An outliner is a text editor that organizes information in a hierarchy, allowing users to control the level of detail and to reorganize according to structure. Your notes can have full detail, yet be organized so a casual reader can get a quick overview. Outlining is a great way for teams to organize work.
Paul Ford, an early user of our software, said: "What Google Maps does for geography, outliners do for ideas." Map software lets you zoom in at any level of detail. Same with outliners.
In an outliner are two kinds of cursors, a bar cursor, which is black, and covers a whole headline, and a text cursor, which is a vertical line, also called a caret. The text cursor flashes slowly.
Each headline has a wedge, displayed to the left of the text, a small triangle that's either gray or black. If it's black that means there's unexpanded text below the headline.
There are two modes, structure mode and text mode. To go from text to structure mode, click once on a wedge. To go from structure to text mode, click on any character inside the headline.
To expand a headline, double-click on the black wedge. To collapse, double-click on the wedge of an expanded headline.
The headline the bar cursor points to is called the bar cursor headline. You'll see that term used in the docs below, because many commands apply to the bar cursor headline. In the screen shot at the top of this section, the bar cursor headline is the United States.
If you want to expand a headline, to see what's underneath, double-click on its wedge.
This only works if the wedge is black. If it's gray that means there's nothing underneath to expand. So you can see from a distance where there's hidden text.
To the right is a screen shot that shows the Midwest headline expanded. The Michigan headline has a black wedge, that means there are unexpanded items below it, entries for the cities of Flint, Detroit, Ann Arbor.
To collapse a level, double-click on the wedge next to its parent.
You can expand and collapse using the keyboard with Cmd-, (comma). If the bar cursor headline is expanded it is collapsed. If it's collapsed it expands.
Suppose we decide to reclassify Arizona as a Far West state (it's currently in the Southwest).
To move it using the mouse, first expand Southwest by double-clicking on its wedge. Then click on the wedge, and hold the mouse button down, and move the mouse pointer to the wedge in front of Far West, and while continuing to hold the button down, nudge the mouse to the right until the arrow points down and to the right. Let up the mouse. Far West expands and Arizona becomes the first item under Far West.
To move it using the keyboard, expand Southwest and click the wedge in front of Arizona. Press Cmd-L, then Cmd-U repeated until it's just below Far West. Then Cmd-R to move it under Far West.
The keystrokes for moving are Cmd-U for up, Cmd-D for down, Cmd-L for left, and Cmd-R for right.
Tab does the same thing as Cmd-R and Shift-tab is the same as Cmd-L.
Either method works as well as the other, it's just a matter of preference or what's convenient.
If you have a keyboard that distinguishes between Return and Enter (as the full Macintosh keyboard does), then the Return key will work as described above, and Enter toggles between text and structure mode.
If you decide that a category is no longer necessary and want to move all of the former sub-heads out to the same level as their parent, that's when you need to promote the subs. To do so, put the cursor on the parent and press Cmd-[ to promote the subs.
Suppose you have a list of items and want to move them all under a new parent. That's called demote and is a little more tricky.
Create the new parent headline at the same level as the soon-to-be subs, and just before them in their list. Then press Cmd-] to demote.
Earlier in this document we talked about wedges, as gray or black triangles. But you'll see other wedges from time to time. They usually indicate that there are attributes attached to the headline. Attributes themselves are usually not visible.
When you're moving headlines by dragging with the mouse, the wedges on the target headline will change to an arrow, to indicate where the headline being dragged will be deposited when you let up.
Sometimes your outline text will be published on web pages. You can enter HTML markup in your text, and it will correctly flow out to the OPML file.
A limited set of markup -- boldface text, italic text and links -- will be rendered if the outliner is in render mode.
When the outliner starts up, it is in this mode. If you want to see the markup and possibly edit it, you can go into non-render mode by pressing Cmd-` and return to render mode by pressing it again. It's a toggle.
In programming languages and some content management systems, you can "comment out" text, so that it isn't processed. This allows you to leave notes to yourself that don't get passed along, but are saved in the OPML file. The comments will still be there next time you open the file.
To comment a branch of the outline, press Cmd-\. To uncomment, repeat the keystroke.
When you comment an item, its wedge changes to a chevron, as well as the wedge next to all the items below it.