulting file in the applicable word processor and use the application's Print command.

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