WorkFlowy Feature: Import Outlines from Microsoft Word and Plain Text

You can now paste hierarchical lists from either Microsoft Word, or from a plain text editor, and WorkFlowy will maintain the hierarchy of the text. This is a basic feature that we’re really happy to finally support.

30 thoughts on “WorkFlowy Feature: Import Outlines from Microsoft Word and Plain Text

  1. Cool.. So can we now get an android app not only for 15% of devices running kitkat?
    or mb reminders? ok, for this feature only I’ll buy a new phone with 4.4+

  2. Love the feature. However… I am 56 years old and struggle to see Workflowy on my iPhone and iPad because the text is not large enough. If there was a way to bump text larger then I could use Workflowy on those apps and finally end up using it for my tasks and everything. Currently I still have to use those apps because the text on Workflowy is too small.

    Don’t change the current text size… just give the option to make it larger.

  3. Great timing. I recently realized that WorkFlowy actually makes for a better bookmark manager than Chrome’s actual bookmark manager, so I’ve been moving them into WorkFlowy en masse. This will save a ton of time.

    Incidentally, is there a way I can format the copied text so that it pastes with notes? I like to use the note field for tagging, and it would be great if I don’t have to do that one at a time.

    (I just accidentally submitted this comment to a post from 2012. Whoops.)

  4. Great work! In a poll a year ago you asked what the most requested feature was and the winner was “Dates & Reminders” with 37% of the votes. Are you planning on implementing that? It would be fantastic, and please make it a pro-only feature because people would pay for it! I know I would, it’s what I’m waiting for. It would really complete WorkFlowy, IMHO. I’ve asked support this question before with no clear answer, so I’d love one if you have one. Thanks for a great service!

  5. Thanks Jesse!
    Also… don’t forget that you can paste back and forth between Evernote and WorkFlowy now. Great for transferring frustrated attempts at outlining in Evernote 🙂

    1. My frustration about outlining in Evernote was the reasons I started using Evernote. Thanks for the heads up, I almost forgot that I can now paste back and forth between Evernote and Workflowy. This also works when I remove formatting in Evernote, which I use when I paste markdown into Evernote.

    2. Er, really? How so? Not working for me at all, whether from Workflowy’s export command or just from the main Workflowy window. When I paste into Evernote I just get a load of un-nested bullet points. What’s your secret?
      I’m on a Mac, BTW.

      1. @James Try copying your text from Workflowy, pasting into an email and sending to Evernote via your Evernote email. Think I just figured out a decent workaround until Evernote fixes the copy and paste functionality. Maybe it’s a Mac issue?

  6. What about formatting? If I have text bolded, underlined or italicized in a Word or RTF file shouldn’t that formatting carry over?

    1. That could be very tricky, especially for font types that are not supported, as is the case of some of the software giants such as Adobe InDesign…

      1. Fonts aren’t that important to me. What I was more concerned about is respecting bold, underlines, and italics. Given that WF has no search and replace function, one workaround would be to export the entire outline (or a portion), search and replace tags in MS Word or a rich text editor, and then paste it back into the WF (since WF now respects the indents from the file coming back in).

        But if you’ve applied text formatting like bold or italics in WF and it’s stripped out when you paste back in, then this workaround ceases to be a useful workaround because it just creates more work rather than saving time.

        Long-term if WF get its own search and replace function, this may be less of an issue, but right now it’s clunky to bulk change a bunch of tags if you’re trying to do something like GTD inside WF.

    1. +1. Impossible to use Workflowy on an iOS device for presentation notes right now. Font size is just too small to avoid having to hold the device idiotically close to one’s face while giving a presentation!

  7. Excellent! Now I’m an even bigger fan than ever.

    Now for one thing on the more technical side that I noticed:

    After a bit of testing, it looks like the way it understands the hierarchy coming from plain text is based on the whitespace at the leftmost edge of each line, e.g. 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 vs. 4 spaces/tabs. If you export a node out of Workflowy as plain text, it indents levels of the hierarchy not only by spaces in multiples of two – 2/4/6/8/etc.) and marks each bullet with a dash (-). If you import this back in, it does indeed retain the hierarchy, but then you have to manually delete these dashes. From a design standpoint, this means Workflowy kind of conflicts with itself. While it’s always a good idea to leave the user’s content as untouched as possible, if every line of content (after the whitespace) begins with a dash and then a space, it’s fully redundant and therefore it’s probably safe to assume the user wouldn’t mind if these dashes were automatically stripped out for them.

    Also, note that Markdown syntax allows for not only dashes but also asterisks (*) and plus signs (+) to mark the beginning of lines:
    So if the ‘removing of dashes’ feature I mention above is implemented, perhaps the program could also look for ‘asterisk+space’ or ‘plus sign+space’. (In particular, the former I could see as being quite common/useful.)

      1. That you consider this a “fix” and not a “feature” is indicative of the high standards at WorkFlowy, one of the reasons I’m happy to be a paying customer and fan.

      2. On the same note, would it be possible to make the import also handle the accompanying notes from exported outlines? Right now they turn up as nodes within citation marks when you “re-import” them. This would make the import and export fully compatible with each other (and also make my AHK-script work as intended… I need my notes…).


  8. Great feature, which I will be going to use with my markdown editors.

    What would be most helpful to me is support for 3rd party keyboards in iOS8. I use Workflowy very often on my iPhone and the doesn’t work with any 3rd party keyboard I use, so I have to switch back and forth between keyboards.

    1. We now support third party keyboard for hitting enter (but you can’t delete lines). Still, a big improvement.

  9. The outline comes across correctly from word but “Body Text” is imported as level one instead of underneath the last header.
    header 1
    – header 2
    — header 3
    — body text (this imported on the level of header 1)

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