Organizing worldbuilding is critical, whether you’re writing a novel series, running a DnD game, or anything else. Just like you don’t want a chaotic pile of papers, or a computer desktop full of icons, you don’t want all your worldbuilding floating wild and free! Organized worldbuilding helps you find your work quickly and easily. That’s why, on World Anvil, you should use Categories to organize your work.
This article is part of a series to help you get started worldbuilding with World Anvil! If you’re new to worldbuilding, we recommend you get started with the Meta Document. That will give you a foundation and help you develop your world in worldbuilding articles. The come back here to learn how to organize worldbuilding with Categories!
How to organize your worldbuilding with categories
On World Anvil, categories serve two needs. They help you organize your private worldbuilding, and they also form the table of contents for your world in the View mode. Only categories you’ve chosen to make public will be visible to others, but all of your categories will be visible to you.
In your first world (and optionally in your next worlds) on World Anvil, we auto-create some categories. This gives you an idea of how you can use them. You can see these when you view your world, or in your Articles & Categories section on the left-hand side.
The image above shows the Articles and Categories interface, as it will appear when your world is first set up. I’ve put a red square around the Categories section. If you’re a writer (or you didn’t select an RPG system during the creation of your world) you won’t see the Player Handbook or Campaigns categories, but the rest should look similar.
We’ll also automatically add some articles to your world – you can see those in the middle section of the image above, under Recently Updated Articles. Take a look at them, they’re full of information to help you navigate World Anvil easily! Once you’ve read them, just delete them from your world. You can always find more help on the Codex, the Youtube Channel, and the Discord.
If you’ve already created some articles on World Anvil, the most recently updated ones will also appear in the central section. By clicking “lists” on the right, you can select different lists of articles you’d like to view. Your articles are probably all under the Uncategorized Articles list. Drag and drop them into your chosen category on the left. You should aim to have no more than twenty articles in a category.
You can find the full video guide to World Anvil’s Articles and Categories interface here, or watch below. Rather read than watch? Check out our full written World Anvil tutorial for Articles and Categories.
Which categories do you need for your world?
Your world setting is special. Every world setting is. That means it has different priorities… and you need different categories to organize it! Categories are something you’ll come back to as your world grows, so don’t feel like it has to be perfect right away. We’ve tried to create categories that most world settings need to get started, but you should reorganize the starting categories to your liking.
- If (for example) schools of magic are the most important thing in your world, you might want to add a special category just for that! Subcategories might include School History & Traditions, Locations (in the School Grounds), Professors, and Students!
- For example, if your setting takes place across a whole solar system, you might rename “World Atlas” to “The Solar System”.
- Perhaps there are no Deities or Religions in your sci-fi setting? In that case, you won’t need that category.
Click on a category, and its edit panel will appear on the right. You can edit and delete it from there. Add new categories with the text box underneath the category list, and drag-and-drop them into the position you want. Easy peasy!
Nesting articles beneath articles
You might have small, spin-off articles from a main article. In that case, you can nest them underneath their main article, rather than putting them straight in the category. For example, variations of a spell might go beneath a main Spell article. Minor NPCs might go underneath the Settlement article where they live.
The Staging Area: Competitions, Meta-articles, and more!
There are many reasons you might choose to put articles in the Staging Area.
- Articles that are not finished yet
- Ideas still in their formative stages
- Competition entries!
Wait, competitions? Yes, World Anvil runs a lot of competitions and challenges (see our 2021 challenge roster here!) – worldbuilding, story writing, adventure creation, mapmaking, and more! You can win prizes and badges for your profile, but mainly they’re there to inspire and support your creativity. The Staging Area is a great place to store those entries until you’re ready to integrate them into your wider world.
There’s also a Notebook on World Anvil. You can find that at the bottom of the left-hand menu bar. This can be another good place to write ideas, sketch out meta information, and more. It’s a matter of choice how you prefer to do it.
What shall I do next?
This article is part of the Get Started on World Anvil series. If you’ve already filled in your meta, and got to grips with making categories, why not get started with a Map? Or check out the full series:
Not yet on World Anvil? Create your free account here! And if you’re looking for more help, check out the full written help guides, the Discord community, and the Youtube channel.