Writers: organizing, quickly moving sections around?

Slowly putting together a Markdown document and constantly adding ideas and sections to it. Becoming messy as document gets larger. How do you move sections and ideas around as more are added? Manually cutting and pasting for now but looking for smarter way.

Is there an app that users can move section headings in TOC and associated sections get moved as well? Something like Scrivener with its cork board probably best I could find but Scrivener is complex for what I’m doing. Any other suitable app especially for markdown? Cheers

How about Ulysses? It could be an option.

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Content blocks in iA Writer might work, too. Each section or idea would be in a different markdown file, and then a master file serves as a visual table of contents of sorts.

Obsidian (and probably others) offers ‘transclusion’. You precede a link to another note (or section of a note) with a !, and the contents of that note appear within the note. To rearrange things, you would just move the single line around. When you move the cursor off the line, the contents of the transcluded note will reappear.

Also in Obsidian, you can select several lines, then Option+arrows to move the lines up and down.

Here’s an overview of transclusion in Obsidian.

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I would also note that Obsidian’s ToC feature also does exactly what the OP is asking for, although using Obsidian just for this sounds roughly like using a jackhammer to hole-punch paper.

Nisus Writer Pro does exactly this. However, it doesn’t support Markdown.

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Not exactly as requested (i.e. move lines in a TOC to move corresponding blocks in the text) but Drafts has a useful arrange mode that works on block, line and sentence level. There’s also an action for moving a selected block to any other position in a list of headings.

https://essay.app is an option
I love an outliner like Roam as you can nest the sub sections


Multimarkdown Composer can do this. MultiMarkdown Composer


The easiest way to do what you want is Multimarkdown Composer (as noted just above). I have no doubt the other suggestions are also good, but MMC makes it so simple.

I don’t think the free version will do what you want, but one of the advanced upgrades. More info here: MultiMarkdown Composer v4


Ulysses is best at this imo: add a couple files, click and drag them around, sort manually, etc.

This is actually a different question from the first paragraph. In one scenario, you want to quickly rearrange text. Ulysses is perfect for that kind of organization. In this scenario, you want to create a TOC, then move the headings therein to reorganize your text (a very different workflow). iA Writer does this very well, but does not include Ulysses’ organization features.

Trial them both and see which you prefer.

I use Obsidian for notes daily, and use the transclusion feature a lot. Unfortunately, it creates performance issues in Preview mode, and I wouldn’t recommend Obsidian if this was your primary use case.

I haven’t used MultiMarkdown Composer, but if others here recommend it, I’d try it.

I’m sticking with Obsidian but I do it by making each section a separate document and then making a single file that transcludes all the individual pieces as @JohnAtl described above. Then moving things around is just moving the link to the document that contains that piece.

Another option I tried in my NaNo Novel this year was to use block references. I think that will work as well but is a bit more fiddly to get it all set up.

Since all my initial notes and writing start in Obsidian now I am willing to fiddle a bit to get it all to stay there for as long as possible. It’s easier and faster for me to edit it in there.

FWIW I also never use live preview and only rarely look at the documents in the reader mode in Obsidian so I don’t see any performance hits by using transclusions. Another benefit is that it’s really clear for me to see what’s going on and the flow of the document that way.

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Just a shout-out here for Scrivener.

It isn’t free, and it isn’t a Markdown app in the same way as some others, though I gather that it has some support.

But imo, it’s unparalleled in its ability to do the kind of thing you’re asking about: rearranging blocks of text in longform writing projects. So much so that it’s one of the very few text-based apps I use that don’t operate on plain text documents (Drafts being the other, and nothing really lives in Drafts for me, it just passes through).


As I understand it, Fletcher Penney is the driving force behind MultiMarkdown syntax and the MultiMarkdown Composer app. But he is also involved with Brett Terpstra in developing the ever coming, but never here, nvUltra app. I’ve been puzzling over whether both apps would continue to find a niche or whether Composer would fade away once nvUltra is available.


Thank you everyone for so many suggestions.

I have Draft, iA writer and haven’t used Obsidian for a while. Draft is good for quick notes but can’t imagine using that for large document. Obsidian is great for slip notes but again can’t imagine using that - might go back and give it a try but from memory, it might not be the one I’m looking for.

Created TOC for quick overview plus ability to click on TOC and jumping to section to edit/add/delete text there. Moving section around would be a great help, was thinking of finding an app that I can just rearrange heading/section on TOC and their associated text also moved. iA Writer can do that? I know about blocks/etc but found them bit cumbersome for big documents.

Never heard of this app. Took a quick look on their website and it looks interesting. Standard edition or do I need Pro?

I do like it mainly because of cork board but learning curve looks steep.

Prefer not to store stuff on someone else’s cloud.

Bought iA Writer a while back so never tried Ulysses and Bear.

Lots of apps for research this weekend :sweat_smile:

Checking Multimarkdown Composer website but the app hasn’t been updated for 3 years according to App Store…

Me, neither, but I looked for a description of their document storage model and did not find one. Must have missed it. Their approach to writing support looks interesting to say the least. However, the pricing model would be a stumbling block for me. I’m not a student nor a professional essayist so my present needs would not offset the costs.

That would make sense given that the developer is also a doctor and is involved in developing the competing nvUltra app.

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iA Writer lets you do it with blocks. That takes some time and effort though, and it’s a little bit of copying and pasting. I’d try Ulysses and see if you like it. It’s a little like Scrivener but for Markdown.

Do not discount Scrivener. The basics are easy to learn. It is very functional program with a minimum amount of learning. Documents go in the binder. Rearrange to your heart’s content. If you select the enclosing “folder/document” all subdocuments are displayed in the editor.

Do not let the interface intimidate you. Scrivener can be as simple as you want.