How do you export Scapple notes in the correct order?

I’m using Scapple to outline my novel. I have a bunch of notes and I’ve moved them around and around, edited them and finally have them in the right order. For example:

Chapter Heading

Note #1 Note #2 Note #3 Note #4 Note #5

Note #6 Note #7 Note #8 Note #9 Note #10

I export to RTF but I get:

Chapter Heading

Note #4 Note #5 Note #6 Note #7 Note #8

Note #1 Note #2 Note #3 Note #9 Note #10

Then for Chapter 2, I have a bunch of notes and then the Chapter Heading note etc.

How can I mark the notes in order, so when they export, it’s in the correct order? (the order I want them in)

This matter is discussed in §9.2.1 “The Order of Things”, pg 55-6. It goes over what Scapple tries to do, but the overall quick and dirty summary is: “What order?”. :slight_smile: Scapple is 100% freeform, flat and with only very provisional hierarchy built into it. It has no clue what you mean by order, outside of a few best guesses. For that reason using it to outline anything may not be the best use of your time.

That sucks. It would be nice to shift select the notes in order and have an option to export them in that order…

I hate the idea the computer is in control! :smiling_imp:

That said, I thought by shift stacking all the notes it would export them in that stacked order. That didn’t happen either. Logically, it should, shouldn’t it? :wink:

Speaking of order (I now know there isn’t any) however, is it possible to stack notes horizontally, or is it only vertically? If not, is it something that is planned for future releases, or not?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Well, you’re in complete control… the problem is that the computer can’t reliably figure out what you’re doing. :slight_smile: The thing is, most programs that work a bit like Scapple, actually limit what you can do up front in order to facilitate ordered output. We’ve opened the floodgates on what you can do, but that comes at the expense of no longer having easy machine-generated output.

On stacks, do you have individual items within the stacks connected to notes outside of the stack? That may get things out of order, because connections are considered “weightier” than stacks.

Stacking is indeed only done vertically, and there aren’t plans to add horizontal stacking. The feature was added to make list building easier.

Yes, they were individual items. I selected the top heading, and then all the rest and stacked them. The output was all over the place.

I’m just going to do it in Scrivener now.

Yeah you can drag into Scrivener and then use the outliner to get things into the right order. That is easier than typing it all out anyway.

I’m using Scapple to handle my planning phase of writing. Previously I was using various mind mapping apps, but figured I’d work with Scapple instead because I don’t need the more complex features most mind mapping apps have, and I figured it might have an edge/advantage when teamed up with Scrivener.

I’d like to know if there is any way to move data from Scapple to Scrivener, and maintain the note hierarchy (if and when utilised)? OPML can handle hierarchy data, yet Scapple seems to export a totally flat OPML file. Such that upon import into Scrivener, every notes is exported in to a separate file, and all files are on the same level.

I know it’s not an issue in Scrivener, as I can set up a hierarchical outline in OmniOutliner, export to OPML, and when I import that into Scrivener the hierarchy is maintained. So it seems to be the way Scapple deals with the exporting. Also, when I open the Scapple exported OPML file in OmniOutliner, it’s a flat outline in there too.

Looks like I found my answer in the Scapple Manual

9.2.1 The Order of Things
Before exploring the export possibilities, an important note on exporting to text formats
is in order. Scapple is at its most fundamental level a freeform application: notes can
be written anywhere; connections can be made all over the place, forming loopy circles
and Möebius strips. There is thus no logical order of notes for Scapple to walk through
when exporting to linear formats such as single text files. Neither is there any inherent


I expect I’m not the first to say it … but it would be great it there were at least an option to create a hierarchy (in the exported OPML file) based on the logic of mind map nodes. I say option, because as L&L points out, Scapple doesn’t identify any logical order (and therefore hierarchy) in Scapple files. However, if the user has chosen to use a typical mind-map node hierarchy (i.e. central node as level 1, sub-node as level 2, sub-nodes of that node as 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.) then I would like to suggest Scapple at least provide an export option along the lines of “Best guess hierarchy based on node structure”.

In the mean time, I’ll return to using a mind-mapping app for my planning.

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Why not do own numbering in note and could see files and quickly arrange based on your numbers 2, 2.1,2.22 etc

Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, I did consider that approach. However, mind mapping / brainstorming being what it is, I don’t tend to produce my notes (nodes) in the final order they’ll end up in. So I’d need to wait until I am certain no more rearranging is going to take place, and then go through and number them all.

But at that point, it would be quicker to export a flat OPML, open it in OmniOutliner, and TAB them into the correct hierarchy on there. However, that too is time consuming when I have more than a few notes/nodes. Hence my conclusion I’d be better off sticking with a mind mapping app, as they all export to OPML with hierarchy intact.

The beauty of Scapple is that it’s free-form. So when doing my initial brainstorming, I can chuck notes in all over the place (zero structure). Then I can drag them into a mind-map structure to organise them. But then it flops at the point, as that structure can’t be exported.

Which one do you use? I am using scapple more as location pic/ detail and to update as add details.

For anyone else that stumbles upon this, and is looking for something similar … the following work-around might do the trick. Although it’s not ideal when the number of notes (nodes) is substantial, or when there’s more than a few levels of notes in the tree you create in Scapple.

When it comes time to organising the notes, with the understanding Level One is the central node, put all level two notes in ALL CAPS, like a heading. Level three notes branch out from those.

If you have an outliner app, such as OmniOutliner, open the OPML file (exported from Scapple) in there. Although it’ll be a flat outline, you’ll see all your L2 items in APP CAPS. The items under those are the L3 (etc.) items. You can then move down through the outline using arrow keys (up and down) and the Tab key to push L3 items one level under the ALL CAPS L2 items. If you have additional levels, just how many you have will likely determine if you can come up with a way to visually identify them, and tab them two levels out, etc.

You can then save that OPML file, and when opening it in Scrivener the hierarchy will be maintained.

As mentioned, it’s a possible work around for when there’s a limited number of levels, and a limited number of notes.

Interesting thought, text colors, italics and strikethru do not translate in Scapple but bolding text does, that could also distinguish level of notes as well as caps.
or begin level one with bold, level two beginning caps and level three a symbol like *, level 4 **, etc if needed to go lower.

To better answer your question (for both of us) I’ve now gone through the various mind mapping applications I have, to figure out which works best for my needs in relation to Scrivener, now that I know the limitations of Scapple.

iThoughtsX works well. It’s a paid app, although for me it comes as part of my SetApp subscription (the only software subscription I have, since it makes hundreds of excellent apps available and more than pays for itself when using a lot of those apps).

The benefits of iThoughtsX: I allows for free-floating notes/nodes. Which is what I liked about Scapple. It exports (via “Share …”) into many formats, including OPML, Word, many mind mapping apps, etc. The node text becomes the file name and the synopsis in Scrivener. If you add note text to a node, that will become the file content in Scrivener.

So … I’m going to go back to using iThoughtsX for mapping out my writing plans.

That’s interesting. I had already discovered formatting like bold doesn’t come through into OmniOutliner, so it was no help there. I found OmniOutliner provided the fastest means to convert a flat file into a hierarchy. It would be handy if bold or some other formatting came through in the OPML.

Where is it you’re able to pick up on the bold from Scapple? When importing into Scrivener the file names have no formatting, so bold doesn’t show up (at least not as far as I can tell)?

just if note text is bold when import text will be bolded if drag multiple notes into file and could easily split and rearrange, I thoughtsx looks interesting though.

I stumbled upon this when I was searching for info on exporting from Scapple in the way I needed. Looks like Dr. Andus had exactly the same conundrum.

I am using more to organize various info for writing story to float and refer too as dictating/writing a scene. I like that can put scapple into document bookmarks to have available at a click on rewrites. But may consider trial of ithoughts for windows.