Supporting Files (Notes)

novelWriter doesn’t have a database and compicated forms to fill in all details about plot elements, characters, and all sorts of additional information that isn’t a part of the novel text itself. Instead, all such information is saved in notes. The relation between all these additional elements is extracted from these files by the project indexer based on the tags and references you set.

These files are not required, but making at least minimal files for each such plot element, and add a tag to them, makes it possible to use the Outline feature to see how each element intersects with each section of the novel itself, and add clickable cross-references between documents in the editor and viewer.

Tags in Notes

Each new heading in a note file can have a tag associated with it. The format of a tag is @tag: tagname, where tagname is a unique identifier. Tags can then be referenced in the novel files, or cross-referenced in other note files, and will show up in the outline view and in the back-reference panel when a document is being viewed.

The syntax highlighter will alert the user that the keyword is correctly used and that the tag is allowed, that is, the tag is unique. Duplicate tags should be detected as long as the index is up to date. An invalid tag should have a green wiggly line under it, and will not receive the syntax colour that valid tags do.

The tag is the only part of these files that the application uses. The rest of the file content is there for the writer to use in whatever way they wish. Of course, the content of the files can be exported if you want to compile a single document of all your notes, or include them in an outline.

A note file can also reference other note files in the same way novel files do. When the note file is opened in the view panel, these become clickable links, making it easier to follow connections in the plot. Note files don’t show up in the outline view though, so referencing between notes is only meaningful if you want to be able to click-navigate between them.


If you cross-reference between notes as well, and export your project as an HTML file using the export tool, the cross-references become clickable in the exported document.