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4 Handy Outlining Apps for Writers

If you’re a writer, you know the importance of planning and outlining. Taking the time to organize and explore your ideas helps you stay on track and get the most out of your writing. Nowadays, if you’re not using an outlining app, you’re missing out. These online tools make outlining fast, easy, and fun, with useful features that simply can’t be replicated by using pen and paper or a whiteboard. Next time you need to make an outline, check out these apps:

Handy Outlining Apps for Writers

1. Gingko

This web-based software has a simple and versatile design to let you create outlines in a new way. Think of it like a virtual sticky note board; Gingko lets you add notecards both horizontally and vertically. Add as much content as you want to each note, including titles, hyperlinks, and images. Then you can add a related card to the right and put additional information, or begin a new card with a new topic below. You can easily move your notecards and add notecards where you want them to rearrange your outline as you go.

Gingko has a free version and a paid version. With the free version, you can create 10 ‘trees’ of notecards and/or 100 cards each month. With the paid version, you choose a monthly price that works for you (with a minimum of $2) and create as many outlines as you want.

2. Braincat

Braincat is a new unique software for mind mapping and brainstorming. What makes Braincat unique is that it is not only a software, but it is a thought process. By using Braincat, you’ll be trained to think in a new way, that over time, can help you become better at processing large piles of information.

Rather than starting from the big picture, Braincat starts with the details. You begin by inputting all of your thoughts and ideas into the software in any order. Just like brainstorming, there are no wrong answers. This helps you clear your mind, and you can also answer Braincat’s guiding questions to consider new perspectives. There are a variety of question sets for different types of projects, including a set specifically for writers. After all of your information is inputted, you will take a look at each item and create categories or ‘buckets’ to group these items together. This lets you structure the main parts of your writing piece based on the content itself. Then, you choose the order of these buckets, based on how you think they should fit together. Finally, Braincat shows you your outline in many different formats, including a standard outline and a mind map. Easily export your outline to use with another software or to share with colleagues.

Jon Ward, a writer and editor, created Braincat for himself, to help him handle large inflows of information from clients. He then realized that it can help others, and many writers report that the app helps them create more detailed, enriching, and efficient outlines. You can try Braincat for $1 and see how it changes your outlining process.

3. Checkvist

Checkvist is a web-based outlining tool that offers the basics in a friendly interface. This tool helps you build outlines quickly and efficiently with a minimalist design. It doesn’t have many fancy features that other outlining tools offer, so if you prefer something simple, this is the tool for you. Checkvist lets you easily rearrange and edit your outline with keyboard shortcuts for all major functions, so you can get to what matters most – the writing.

4. XMind

This open-source software is designed for building mind maps from scratch. You begin by writing the main topic at the center of the page and adding subtopics branching outwards, connecting your bubbles as you go. XMind offers a user-friendly interface and different design options to make it easy to create a simple and pretty mind map. There are other useful features such as compatibility with Office and Evernote, password security, audio notes, and advanced search.

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