WorkFlowy Feature: Import Outlines from Microsoft Word and Plain Text

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January 19, 2015

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.

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Hugh O'Donnell
6 years ago

Outstanding!

erniehebert
6 years ago

Good work! Thank you.

illjustbee
illjustbee
6 years ago

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+

Kip Niswonger
6 years ago

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.

Kaelri
6 years ago

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.)

Mathias
Mathias
6 years ago

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!

leo424y
6 years ago

Outstanding!! I love it!! Plz keep going~

frank.dg
frank.dg
6 years ago

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 🙂

robertgkok
6 years ago
Reply to  frank.dg

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.

James C.
James C.
6 years ago
Reply to  frank.dg

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.

Chrystal Hurst
6 years ago
Reply to  James C.

@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?

j-lon
j-lon
6 years ago

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

frank.dg
frank.dg
6 years ago
Reply to  j-lon

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…

j-lon
j-lon
6 years ago
Reply to  frank.dg

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.

Rohan Jayasekera
6 years ago

Thanks! Sometimes I do copy and paste a hierarchy from plain text elsewhere and now I no longer have to manually adjust it!

acgarland
6 years ago

Thanks so much for making this a reality (and responding to this feature request by myself and others).

D.
D.
6 years ago

+1 on allowing larger font size

James C.
James C.
6 years ago
Reply to  D.

+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!

Kip Niswonger
6 years ago
Reply to  James C.

Echo the thought of too small text. Option to increase text size only solution for older people and those having trouble seeing.

Aaron
Aaron
6 years ago

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:
https://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/basics
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.)

Jesse Patel
Jesse Patel
6 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

Yep, I have fixed this and am going to deploy soon.

Rohan Jayasekera
6 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Patel

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.

john
john
6 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Patel

ditto Rohan’s comment. Patel rocks

Martin Gjerde
Martin Gjerde
6 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Patel

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…).

/Martin

robertgkok
6 years ago

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.

Jesse Patel
Jesse Patel
6 years ago
Reply to  robertgkok

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

robertgkok
6 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Patel

Awesome, now I can finally use all my favorite apps with the Swipe keyboard.

Kerim
6 years ago

Glad to see that support for Markdown list formatting is in the works. Great job.

Jim
Jim
6 years ago

At last!..thanks workflowy, this saves me a lot of time.

Patrick Wolf
5 years ago

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

Luigi
Luigi
25 days ago

Apparently this feature is not present anymore. When copying content from word the formatting is not maintained, or is kept just randomly.

Last edited 25 days ago by Luigi
Dave in the American Midwest

Is there a way to import outlines in 2021? As commenter Luigi pointed out, this feature is not present anymore.

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