Best Outline Software: 6 Top Tools to Try

Are you looking for the best outline software for Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS? Let’s look at some of the top programs to help enhance your brainstorming.

Before you start writing, you must have an outline. For example, you might be someone who enjoys mind mapping, or you might enjoy customizable templates; whatever your preferred method is, outlining your work is always beneficial. Even though you can certainly do this using traditional note-taking options, such as pencil and paper, you might benefit from using software programs that provide you with advanced functionality.

If you are looking for the best outlining app, take a look at a few of the top choices below, and enhance your outlining capabilities. 

The best outline software

1. Evernote

Pricing: There is a free version. The paid version starts at $7.99 per month.
Best for: Those who prioritize efficiency over premium features.

Evernote
It comes with a convenient user interface that you can use to navigate

If you are looking for the best outline software, you may want to take a look at Evernote. Even though this is more of a project management program, it can also help you create outlines for your work. It comes with a convenient user interface that you can use to navigate across different outlines, and you can take advantage of a wide variety of 10 + that can speed up the process.

You can also change the way you format your text to make it more attractive to you while also syncing your notes across all devices. 

Pros
  • You have access to a lot of templates.
  • The user interface is very easy to navigate.
  • You can quickly sync your notes across multiple platforms.
Cons
  • You cannot access the notes offline.
  • A free account has a very limited amount of space.
  • If you want to upgrade your free account, the premium account is expensive. 

Check out our guide what is Evernote?

2. Scrivener

Pricing: Options start at $19.99.
Best for: Those who have long research papers to write regularly.

Scrivener
The program comes with various features that can make it easier to construct your outline

You may also want to check out Scrivener, which is a popular tool that you can use to plan long-form copy. Many people love this tool because it feels a lot like Microsoft Word. If you enjoy Microsoft products, you should find this tool easy to use.

The program comes with various features that can make it easier to construct your outline. For example, you might want to use the research functionality to import work and compare your writing to your research information. Then, you can put all of your points together into one cohesive outline before you fill out the entire copy.

Pros
  • The research functionality makes it easy to write academic papers.
  • You have access to a comprehensive board that you can use to lay out your information.
  • The program comes with many customizable features that you can tailor to meet your needs.
Cons
  • One of the more expensive options available.
  • The learning curve is incredibly steep.
  • It will take you a long time to manually check your spelling and grammar, as there is no built-in feature.

You can read our Scrivener review here.

3. Microsoft OneNote

Pricing: Free. You also have access to the paid version through Microsoft 365.
Best for: Those who have a lot of familiarity with Microsoft products.

One Note
You can also take advantage of an annotation feature that can help you quickly scribble notes on your work

Even though Microsoft OneNote isn’t what people traditionally think of as an outlining software, it offers many of the same features. For example, you can create outlines for upcoming projects using pages, notebooks, headings, and more. You can even include multimedia options such as videos and images.

You can also take advantage of an annotation feature that can help you quickly scribble notes on your work. As long as you have a Microsoft account, this app is included for free.

Pros
  • It is available on just about every platform.
  • You can take advantage of a free version.
  • It comes with a lot of free storage space as long as you have a Microsoft account. 
Cons
  • It doesn’t have many features that dedicated outline software programs have.
  • You need to have a Microsoft account to access many of the features.
  • The paid version is expensive. 

You can read our thoughts on Microsoft OneNote versus Evernote here.

4. Dynalist

Pricing: Free. The paid version starts at $9.99 per month.
Best for: Those looking for a customizable outlining app.

Dynalist - writing app
You have access to a wide variety of formatting options

If you are looking for an exceptional outlining program, you may want to check out Dynalist. It has a minimal learning curve, a friendly interface, and numerous customizable options that you can use to turn on and off features at will. In addition, if you want to close out unnecessary features or pages, you can do so easily.

You have access to a wide variety of formatting options, and you can even sync this program with your Google Calendar to make the process easier. In addition, the free plan provides you with plenty of storage space and numerous features, so you may never need to upgrade to the premium option. 

Pros
  • The free plan provides you with a lot of storage space and numerous features.
  • You can sync this program with your Google account.
  • The user interface is straightforward and easy to use.
Cons
  • You might have a difficult time copying and pasting images into this program.
  • The program can be a bit slow sometimes.
  • Not ideal if you work in a non-English language.

You can read our Dynalist review here.

5. MindMeister

Pricing: Free plan. Paid plans start a $4.99 per month.
Best for: Those who like a visual outline of their work.

MindMeister tutorial
You have access to various features that make your mind map more interactive

If you are looking for a mind mapping tool that can help you layout your outline visually, then you may want to check out MindMeister. This is a tool you can use to collaborate with other people in real-time. 

You can share mind maps with others, take a look at the changing history of the project, and turn your outline into an engaging, dynamic presentation that helps you figure out where the individual pieces of your work will go. 

Pros
  • It is straightforward to access the tool and get started.
  • You can collaborate with other people on the same mind map in real-time.
  • You have access to various features that make your mind map more interactive. 
Cons
  • It’s an online-only tool with no desktop application.
  • The free version only gives you access to three maps.
  • Premium version does not offer monthly payments.

6. Plottr

Pricing: Free trial available. The paid version starts at $25 per year.
Best for: Those who write books.

Plottr
All of the features are customizable to meet your needs

If you are looking for an outline program that can help you write books, you may want to look at Plottr. This is a convenient program that makes it easy to plan books visually. You have access to drag-and-drop features, a wide variety of character templates, and customizable plot layouts. You can also tag your characters, filter events in your book, and customize pages for various purposes.

Pros
  • You get to use drag and drop features.
  • All of the features are customizable to meet your needs.
  • The program comes with a guided tour.
Cons
  • You do not have the option to sync this program to the cloud.
  • When it comes time to write your text, you need to do this somewhere else.
  • It can be a bit cumbersome if you have a large universe to construct in your book. 

Final Word on the Best Outline Software

If you want to expand your writing tools with strong writing software, you may want to check out a few of these outline programs. They can help you with project management, and you can create different nodes that represent events in your work.

You need to think carefully about the type of writing you do. That way, you can find the best outlining tools to meet your needs. For example, you might be someone who likes to lay out simple bullet points in a writing app, or you might be looking for a comprehensive layout in Google Docs. Consider putting a few of these outlining tools to work for you. 

FAQs About the Best Outline Software

Why do I need to outline my work before I start writing?

Outlining your work is helpful because it allows you to stay organized as your story unfolds. You don’t want to put your events in the wrong places, and you don’t want to spend too long writing about one portion of the story.

How do I find the best outline software for my needs?

You need to think about your writing style and whether you want a written or image-heavy outline. Then, think about your platform. For example, do you use an Apple product, such as an iPad or other macOS device? Or, do you want a program that works on Linux? Then, you can find the best outline or markdown program to meet your needs.

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