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15 Outliners To Elevate Your Workflow In 2024

Abhishek Agrawal
By Abhishek A Agrawal
April 6, 2024
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    Whether you’re working on a story, film, event, or managing a big project with a team of people, you need to be organized – that’s where outline tools can help. Of course, the writing process isn’t linear, and outline tools can help you stay on track as you jot down all your ideas. But these tools can help you elevate your basic outline into something workable.

    We’ve done a deep dive into some of the most popular outline tools and listed their specs and features to make things easier for you. Read on to find your perfect fit!

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    What Does An Outliner Software Do?

    Outliner software helps planners, creatives, and even students break down large tasks into smaller ones. These software empower users to identify their goals and all the smaller steps needed to achieve them. Some outlining tools can be straightforward and resemble a word processor, while others might have extra features designed for specific types of work.

    What Makes An Outlining Tool Great?

    There are plenty of options when looking online for an outliner tool, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be effective. Here are some of the things we look out for when evaluating outlining software:

    • Easy adjustments: People change their minds as ideas grow, so it’s essential that your outline can accommodate adjustments easily.
    • Visual hierarchy: The point of an outline is to break bigger ideas into smaller ones, and a clear visual hierarchy enables this kind of detail-oriented thinking.
    • Ample storage: If your chosen software limits the number of “lines” or items beneath a bullet point, you might miss out on something vital. Choose a tool that can accommodate all your ideas without stunting you.
    • Backups and accessibility: If an outliner tool doesn’t back your data up, you’re at risk of losing your work. Likewise, you’ll want something that can be accessed on any device.

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    Our Top Picks For The Best Outlining Software For 2024

    Toodledo

    Toodledoo keeps things simple with its minimal interface and intuitive input commands. For example, adding a new item to your outline structure is as simple as pressing “Enter”, while pressing “Tab” indents content into your to-do lists. This outline software can also be used with Integrately.

    Pros

    • Simple and intuitive commands
    • Distraction-free interface

    Cons

    • Lacks any notable features

    Pricing

    Basic Toodledo is free to use, while the Silver plan costs $14.99/year.

    Microsoft OneNote

    Most organizational tools generally have users funnel their ideas into hierarchical lists, but sometimes you just need something a little more flexible. Microsoft OneNote is decked out with bonus features meant for creators and content writers, such as its ability to shoehorn notes into any part of your outline.

    Pros

    • Users can add visual clues or reminders to outlines
    • Has a customizable sharing option for teams

    Cons

    • Doesn’t integrate well with Microsoft’s other apps

    Pricing

    Microsoft OneNote is free to use.

    Workflowy

    Most brainstorming tools have the entire outline in view at all times, which can be great if all you need is a basic overview. However, more involved projects need a little more attention to detail. Workflowy has a special “zoom” feature, which focuses on a single bullet point and makes it the only content visible on your screen.

    Pros

    • Has internal #tags for quick searching
    • Zoom feature is designed for focused work sessions

    Cons

    • Free version is pretty limited

    Pricing

    Workflowy is free to use but costs $4.99/month for unlimited lists.

    Checkvist

    Checkvist is one of the most no-frills organizational tools available today, but that also means it lacks a few notable features like drop-down menus and internal notes. Regardless, it’s a great choice if all you need is a hierarchical list. Plus, you can connect it to Integrately.

    Pros

    • Straightforward interface
    • Shortcuts and commands are always visible

    Cons

    • Free version lacks backup options

    Pricing

    Checkvist has a free basic plan and costs $3.90/month per user for the Pro plan.

    Little Outliner

    If you aren’t looking for a complete writing suite, Little Outliner might be the tool for you. It’s a browser-based planning tool, which means it’s lightweight and can run on almost any device. Don’t be fooled, though – it’s a powerhouse that keeps your work secure on your machine.

    Pros

    • No download necessary
    • Barely any learning curve for commands

    Cons

    • Can only store one outline at a time

    Pricing

    Little Outliner is free to use.

    OmniOutliner

    Whether you’re into project management or just very particular about your outline’s look and feel, OmniOutliner has all the customization options you’ll ever need. From the font to the space between each line, you have complete control.

    Pros

    • Unparalleled customization options
    • Can export to Microsoft Word without losing formatting

    Cons

    • Apple-exclusive

    Pricing

    OmniOutliner costs $29.99 for iOS, $49.99 for Mac (Standard), and $99.99 for Mac (Pro).

    Smartsheet

    As the name suggests, Smartsheet is basically a spreadsheet with outline-oriented features. It can organize your ideas into “parent” headers and allows you to input unlimited “child” lines under it. You can even collapse the parent headers, so it’s the only content visible. With Integrately, you can also automate millions of actions.

    Pros

    • Easy to organize and reconfigure
    • Templates are excellent for content creation

    Cons

    • Basic plan has limited storage

    Pricing

    Smartsheet starts at $7/month per user.

    WhizFolders

    WhizFolders may not have the prettiest user interface, but its split-screen design makes it an effective tool for building a hierarchy of ideas for your project. Its quick log feature will quickly become an important part of your productivity arsenal if you do lots of internet-based research.

    Pros

    • Split-screen organization for quick overviews
    • Automatically includes link and source for pasted content

    Cons

    • Interface feels very dated

    Pricing

    WhizFolders costs $35.

    Cloud Outliner

    Apple users have a rich selection of outlining software available, and Cloud Outliner is one of the cleanest. In addition, everything is optimized for touch controls, making it a seamless addition to your existing workflow.

    Pros

    • Drag-and-drop outliner
    • Intuitive gesture controls

    Cons

    • Only available on Mac devices

    Pricing

    Cloud outliner costs $1.99 for the iOS app and $6.99 for Mac.

    OutlineEdit

    If you’re doing lots of research, OutlineEdit will be your best friend. The Safari extension can lift highlighted text and automatically send it to your outline – saving lots of time in the process.

    Pros

    • Can “float” your outline above all other windows
    • Saves your highlight history

    Cons

    • Lackluster user interface

    Pricing

    OutlineEdit costs $4.99.

    CarbonFin

    CarbonFin understands the value of clean outlines, and that’s why it lets you push additional notes off into a separate tab. This means you can keep more detailed summaries without getting overwhelmed.

    Pros

    • Ability to toggle note preview
    • Can zoom into one item at a time

    Cons

    • Mostly optimized for iOS

    Pricing

    CarbonFin is $4.99 to purchase.

    FoldingText

    If you’re most comfortable with Markdown-style formatting, then FoldingText will make sure you feel right at home as you write out an outline. This makes it a powerful, albeit somewhat difficult to learn, option for people who need to get organized.

    Pros

    • Unmatched convenience if you understand Markdown
    • Clutter-free interface

    Cons

    • May be confusing to new users

    Pricing

    You can purchase FoldingText for $29.99.

    UV Outliner

    UV Outliner can keep you in check if you feel off-balance and out of focus while multitasking. It has two modes: one for writing and the other for reordering items. That means you’ll have to focus on one task at a time – no excuses.

    Pros

    • Two editing modes for focused work
    • Chunks of data can be moved into other windows

    Cons

    • May feel clunky for people with more fluid work styles

    Pricing

    UV Outliner is free to use.

    Scrivener

    Scrivener is the novelist’s bread and butter, and that’s because of its capability to reorder, rework, and combine several files into one larger outline. Its tags, summaries, and character profiles can also help you flesh out whatever prose you’re writing.

    Pros

    • Fiction-oriented organization scheme
    • Can easily separate and combine files

    Cons

    • May be too specialized for general use

    Pricing

    Scrivener costs $45.

    Mellel

    Mellel calls itself “the word processor for professional writers”, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer everyone else. It is incredibly customizable, and users can assign specific styles per heading level. Users can also zoom out and see their work in outline format.

    Pros

    • Lots of font and color customizations
    • Has focused Outline and Writing edit modes 

    Cons

    • Is more of a word processor than an outlining software

    Pricing

    Mellel costs $19.90 on iOS and $38.99 on Mac.

    What’s The Best Outlining Software For You?

    Behind every great project is an immaculate outline, and the software you use to write it can make a huge difference. However, hashing out your ideas can be a messy and time-consuming business. Even with the best software, you’ll want to do things right – check out Integrately to automate all the repetitive and error-prone tasks you don’t want to do!

    RELATED: Top 5 Best Note-Taking Apps For Mac In 2024

    FAQs about Outlining Software

    What should I look for in an outlining app?

    You should look for an outlining app with a clear visual hierarchy, ample storage for your outlines, backup capabilities, and an intuitive interface.

    How do I create an outline?

    Creating an outline is incredibly easy when using specialized software. But without it, here’s one way to break down your ideas:

    1. Write your thesis statement at the beginning. This encompasses your main point or argument.
    2. List the major points that support your thesis under this. Be sure to pick a clear bullet format to keep things neat.
    3. Under each major point, detail a few key ideas that support it.
    4. Keep doing this until you’ve fleshed out your idea.

    What is the best outlining software for writers?

    The best outlining software for writers is Scrivener. However, almost any of the software we’ve chosen for this list works for writing in general.

    Abhishek Agrawal
    Author - Abhishek A Agrawal
    Abhishek is the founder of Integrately, CompanyHub, and Dreamwares. He is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. He is always looking to leverage technology for the growth of the business. He has a deep understanding of how businesses work and uses this knowledge to build products that help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
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