So Close to Replacing Ulysses with Obsidian for Book but for

I’ve been using Obsidian (along with DT) extensively for my research, the majority of which is currently focused on a book project. The more I use Obsidian, become comfortable with it, and add a few helpful plugins, the better I like it. If I could figure out an effective way to use Obsidian for my book project, I’d dump the Ulysses subscription. I do all of my other writing, school communications, board reports, blog articles and more, in Obsidian. I’m only using Ulysses for the book project. It would be nice to have all of my writing projects in a single application.

I have two friction points.

  1. Reordering chapters is tedious in Obsidian requiring me to renumber chapters to keep them in the right order, which can change. I could stop numbering them but then I lose the continuity that comes from a predefined structure. I can’t think of a solution. I suspect there is not one but if you have suggestions, I’m open to them.

  2. I’m using the Footnote Shortcut plugin. It works great. However, when I export to Word, the footnotes become endnotes. Should I be using a different plugin?

Any helpful suggestions will, as always, be appreciated.

I will cross-post this in the Obsidian forum as well but I’ve found folks here to be particularly helpful and responsive. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I am not looking onto Obsidian as a Tool for Writing.
While it might be possible to do so, I would stay with Ulysses for that matter.
And I would have an other reason to do so:
Writing a book might be something special over writing other things like Blogposts, or Notes.
I for myself would like to have a special place without distraction, to do so.
So, if only for this reason, I would keep Ulysses as a part to be undistracted by all the stuff you write into Obsidian, and to have a kind of a Ritual, to focus on the Bookproject.


For your item 1, is it convenient for you to use a note, where you “transclude” your chapters to?

Say your book is [[book]], and youhave [[preface]], [[index]], and the chapters [[marvelous]], [[the]], [[grilled]], [[shrimp]], [[is]].

[[book]], would read:

uid: xxx
date created: ddd

The book is on the table




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Agree, that is what I’m currently doing, and may continue doing. That said, I created a separate vault for the book so in that respect, it is distraction free from all other Obsidian material.

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This is an intriguing idea. Would this be similar to a MOC for the book chapters? I presume I could then rearrange the contents of the MOC. Would I need to Transclude or could I just [[ ]] the name of each chapter in the MOC (essentially a TOC)?

There is an “outline” feature in Obsidian but it seems to only outline documents, not headings.

Ideally, one could create a TOC/MOC that would also capture the headings in a document but I don’t understand how I could do this. Can this be done with transclusion? If so, how?

One option–workable but may not be ideal–is to have Omnioutliner next to my writing as needed. I’ve already outlined most of the chapters and heading in Omnioutliner.

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Plus 1 for either transclusion or simple MOC. Tranclusion has the advantage of allowing you to see the entire book in sequence by just viewing the note that is the top one.

Quickly flipping between read and edit modes allows you to see how the structure changes.

I might consider putting all chapters and book research info into a separate folder for ease of working with it outside the Obsidian system.

I’m even moving nearly everything out of Scrivener (my writing app of choice) into Obsidian because of how easy it is to do the linking, rearranging etc. in it. For my Nano Novels I’m going toput each one into a folder, the chapters or scenes as individual notes and use a kanban board with cards that are links to the files as my MOC. I am also considering a transcluded note as well.

I never liked Ulysses. I’ve tried it a couple of times and it just never clicks for me.



That approach provides you with limitless granularity.

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Like @bmosbacker I’d like to move from Ullysses to Obsidian for longform writing. But I’m a little in the dark about transclusion et al. Would it be possible for a more experienced Obsidian user to explain this in a little more detail? Thanks in advance.

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Is it possible to export a document with transclusions to a formatted PDF/docx file?

One of the joys of Ulysses is not only the drag and drop reordering and material sheets, but the ease of exporting to other formats. I export some groups in large font for presenting from my iPad, others in ‘normal’ font for printing/giving to other people. I use both PDF and docx as required.

I found the Pandoc extension for Obsidian but it doesn’t seem at all straightforward to style the exported documents. I thought I could use the excellent Marked 2 which I’ve already set up with the required style, but it doesn’t support Obsidian transclusions as far as I can tell.

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@OogieM Thank you! May I ask a favor? You are more technically proficient than I. Would you mind sharing a few (redacted if appropriate) screenshots showing how you have this setup? I’m thrilled to read your reply (and others on this thread) as it give me hope that this can be done without too much fiddling.

Ulysses is ok. I mainly use it because it is markdown and I can manually rearrange the sheets. Apart from latter feature, I would prefer to use something else. Scrivener is powerful but is “updated” at a snails pace, if at all and I dislike using DropBox sync.

Thanks for the help!!

For my use case, this doesn’t bother me too much. As long as I can get the near final manuscript into Word, I will finalize the formatting in Word before sending to the editor or publisher.

To embed a file in a note, add ! before the file, where the file is between square brackets.

See Embed files - Obsidian Help

That’s fair, and I can see your point. I’m producing several documents a week at times in Ulysses and it handles all the formatting for me. (I just added a new style for printing 2 pages per sheet with a correspondingly bigger font).

For my use case, I think I’ll suck up the Ulysses subscription and count it as buying me time!

That’s also fair. :wink:

Reposting, in case people find it useful:

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Thanks! I’ll definitely check this out. I hate to ask such a stupid question but humility is a virtue so here goes; I can’t ever figure out how to download and install a file from GitHub. I don’t have a GitHub account, is that the issue or am I just not seeing what I need to do to install plugins on GitHub to Obsidian?


Inside of Obsidian, you can find all the plugins that have gone through the developers. You find it under community plugins and then you search for Longform.

Besides transclusion, you can also rearrange headers in the outline with drag and drop.

You want to look for “Releases” in the right column on GitHub. This takes you to the compiled files for a project. As GitHub focuses on the source code, the main column lists the source files, which is not what you want to download unless you intend to contribute (make changes) to the code and/or you intend to compile it yourself.


As you can see, the “Latest” release is listed under “Releases”. Clicking in that will take you to a list of files available for the most recent release. In this case, it will list the three files mentioned in the Readme ( main.js , manifest.json , and styles.css) along with zip and tar.gz files which presumably each contain the same three files (perhaps plus more; docs, readme, etc). If you want some release other than the latest, then click on either the “Releases” header or the +n releases link (where n is the number of releases minus 1) to be taken to a list of releases.

As a aside, not all projects make use of GitHub’s “releases” feature. So if the “Releases” item is missing, then you may need to find a link on the homepage of the project to some other location to download a compiled release of the project.

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As @Kullenej said, you can install it from Obsidian by searching for it in the Community Plugins.

You can also install it manually based on @waylan’s instructions, but I wouldn’t recommend it: it’s harder to keep updated that way. It is useful if you are concerned about the safety of the code, though, and want to ensure you know what the plugin is doing under the hood.

If you think you will be done in 1-2 years for your book it’s just worth the subscription. You can concentrate on getting the book out than fiddling with the tool. A happy writing platform with less friction goes along way. If it were me I would just stick with Ulysses and reconsider later in future if I still need once the book is out.