Getting started guide

At its core, World Anvil is a tool to help you organize your creative process. As such, this is not a definitive guide on how you should use World Anvil, but rather what you can do.
 

First steps

After creating your account, you will be given the choice of either creating a new world or a new character. If you have created an account specifically to play in a campaign, you should choose the character option. Otherwise, choose Create my world (choose this option if you are game master too). This will take you to the world creation and the character creation pages, respectively.   For more information on how to create a character, please see the following guide:
Guide to Character Creation
Generic article | Aug 15, 2019
  Otherwise, create the world and keep reading for an overview of the World Anvil's layout.  

The Dashboard

Whenever you click the World Anvil logo at the top left corner you will access the Dashboard:
dashboard.png
  The sidebar (highlighted in green) contains links to various parts and tools of World Anvil (keep reading for more information on them). The Switch to... drop-down menu lets you quickly switch between worlds and characters you have created, while the world drop-down menu (Einya in the screenshot) has quick links to various interfaces you can use to edit your world —see the next section for more details!   The central part of the page has a global search bar (highlighted in yellow) that lets you search for articles and worlds created by any user on World Anvil (as long as they are public). If instead you would like to search articles in your world only, you can use the search bar at the top of the page. Under the global search bar there are the latest blog entries (highlighted in red) —the left column lists the latest development updates while the right column is a stream of the rest of blog entries. You can visit our blog at blog.worldanvil.com!   The right sidebar, highlighted in cyan, contains your latest edited articles (if you have a world selected) and upcoming sessions (if you are part of any RPG campaign). Click on the "Edit WORLD" blue button to access the world summary page!  

World edition

The central part of the page has three sections. Highlighted in green, you have a template menu. In World Anvil, all articles are created using a template (for example, religion is an organisation template, a person is a character template, etc.). If you click any of the buttons, you will access the article editor. Highlighted in red, there is a similar box to create dnd 5e-specific content (note that you will only see the box if you have selected the "Dungeons and Dragons 5e" RPG system when you created the world). Highlighted in yellow, you have the last articles that have been created and edited in your world.   The sidebar of this page (highlighted in cyan) has different content. From top to bottom:

  • "View your world" button: click it to view the world from the presentation view.
  • Campaigns & Characters: if you have a campaign running in your world, it will appear in this section. Otherwise, there will be a button to create it (see Guide to campaign creation for more information).
  • Continue working: The last article you edited will appear there so that you can get right back to work!
  • World word count: it's 10,000 by default, but you can change it in the world configuration. It's great to see your progress!
  • To-do list: it will be generated automatically every time you create a link to an article that doesn't exist. It contains all links to unexisting articles as well as articles created using the purple inkwell button.
  • Challenge box: if there is an active community challenge, it will also appear in the sidebar. This screenshot was taken during Summer Camp 2019, so that's why it appears there.

world summary.png
(click for full-size screenshot)

 

World menu

world menu.png

The world menu is displayed whenever you are browsing your world from the edit view. This section contains brief explanations for the pages you can access from it. Each of these pages has its own Codex guide, so this will just be short summaries. Click on each liknk for more information!

 

Articles

This is a full list of all articles in your world. You can order the list alphabetically or in "tree view" to have a better understanding of their organization if you have sorted them into different categories.
Guide to the Article list
Generic article | Aug 1, 2019

While adding glorious articles to your world you populate the article list.

Categories

Categories are a way to organize your world's articles. For example, you can have a category called "Birds" and fill it with articles about birds in your world, and then put the Birds category in a wider "Animals" category. This page lets you see all your world's category, both in the tree and alphabetical view.
Guide to Creating and Using Categories
Generic article | Aug 14, 2019

Categories will help you organize your world!

Maps

The map functionality of World Anvil lets you display the geography of your world (or parts of it) in a very interactive way. This page is just a list of all maps, with a link to view and edit them.
Guide to Maps
Generic article | Jun 29, 2019

A guide on how to use the different map features!

Timelines

Timelines let you display the history of your world, a country or a person in a very visual way. From this page, you can access your world's timelines, historical entries, and calendars.
Guide to Timelines
Generic article | Aug 12, 2019

Understanding the Time-Space Continuum in World Anvil

Images

This page displays all the images you have uploaded to your world, as well as the images galleries you have created. It's also the page you use to upload images. Keep in mind that you can't use external images; you need to upload them if you want to use them in articles.
Guide to Images
Generic article | Jul 29, 2019

A quick and easy guide that explains how to add and use images in your world.

Secrets

You can use secrets to keep information from your readers (or players, if you have an RPG campaign). Secrets are short pieces of information that can be embedded in articles and revealed to some people only (using subscribers).
Guide to Secrets
Tradition / Ritual | Jun 26, 2019

Good for writing, RPG Campaigns, or personal note-taking

To-Do List

The to-do list is a little nice feature that automatically lists all links that point to articles that don't exist, as well as drafts created by the purple inkwell button (in the bottom right corner). And, of course, you can also add new items yourself. It's a very handy feature when you are looking for articles to write!

Characters

You can tie Heroes characters to your world and you'll see them in this page. To learn more about Heroes, take a look at this guide:
Introduction to Heroes
Generic article | Jun 28, 2019

Create characters and manage campaigns like a true hero!

Followers

This page contains the list of people who follow your world. The "follow" button is displayed in your world's main page as well as at the bottom of all the articles in your world.

Access rights

This is another Guild-only feature that lets you add people as co-authors of your world. There are three levels of access, each with different permissions and limitations.
Guide to Authors
Generic article | Aug 12, 2019

Got a friend? Have them help you work on your world by adding them as an author.

Configuration

You can tweak several settings for your world. Its introduction, date and time settings, and much more! If you're a Guild member, you will be able to use this page to customise its appearance using CSS.
Guide to World Configuration
Generic article | Aug 13, 2019

This guide goes over all of the settings under the world configuration menu! Use this to finetune your world's settings such as cover image, date, css and more!

Worlds List

This will take you out of your current world! If you have multiple worlds, this page will list all of them with links to access their respective edit interfaces.

 

Characters

If you have been using Heroes (or want to start using it) to create and manage characters that live in your world, you can use the page in the sidebar menu (under the world drop-down) to get a list of them a switch between them. Take a look at the Guide to character creation and Guide to character interaction for more information!  

Notebook

You can access the Notebook from the top blue menu bar, and you can use it to quickly jot down ideas that you have but that you don't know how to make them fit in your world. You can attach an image to them and create relations between them in a parent-child structure, just like you would do in other note-taking apps such as OneNote. Only you can see your notes, so using it is also a great way to develop ideas that are not mature enough for public display.  

Statblocks

This is specially useful if you are using an RPG system for your world, but it's a handy feature even if you are not, since the same feature can be used for other non-RPG formatting such as tables or embeds. Take a look at the Guide to Sheets.  

Heroes

Heroes is the campaign manager and social media network for your characters in World Anvil. To access the campaign manager, just click on the Create a campaign button you will find in your world's dashboard. See the Introduction to Heroes for more details.  

The community page

A big part of World Anvil is its community, which mainly lives on Discord but is also important in the site itself. This page is pretty straightforward, and displays the following elements:
  • Featured article: it appears at the top. It's an article selected every day by the Enchanter team.
  • Most liked articles in the last 3 days.
  • Most viewed articles in the last 3 days.
  • Newest articles created in any (public) world.
If you are in need of inspiration, this page is an amazing resource to see what your fellow worldbuilders are working on!

FAQ

AARRGGHHH MY EYES!! Don't worry, we've got a dark theme! Go to your interface settings (click on your profile picture at the top right corner for the link) and choose Villains as a theme. Guides are made with the light theme (called Heroes) because it's default one, but the layout is the same, only colors are different.   Is a world really a world? Your "worlds" in World Anvil can contain multiple actual worlds (which is pretty common for SciFi settings, for example).   How do I delete X? Delete buttons are generally found in the configuration page (in the case of world and campaigns) or the edit page (articles, images, maps, etc.).   Where is the template for X? Sometimes, you want to create something that doesn't exactly fit one of the predefined templates. you have to keep in mind that templates are guidelines, not rules. Take a look at different templates and think which is the template with text fields that fit the article you want to create better.   Why did all my content disappear or go wonky? Sometimes, after you save an article and view it from the presentation view, everything looks weird. If that has happened to you, check for unclosed tags. For example, if you have a [row], make sure that you close it with [/row] at the end of the row!   Is there a way to see what articles link to a specific article? Not at the moment!   If I change the title of an Article, do links to that Article need to be fixed? The links will still work, but the old title will be displayed in the links instead of the new one.   Can I export my work? You will find an "Export article" box in every article's edit page (bottom of the sidebar). This will export the article to PDF format in a printer-friendly version.   How can I make an entire article or world private?
rank-journeyman
If you are a Guild member, go to your article's Access tab (or to your World's configuration) and make sure that the Privacy setting is set to Private.
  How do I add a subscriber of a co-author to my world?
rank-journeyman
Check the following guides: Guide to Subscribers and Guide to Authors.
  I found a bug or I miss a feature and I think it should be added! Great! Go to the general Help page of World Anvil (accessible from the footer of any page) and click the "Report a bug" or "Suggest a feature". You will probably need to create a new account to the bug-tracking system, since it uses an external platform (Jira)   This is too basic, I want more information about something! Check out the following list of guides in this Codex! You can also join our Discord server, where we have a dedicated help channel  


Comments

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16 Jul, 2019 07:10

What are the two or three square icons on the bottom right of a page? I do not get an <alt name> when I hover over them.

16 Jul, 2019 15:55

Those are some very useful shortcut buttons! The green one ("power hammer") is a quick-access menu with links to each article template plus different world interfaces, as well as a world switch (useful if you have multiple worlds).   The purple one (the inkwell) lets you create articles on the fly. Of course, it's not designed to be used as a full editor, so there's only text boxes for the title, vignette, privacy status, article template and category. However, it's very handy for when you are editing an article an need to quickly jot down something into a new article. When you click the save button of the pop-up editor, you will be able to copy a bbcode link to the newly-created article in case you need to insert it to your current main editor. It will also add the article to the to-do list.   Finally, the blue button (potion vial) appears only in the world edit interfaces and lets you quickly upload images (multiple at once) using a drag-and-drop system. When you click the upload button, you will be able to copy their BBCode ID blocks from the pop-up window. It's very useful to upload art while you're working on an article without interrupting your workflow!   Hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you've got any other questions.

21 Jul, 2019 16:21

Thank you for your assistance.