Thought­book User Guide

Note: this guide is best understood by accessing and reading it from within the Thoughtbook app. You can try Thoughtbook for free - get it from the download page.

Interface Overview

The leftmost pane is occupied by the sidebar. It is here you can pin pages and search queries for quick access.

The center pane is occupied by one of three views:

  1. The search view for locating pages in your thoughtbook.
  2. The draft view for editing pages.
  3. The cataloguing view for editing entries in your Library.

The rightmost pane is occupied by the presentation view. It is here where your draft takes shape with formatting, a table of contents, citations, and links to other pages in your thoughtbook.

You can toggle the visibility of each view from the toolbar or the View menu.

Add a new page

You can add a new page by selecting New Page from the toolbar or the File menu.

By default, new pages will open in a new tab. If you prefer new pages to open in the current tab, you can set this behavior in Preferences.

In addition to basic pages, you can also add a Library item by selecting New Library Item from the toolbar or the File menu. Library items are your bibliographic references such as books, journal articles, websites, films, songs, etc.

You can add Library item data in two different ways:

  1. Manually add the item by selecting its type (book, journal article, etc.) in the menu, then fill in the various data fields.
  2. Select From ISBN or DOI… and provide an ISBN or a DOI to automatically add the item’s catalogue data without any additional input. Note that data sometimes cannot be retrieved for an ISBN or DOI. In this case, you’ll have to add the Library item data manually, as in the first cataloguing method.

Each Library item also has a basic page associated with it for writing notes, summaries, links to PDF’s, etc.


Note: everything you write is saved automatically.

Writing takes place in the draft view. You can toggle the draft view by selecting Edit Page from the toolbar or the View menu.

Thoughtbook uses a very minimalist and simple formatting system called Lorescript. Lorescript is very similar to Markdown, but with additional features. Observe the following lore in the draft view and how it appears in the presentation view:

italic or italic

bold or bold

a 3rd-level example heading

a 4th-level example heading

A link to, or just the raw link:,

The Thoughtbook app logo

Note: you can also link to local files with [link name](path/to/file) link lore.

Tis a quote

For thee

  1. ordered list item 1
  2. ordered list item 2
  3. ordered list item 3

horizontal rule:

Inline verbatim text - other formatting such as *italic* and **bold** are ignored

A block of...
...verbatim text.
Other formatting such as...
...*italic*, **bold**,
## Headings, and
> quotes
are ignored.

Observe in the draft view that paragraphs are separated by a double-space.

Observe at the top of the presentation view that each heading receives a matching entry and link in the table of contents.

Observe the following line at the very beginning of the draft view: tags: thoughtbook. You may opt to include tags: on the very first line of any page, followed by any number of words or phrases separated by semicolons or commas. I.e: tags: architecture, Ancient Greece study. Adding tags to a page can help you stay organized. We’ll cover how to search for tagged pages later on.


You can insert an in-text reference citation from the menu Edit > Insert Reference…

Search for the page you’d like to cite from the resulting popup menu, then select it. Something like this will then be inserted into the draft view: [@citation-key]. This [@citation-key] is then automatically transformed into a properly-formatted reference in the presentation view.

Both Library items and basic pages can be referenced in this way.

In-text citations can optionally include a note following a comma or semicolon inside of the square-brackets: [@citation-key; an in-text citation note].

Each in-text citation becomes a numbered link in the presentation view. These links will bring you to the References section where you will find a complete bibliography, any in-text citation notes, and additional links that will take you to each cited page and Library item.

Searching for Pages

You can toggle the search view by selecting Search for Pages from the toolbar or the View menu.

Here are some search examples with special syntax you can use to help you narrow down what you’re looking for:

Note: When it comes to your search terms, it matters not whether they’re capitalized – “plato” will match “Plato”, “PlAtO”, and “PLATO” all the same.

plato retrieves pages with “plato” anywhere in the text.

plato cave retrieves pages with both “plato” and “cave” anywhere in the text, but not necessarily in sequence.

title: symposium retrieves pages with “symposium” in the title.

tags: architecture retrieves pages with “architecture” in the tags list.

date: 10/24/2021 or date: 2021-10-24 retrieves all pages created on October the 24th, 2021.

title: plato tags: philosophy retrieves pages with “plato” in the title and “philosophy” in the tags list.

Search Operators

Also available to help you are a number of special search operators: AND, OR, ", *, and (). These can be combined in a variety of ways:

Note: When it comes to search operators, AND and OR must be capitalized to take effect.

title: (plato AND symposium) retrieves pages with both “plato” and “symposium” in the title. Without the enclosing (), title: plato AND symposium would retrieve pages with “plato” in the title, but will match “symposium” anywhere in the text.

"paradise lost" retrieves pages with the phrase “paradise lost” anywhere in the text. Without the enclosing ", paradise lost would match pages with “paradise” and “lost” in any sequence anywhere in the text.

title: plato tags: "current study" retrieves pages that have “plato” in the title and “current study” in the tags list.

plato OR aristotle retrieves pages with either “plato” or “aristotle” anywhere in the text. Without the OR, plato aristotle would only retrieve pages that possess both “plato” and “aristotle” in the text.

aris* retrieves pages with words that begin with “aris” and end with anything, such as “aristotle” and “aristocrat”.

The Sidebar

You can pin pages here for quick access through the sidebar’s context menu and the View menu.

You can pin search queries through the sidebar’s context menu.

These pinned pages and searches can be organized into collections.

You can remove sidebar items via the item’s context menu.

Note: removing a page or Library item from the sidebar does not delete it from your thoughtbook.


Pages can be exported to a variety of formats such as PDF or HTML. You export your pages in the menu: File > Export > …

The following export formats require Pandoc and LaTeX to be installed before exporting:

This page was written and published with Thoughtbook.