Part 1: Outline Your Content

Start your work off with brainstorming what you want to write about, creating a content structure that's logical and flows well.

WE BUILT WRITEMAPPER to help you be more productive at writing work, making it easier to reach deadlines and complete writing tasks. Essentially, the app helps break your writing process down into three steps:

  1. Outline
  2. Write little bits of stuff
  3. Get done!

This approach helps one quickly and reliably produce structured, logical and coherent writing, each time. It's been said that technology has the potential to help people get stuff done with less fuss and more ease, and we hope our creation of this app has been able to be a small part of the argument in support of this statement.

If you're just getting started with WriteMapper or if this document seems to be a bit too detailed for you, get the fully-featured trial and check out the tutorial WriteMap from within the WriteMapper app itself and follow along to get the hang of things.

TIP: The features detailed in this User Guide are meant to apply to the latest versions of the app across all platforms (macOS, Windows and iPad), and if further information about a particular platform is directly mentioned in writing, then that takes precedence instead.

Since this is a pretty lengthy document, we also made an interactive Content Outline section that indicates where you are on this page to help you better navigate its contents.

Otherwise, let's take a look at the features and functions that we designed and built for WriteMapper to make it a great tool for capturing your thoughts and turning that into a coherent content outline for your writing.


1.1 Brainstorm-ready

How many times have you faced a blank document, trying to figure out how to begin at all? Or find yourself stuck on a particular segment of your work you just can't seem to go beyond?

WriteMapper helps you generate ideas for your writing, by turning this problem into the visual exercise of brainstorming ideas using a mind map, which is also a great way to overcome writer's block.

This is has an even greater helping effect for people who are more visually stimulated, allowing them to conjure up an endless stream of thoughts, ideas, and scenarios.

WriteMapper Brainstorm-ready

1.1.1 Uses Mind Maps

A mind map is simply a more visual form of an outline, which you can use to structure your writing. WriteMapper elevates the concept of mind mapping to the next level, allowing you to fill in with your thoughts and ideas and use it for creating writing content — and also why we call it a WriteMap!

1.1.2 Keyboard Shortcuts

Get a brainstorming productivity boost from using keyboard shortcuts, allowing you to be trigger-happy and fire away editing and creating nodes. See the section 1.5 Keyboard Shortcuts below for more details, or this support article for a full list of keyboard shortcuts available in WriteMapper.

1.1.3 Quick Add Siblings

Record the next point that pops up in your mind as quickly as you can think it up by quick-adding a node using the Enter keyboard shortcut, allowing you to keep a good idea generation flow going. The quick-add sibling node option is also available from the right-click or long-press menu of each node.

1.1.4 Quick Edit Nodes

You can also directly edit any node's title from the WriteMap view by using the Shift+Enter shortcut, without opening the editor. Another way to do this on desktop versions of WriteMapper is to hold hold the Shift key, and click on the node you wish to edit.

1.1.5 Duplicate Nodes

Making a carbon copy of an existing node and its children allows you use your existing ideas as a starting point and reimagine and refine them. This is again available from the right-click or long-press menu of each node, as well as the keyboard shortcut Cmd+D on macOS and iPad, and Ctrl+D on Windows.

1.1.6 Action History

Each action of yours in creating, editing and deleting nodes is recorded into an action history, which allows you to undo and redo without limits. The usual Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z keyboard shortcuts will work to perform undos here, and Cmd+Shift+Z or Ctrl+Shift+Z to redo; on macOS and Windows respectively.

TIP: On the iPad, you can also use the two-finger tap and three-finger tap gestures anywhere in the app to perform an Undo and Redo respectively.

1.1.7 Switch Layouts

Toggle between having the mind map branch out to both left and right like you would have in a traditional mind map, or focus on its hierarchical flow by having all child nodes gathered on one side. On desktop versions, you can toggle this by going to View > Toggle Map Layout in the menu bar, or right-clicking the background and selecting said option. On the iPad, tap the more toolbar button () while a WriteMap file is open, and select Toggle Map Layout.

1.1.8 Pointer Support

The nodes in the WriteMap view have are also compatible with styluses like Microsoft's Surface Pen, the Apple Pencil for the iPad, or even just touchscreens, on supported computers and devices.

1.1.9 Quick Edit Node

Jump in and out of each node's contents with ease with Quick Edit Node, which will only take up a small part of the screen space when open, leaving the WriteMap view still almost fully viewable so you don't lose contextual awareness. This allows you to edit a node's contents without viewing the full editor which normally takes up the the entire screen. Trigger Quick Edit Node from the right-click or long-press menu of each node, as well as the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Cmd+E on macOS and iPad, and Ctrl+Alt+E on Windows.


1.2 Visually Comprehensive

For easy visual comprehension of the data on your WriteMap, we've made it a point to include several functions that will improve the ease of manipulating and editing your mind map, so that you can get a bird's-eye view of your writing structure from the visual nature of mind maps.

For instance, you can zoom in and out on the WriteMap to get a more complete picture of how your idea is shaping up, at any given moment.

Nodes that have children nodes attached to them also can be collapsed (and subsequently expanded) to be hidden away for the time being, while you focus on other portions of your work.

The info on the left and right side of a node normally only shows up when you hover over it or select it, but for comprehensive visual reference, you can also simultaneously view the info of all nodes by hitting the tilde ~ key on your keyboard, while in the WriteMap view.

WriteMapper Visually Comprehensive

1.2.1 Pan or Drag

To scroll a WriteMap that's larger than the app's window, you can simply drag the background around to look around the mind map. On desktop versions, you can also scroll with the scroll gesture on your trackpad or use the mouse wheel.

1.2.2 Arrow Keys To Traverse

Besides selecting nodes with your finger or mouse cursor, you can also indicate your selection by using the arrow keys on the keyboard, which will traverse the selected node across the mind map accordingly. If no nodes are currently selected, then the root (starting) node will be selected.

1.2.3 Zoom In/Out

If you'd like to resize the mind map to see everything at once, or reset zoom levels, you can use the zoom function found in the toolbar, or its keyboard shortcuts of Cmd+Plus/Minus on macOS and Ctrl+Plus/Minus on Windows. On the iPad, the zoom function can also be triggered by a two-finger pinching or expanding gesture. Selecting Reset Zoom from the toolbar menu or using the Ctrl/Cmd+0 keyboard shortcut will reset the zoom level to its original setting.

1.2.4 Collapse & Expand

To hide a node's children from sight, click or tap the white round buttons on the right edge of each node, or use the backslash \ keyboard shortcut. This is also accessible from the right-click and long-press menus of any node which has one or more child nodes.

1.2.5 Collapse Other Nodes

If you want only one node's contents visible, you can collapse everything else by right-clicking or long-pressing a node then selecting "Collapse Other Nodes". On desktop versions, you can also trigger this by selecting that node, and then hitting Cmd+\.

1.2.6 View Node Info

Basic information about a node is displayed on its left and right when you hover your mouse cursor over it, select it, and also in its content editor view (in the top-right of the screen). The default info displayed on the left of the node is the node's hierarchy level, and on the right is the node's position relative to the number of sibling nodes it has.

1.2.7 Toggle Node Info

You can switch between displaying positional info and wordcount info of each node, shown on the right-hand side of nodes in the WriteMap. Similar to how you would toggle the map layout, you can do this on desktop versions by going to View > Toggle Node Info in the menu bar, or right-clicking the background and selecting said option. On the iPad, tap the more toolbar button () while a WriteMap file is open, and select Toggle Node Info.

1.2.8 View All Info

A convenience keyboard shortcut to help you to take stock of your work; you can use the tilde ~ key to display the info of all nodes of the WriteMap at once.

1.2.9 Toggle Map Layout

Depending on how you want to view the contents of your mind map, you can switch between having its branches on both sides, or to only one side. You can also set the default mind map layout from the app's Preferences to use when creating new files (centered or cascading), which will be saved and used for all your future work.

1.2.10 Go Full Screen

Utilize all of your display's real estate in displaying all of your nodes on the mind map by going full screen in the app from the menu bar on desktop versions.


1.3 Color Tags

Once the idea train gets going and your WriteMap gets flooded with a barrage of your thoughts, things can have a way of getting out of control. Keep things organised on your WriteMap by color-tagging nodes to group them together.

To help restore a semblance of visual order to the mind map you're facing you can set the background color of each individual node, choosing from a variety of colors, so as to create distinct categories you can focus on separately.

You can toggle the color of individual nodes from right-clicking (or long-pressing, on touch devices) a node and selecting the Color Tag option from the menu, or from within the node's content editor too.

WriteMapper Color Tags

1.3.1 Change Color Tags

Change the color of any node by right-clicking or long-pressing it, and then selecting the desired color from the "Color Tag" menu option. Any child nodes under this node will also have the new color tag applied to it too, saving you time in having to individually do so.

1.3.2 Set Default Color

Have a color you'd prefer to start every WriteMap with? You can set that color as the default for new WriteMaps from the app's Preferences, under the Default Node Color setting.

TIP: Instructions on how to access the Preferences menu across all platforms WriteMapper is available on may be found at this support article on the subject.

1.3.3 Random New Color

Child nodes of the main node are, by default, assigned a randomised color when created, to help you automatically categorise them with greater ease. You can turn this off from the Preferences as well, if you wish.

1.3.4 Editor Accents

Viewing the content editor of each node comes with a color-accented experience, which applies to elements in the text content, such as links, block quotes and code blocks.

1.3.5 Change From Editor

You can also change the color tag of a node from toolbar in the full editor view, which will also update the color accent of the content editor. On the iPad, ensure that the keyboard is dismissed, which will reveal the toolbar color tag button in the middle.

1.3.6 Action History

The action of changing a color tag is fully integrated into the undo/redo action history, allowing you to easily retrace previous color tags used.

1.3.7 Dressed To Impress

Each color tag actually comprises two shades of color, which is put together with a subtle gradient, forming an elegant and pleasing visual result. The predefined colors were also painstakingly selected to not only look great on their own, but also work well in both light and dark backgrounds.

1.3.9 Export Filters

Color tags can also be used as export filters, for selecting which nodes should be included or excluded in the exported text document file. You may find the export filter settings located with the app's Preferences options.


1.4 Dark Mode

WriteMapper was designed to be a joy to work with — besides being easier on your eyes in Dark Mode, it's also an aesthetically pleasing, pretty sight to look at. With Dark Mode turned on in WriteMapper, you can now work in comfort, day or night, with a beautifully-designed dark mode interface.

The app is also configured to be compatible with macOS Mojave's Dark Mode, having the ability to detect if the Dark Mode setting has been turned on on your Mac, and if so, will automatically take up Dark Mode for its interface appearance as well.

If you have a default preference you'd like WriteMapper to always open up with, you can also indicate this from the app's Preferences, and the app will remember that configuration the next time you start it up.

WriteMapper Dark Mode

1.4.1 Attention To Detail

Each part of the WriteMap's window has been fine-tuned to look great in Dark Mode, be it while viewing the mind map or the content editor. If you wish, you can also view this website in Dark Mode right now, by scrolling up clicking the icon in the top-right of the page.

1.4.2 Easily Accessible

You can toggle Dark Mode from the menu bar (under View) on desktop, or by right-clicking the WriteMap's background, and from the More menu () on iPads.

1.4.3 macOS Integration

On macOS Mojave and up, WriteMapper automatically detects if your Mac has Dark Mode enabled, and helps you switch to it upon starting the app up, or when you toggle Dark Mode on your Mac while having the WriteMapper app open.

1.4.4 Default Mode

You can also define if the app should apply Light or Dark Mode during each time it's opened, by setting this from the option in your Preferences.


1.5 Keyboard Shortcuts

Don't like having to take your hands off the keyboard, finding that it slows you down? Boost your writing productivity with a range of simple keyboard shortucts.

Besides triggering actions from the toolbar or menu bar of the app, it's also got keyboard shortcuts incorporated into almost every action you can perform in WriteMapper. Whether zooming in and out, or selecting different nodes across the mind map, we've got it all covered.

Other than commands that can be performed on the WriteMap itself, we've also integrated keyboard shortcuts into the content editing experience, so that as you're typing your notes into the distraction-free editors of individual nodes, you can format and style text at the same time too.

WriteMapper Keyboard Shortcuts

1.5.1 Wide Range

For almost every action you can perform in WriteMapper, there exists a corresponding keyboard shortcut you can use to trigger it quickly. See here for a full list of keyboard shortcuts on all platforms.

1.5.2 All Platforms

We designed hardware keyboard shortcuts to work with all operating systems WriteMapper is available on, whether macOS, Windows, or even on the iPad.

1.5.3 Familiarity

We made sure to not reinvent the wheel when it comes to assigning shortcut keys. Continue using keyboard shortcut definitions you're used to on other apps and systems, such as the ones for the undo and redo actions.

1.5.4 Desktop Shortcuts

You can also view the corresponding keyboard shortcut for each available action by browsing the options in the menu bar and right-click menus, which will display the shortcut to the right of the accompanying action.

1.5.5 iPad Shortcuts

On iOS, you can bring up the list of supported keyboard shortcuts by holding down the command key while the WriteMapper app is open. Do note that you can also swipe left and right if there are more commands listed than can be accommodated by the menu that shows up.

1.5.6 Custom Shortcuts

You can also configure keyboard shortcuts to use custom key bindings, from the option in Preferences — should you so prefer! Duplicates settings are prevented by the app alerting you if you try to set a custom keyboard shortcut that's actually already assigned to another command. Also, on desktop versions, you'll need to perform a restart of the app to apply the new keyboard shortcuts (check your work is saved before restarting).


1.6 Task Status

While in the process of organising your thoughts, it's inevitable that you finish perusing some before others. The Task Status features help you gain clarity on what’s left to do, by being able to mark individual nodes as done.

In a WriteMap with many nodes, or if your working style is to bounce around the place, it can be hard to keep track of what's been already worked on, and which nodes need further work before you can move on to the next step.

The Task Status function allows you to indicate which nodes have been completed, by toggling an option from the right-click (or long-press) menu of each node. When Task Status is toggled on, a checkmark icon will be displayed on the left-sided info rectangle in place of the information of that node's depth.

WriteMapper Task Status

1.6.1 Toggle In WriteMap

To mark a node as completed, right-click or long-press the node and select the "Toggle Task Status" option, which also appears in the menu bar on desktop versions, in Node > Toggle Task Status. There's also a dedicated keyboard shortcut for toggling the Task Status of the currently selected node, with Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

1.6.2 View In WriteMap

When marked as "done", a checkmark icon will appear in place of the node's depth info on the left side of the node, while it is selected.

1.6.3 View All Statuses

To easily view the Task Status of all nodes on the WriteMap, use the tilde ~ keyboard shortcut, which will reveal the info of all nodes at once.

1.6.4 In Content Editor

You can also view and toggle the Task Status of a node from the tag icon in the toolbar while in the content editor, without having to leave the editor.

1.6.5 Export Filters

Task status can also be used as an export filter, for selecting which nodes should be included or excluded in the exported text document file. Export options are available from the app's Preferences settings, and are applied to the WriteMap before the text document to be exported is generated by the app.


1.7 Quick Search

A key feature that helps productivity apps like WriteMapper let you do more, Quick Search allows you to straightforwardly locate any node's topic you have in mind, searching through topics of all nodes to find the ones that match your search query.

This feature comes in especially handy when you're working with a particularly large WriteMap with numerous nodes, and don't want to have to sift through all of it in order to locate the one you're thinking of.

WriteMapper Quick Search

1.7.1 Quick Access

You can reach for the Quick Search feature in a jiffy, with the dedicated keyboard shortcuts Cmd+F on macOS and iPad and Ctrl+F on Windows.

1.7.2 Instant Search

Search results show up immediately as you type out your search query, helping you find what you're looking for in the shortest possible time. Tapping on or clicking a result will select that node on the mind map for you.

TIP: Selecting a result that is collapsed and not visible in the WriteMap view will have the app automatically expand that node for you, making it visible and then selecting it to indicate its position.

1.7.3 Smart Result Ranking

The results most relevant to the search term will be ranked higher, and placed further up the list of results returned and displayed to you. This is calculated based on the positioning of where the matches in the node titles occur, as well as the frequency of the number of matches made.


Now that you know how to create a content outline using the mind map interface of WriteMapper, we can move on to the next part of our guide, which will cover writing each node's contents.

Written with WriteMapper

WriteMapper is an outlining software tool that will help you skyrocket your writing productivity.

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