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 | Feb 26, 2020
  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:
Codex - Getting Started - 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 (Liminal Chronicles 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 the blog entries. You can visit our blog at blog.worldanvil.com!     The right sidebar, highlighted in cyan, it shows progress for special events (like World Ember), upcoming streams and events, and how to listen to the podcast. Farther down in the right sidebar (as in the image below), it 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!

Codex - Getting Started - Dashboard - continue building.png

 

World edition

Highlighted in orange (in the image below), you see the menu for your world.  

Create Menu

The central part of the page has two 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. Is you created custom templates those will be listed at the top.
Codex - Getting Started - Create.png
(click for full-size screenshot)   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).
  • Challenge box: if there is an active community challenge, it will also appear in the sidebar. This screenshot was taken during World Ember 2019, so that's why it appears there.
  • 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.
 
Codex - Getting Started - Create - statblock.png
Highlighted in red, there is a similar tab 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).  
Codex - Getting Started - Create - other.png
Highlighted in purple, there is another tab to create special types of content, such as categories, maps, timelines, historical entries, and secrets.  

World menu

Codex - Getting Started - world menu.png
The world menu is displayed whenever you are browsing your world from the Authoring Panel. 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!
 

Explore

The Explorer is a feature that lets the author of a world quickly browse and edit its articles, maps, and timelines —all in one page. It features a full-body search bar, a tree-structured article list, a quick edit mode and more!
Guide to Explorer Mode
Generic article | Sep 3, 2020

View

Opens the presentation view of your world in another tab.

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.  

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.  

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 | Aug 22, 2020

A guide on how to use the different map features!

Timelines and Calendars

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 | May 6, 2020

Understanding the Time-Space Continuum in World Anvil

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 | Sep 12, 2020

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

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 | Aug 11, 2020

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

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!

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 11, 2020

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 23, 2020

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!

Player 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.

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 Author Panels.
 

Campaigns

This 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 new campaign button you will find in your world's dashboard. See the Introduction to Campaigns for more details.  

Character Profiles

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

rank-journeyman
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.  

Studio

Here you can create new article templates, map pins, or sheets and blocks. (if you are
rank-grandmaster
Grandmaster or higher. ) See Guide to Blocks, Guide to Block Templates, Guide to Maps. (The guide to article templates is coming soon.)

The community

Homepage

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!  

Stream

Lists updates for characters you follow or for a sampling of global characters.  

Challenges

A list of challenges from present to past for World Anvil members to participate in. The newest/active ones are listed at the top.  

Worlds you Followers

A list of worlds you follow. These worlds will post updates viewable by clicking the notifications (bell) icon.  

Your Reading List

Articles that you clicked on to add to your reading list. Great for saving things to read later or just plain cool stuff!  

Settings

Allows you to modify aspects for your account.
  • Interface and Accessibility: allows you to change the editor theme, style of editor (WYSIWYG (great for mostly text input) or Legacy (best for container heavy input).
  • Default Editor Mode: for the WYSIWYG editor - specifies which view you'll see first (Tags/Source or WYSIWYG/text).
  • Activated Advanced Select Dropdown: allows you to turn off the popup dropdown menu if your mobile device does not display the menu properly.
  • Activated Accessibility Features: allows you to chose whether to show the accessibility interface or not. (Great if you need larger text, more contrast, for your computer to read the page, etc.)

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 planets and solar systems (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. 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? This feature is for Master of the Guild and above ranks.
 
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.
 
Can I make an entire article or world private? This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks.
 
How do I add a subscriber or a co-author to my world? This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks.
 
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". Your World Anvil login details will NOT automatically work, and you'll need to create a new account with the third-party 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
 

Other guides



Comments

Author's Notes

Updates

2019/12/2 Updated graphics and text to match the new menu and create page layouts. (shyredfox)


Please Login in order to comment!
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.

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
21 Jul, 2019 16:21

Thank you for your assistance.

18 May, 2020 03:30

This Getting Started Guide has two FAQ questions that look to be missing their closing square bracket on the IMG tag. Both are listed below. How can I make an entire article or world private?

[tooltip:This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks][img:386947
How do I add a subscriber of a co-author to my world?
 
[tooltip:This feature is for Journeymen of the Guild and above ranks][img:386947

18 May, 2020 03:35

Thanks for the catch!

Admin of the World Anvil Codex & Discord | Director of Ethnis | My Ko-Fi | My Twitter
18 May, 2020 04:05

No problem. The FAQ for This is too basic, I want more information about something! should also include a link to the Help Page for the Discord invite (or a direct link to the Discord invite, depends on how many locations you want to manage the invite link).

17 Jun, 2020 08:32

Is there a way to copy an article or secret for a secondary world on the same account? Like for example if I write up a whole article with secrets in one world, is there any way to copy, not just move entirely, to another world so that both worlds have said articles and/or secrets?

17 Jun, 2020 17:15

Not at this time, no.

Admin of the World Anvil Codex & Discord | Director of Ethnis | My Ko-Fi | My Twitter
13 Jul, 2020 20:28

How do I export my world? I can't find the button in World Configuration. Thank you!

16 Jul, 2020 19:23

Exporting is a member feature, for a full list of features check here.

Admin of the World Anvil Codex & Discord | Director of Ethnis | My Ko-Fi | My Twitter
25 Jul, 2020 07:10

Hello, what happend to the sections that used to be a part of article editing i.e. culture, ecology, structure etc? Also, what happened to the save button?   Thanks,   Ryan

25 Jul, 2020 18:25

The site autosaves all changes now! :) To see the other fields, check under the vignette for the "Show Template Specific Prompts and Connections"

Admin of the World Anvil Codex & Discord | Director of Ethnis | My Ko-Fi | My Twitter
25 Jul, 2020 18:25

The site autosaves all changes now! :) To see the other fields, check under the vignette for the "Show Template Specific Prompts and Connections"

Admin of the World Anvil Codex & Discord | Director of Ethnis | My Ko-Fi | My Twitter
25 Jul, 2020 19:28

Wonderful, thank you!