I have been compiling some lore notes on my world by hand for some time now. I realize they will only get more extensive and am currently looking for a way to organize them digitally. Does anyone have any suggestions on an efficient way to do this? I am looking for anything from software to help with organization to suggestions on an abstract storage structure that comprehensive and maybe even prompts further lore development.

EDIT: I am not searching for a pure software solution but rather an algorithmic solution to better organize my data, whether it be implemented im software already available or not. I apologize if my question was not clear enough on that front.

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    $\begingroup$ If you were to go the software route, what are some basic (or advanced) features you'd want to have? $\endgroup$ – Seth Jun 23 '15 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ Always keep a back up of your files. Ideally on an external drive or a USB key. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Jun 23 '15 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Seth The features I would mostly desire would be organizing a large body of information while maintaining relationships between them with a way to easily subdivide them into categories. I suppose it's much too late for that now as the question was closed. $\endgroup$ – Leon7C Jun 23 '15 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Leon can you explain what you are wanting an algorithmic solution to accomplish? I am not sure how an algorithm can accomplish the organization of non-standard data. $\endgroup$ – James Jun 23 '15 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @James Perhaps algorithm wasn't the best word to use here as design pattern seems to be a better fit. What I am looking for is a general idea of how organize information that is easily scalable and maintainable. I am still unsure how to express this idea better, so if that still doesn't help, I will do more research and post a post a question when I better understand. Thank you all for the help, regardless :) $\endgroup$ – Leon7C Jun 23 '15 at 20:55


I (indirectly) use HTML, but instead of writing straight in HTML, I write with Markdown which is text formatting language that Stack Exchange uses (you wrote your question with markdown, I'm wrote this answer with markdown, etc).

You can make links, bold, italics, lists, insert images, etc.

So far, my answer looks like this:

# Formatting

Similar to what [Philip](https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/19598/9708) said:

I (indirectly) use HTML, but instead of writing straight in HTML, I write with [Markdown](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown) which is the text formatting language that Stack Exchange uses (you wrote your question with markdown, I'm wrote this answer with markdown, etc).

You can make [links](https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/19594/organizing-lore), **bold**, *italics*, lists, insert images, etc.


This is quite readable even if you don't know the syntax.


Similar to what Philip said: An old fashioned HTML/Markdown index could link to different sections of lore.

For my story, I have separate sections for alien creatures, alien cultures, things happening on Earth, etc. You should have top headings, ("Alien cultures") with subheadings that have a short description and link to more complete information:

Your index might look like this:

Alien cultures

Aliens from Foobar

  • Prefer to eat spicy food.
  • Think 'guacamole' is inherently funny
  • Enjoy abducting cows

Aliens from Barbaz

  • Sworn enemies of the Foobarians
  • Refer to their warriors as 'the Barbazians'
  • Insectoids from a very hot planet


Captain Knuckles

  • Master swordsman, fearless explorer

First Officer Janet

  • Stern, brilliant pilot

Engineer Jon

  • Hapless and surrounded by incomprehensible alien tech.

etc, etc. Each link should take you to more detailed information. The character links for example, might link to a mini-biography, description and selection of quotes. (Click edit if you want to see how I made that list)
The index can link to more detailed lists, as well, depending on the size of your world. A section titled "Alien Tech" might link to sub lists entitled "Games", "Faster than Light", "Communication", etc. For a fantasy world, replace "Tech" with "Magic", etc.

This makes for easy cross-referencing, which is as simple as linking to the right page.

Can I try Markdown

Sure, markdown is free. You will want to ask on another StackExchange for detailed installation instructions, but it should be as simple as installing perl and downloading markdown.

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Scrivener is a good organizer for writers and such.

Organizing lore in it should be easy, though the software is not for free although not that costly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. Scrivener is what I use. If the OP wanted something completely free (well, free if you have a PC with Office installed that is) MS OneNote could also work. But Scrivener is far superior for this purpose IMO $\endgroup$ – user1985189 Jun 23 '15 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ Wow...someone beat Monica to pimping scrivener :) $\endgroup$ – James Jun 23 '15 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ Joze, I have marked this question as a duplicate but I don't believe anyone mentioned Scrivener as an answer in the other question so you may want to post an answer there. Please provide more detail \functionality in your answer. $\endgroup$ – James Jun 23 '15 at 15:29

The first thing that came to mind would be to create HTML pages for each entry. Have an index page, which just holds a list of links to the various categories. Under each category, you could include more links to other topics.

E.g. the index could have a link to "Mythology", which could be subdivided into the various civilisations ("Bardoopia" and "Nuubery" for the sake of an exmaple). Under "Bardoopia", you could include links to the Legends of Trololo, Ish-Kohn and Diddlee-Duu, while the mythology page for Nuubery could hold links to the tale of Les Pycrab and so on. You could even cross-reference other pages (such as what the inhabitants of Nuubery think of the Legends of Trololo).

Silly names aside, this does require you to have some basic knowledge of HTML. However, HTML is quite easy to learn, so once you have that you can extend your encyclopedia relatively easily, and it would run quite easily in any browser. The pages can just be in a folder on your desktop, so it doesn't need an Internet connection, and you edit the files with any text editor (such as the bog-standard one that comes with Windows), so it shouldn't cost anything other than time.

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