Add and update content in a notebook

Abstract Notebooks is a tool for designers to capture and present their work and establish design decisions. You can add context for stakeholders with the built-in text editor, and you can also bring design content directly into a notebook with our Figma and Sketch integrations.

Users with a contributor seat can add, change, and delete content in any notebook to which they have access. 

Notebooks inherit the access levels of the project where they are currently stored. Thus, notebooks in a public project are available to all users in the organization while notebooks in private projects are only available to users who have been granted access to the private project.

Navigate to a notebook

You can add and update most content in a notebook directly in the browser from the Abstract web app. Use the Abstract Notebooks plugins for Figma and Sketch to add content, like artboards, frames, and symbols, directly from your design tool.

  1. In the left side navigation, click Notebooks.
  2. Click the name of the notebook you want to work in.

Add or update text

Text can be added anywhere within a notebook, and can be edited or formatted directly.

  • Click anywhere in the notebook and begin typing to add new context around the designs.
  • Click on any existing text to change or remove it.

Text formatting menu. Options: bold, italic, strikethrough, hyperlink, heading 1, heading 2, heading 3, bulleted list, numbered list, blockquote, and code.

Format text

There are three ways to format text:

  • Highlight the text you want to format and use the format bar
  • Use keyboard shortcuts
  • Use Markdown

You can also pre-format heading text, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and blockquotes by clicking any empty area in a notebook to reveal and select an option from the bottom formatting bar.

Formatting options include: 

Format Keyboard Shortcut Markdown
     

Bold

⌘+B, Ctrl+B **text**, __text__

Italic

⌘+I, Ctrl+I *text*, _text_

Underline

⌘+U, Ctrl+U  

Strikethrough

  ~text~

Link

⌘+K, Ctrl+K [link title](url)

Heading level 1

  # SPACE

Heading level 2

  ## SPACE

Heading level 3

  ### SPACE

Bulleted list

- SPACE - SPACE

Numbered list

1. SPACE 1. SPACE

Blockquote

  > SPACE

Code block

  `text`

Add public link previews

Links added prior to October 11, 2021 will not show previews. If you you want previews for these links, copy them and paste them back into your notebook.

The work around design has a lot of moving parts: whiteboards, kanban cards, videos, prototypes, and of course the all-important reaction gif. To pull it all together, drop previews to these assets in your notebooks.

Public link previews work for over 1,900 services, including:

To add a public link preview, just paste the URL to your content into your notebook. If it's public and from one of the supported services, you'll get a preview! If it's private or not from a supported service, you'll still get a working URL that your team can use to go to the content.

Not sure whether your link is public? If you don't have to log into the site to get the link, it's public. If you do have to log in to the site to get the link, check your tool's sharing settings to see whether the link is public. Even if the link is private, many tools provide the option to generate a public link. Check your tool's documentation for more information.

Add images

There are three ways to insert images in a notebook: you can use the image icon, drag and drop from your computer, or paste from your clipboard.

Use the image icon

You can insert images in a notebook by clicking in an empty area of the notebook to reveal the bottom formatting bar. Click on the image icon in the bottom bar to open a file selection window.

Notebook formatting menu with Add Image icon highlighted. Other options are Add Table, Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, bulleted list, numbered list, blockquote, and Add Divider.

Drag and drop from your computer

You can also insert images by dragging and dropping a file from your computer onto the notebook’s page.

  1. Select an image file from your device storage. (.JPG, .PNG, .BMP or .GIF)
  2. Drag the image over the notebooks page until you see a blue line. This is where the image will appear when you release the mouse button.
  3. Move the mouse around the screen to move the blue line. When you're happy with the location, release the mouse button to insert the image.

Mouse pointed dragging an image in a notebook. A blue line shows where the image will appear when the mouse button is released.

Paste from your computer

If you’ve copied an image to your clipboard, you can paste that image into your notebook.

  • Copy: Select the image. Right click and choose Copy, or use a keyboard shortcut: ⌘+C, Ctrl+C
  • Paste: Place your cursor in the space where you want the image to appear. Right click and choose Paste, or use a keyboard shortcut: ⌘+V, Ctrl+V

Add tables

Sometimes your ideas need a little more structure. Whether you need to track a project, take structured notes, or organize data sets, tables are a great way to get your thoughts in order.

To add a table to a notebook:

  1. Navigate to the notebook where you want to add a table.
  2. Click to place your cursor where you want the table to appear.
  3. From the format menu, choose the Add a table icon.

A table appears in the notebook with three columns and three rows.

To add content, click anywhere in the table and start typing. You can format text as you normally would, or add images.

If needed, you can also add, select, and remove columns and rows. You can also change the cell colors.

Add columns and rows

When you first add a table to a notebook, it has three columns and three rows. From that foundation, you can customize it by adding more rows or columns, or removing some.

To add columns:

  1. Navigate to the notebook with the table where you want to add columns.
  2. Hover your mouse over the thin top bar where you want to add a column:
  3. To add a column to the left, hover over the left side of the thin top bar.
  4. To add a column to the right, hover over the right side of the thin top bar.
  5. Click the Add icon.

Mouse point hovering over the left side of thin top bar on the second column of a table. The + icon appears between the first and second columns. When you click the + icon, Notebooks adds a column between the two columns it spans.Mouse pointer hovering over the right side of the thin top bar on the first column of a table. The + icon appears between the first and second columns. When you click the + icon, Notebooks adds a column between the two columns it spans.

A column appears where you indicated. Repeat these steps until you have all the columns you need.

To add rows:

  1. Navigate to the table where you want to add rows.
  2. Hover your mouse over the far left bar where you want to add a row:
  3. To add a row above, hover over the top part of the thin far left bar.
  4. To add a row below, hover over the bottom part of the thin far left bar.
  5. Click the Add icon.

Mouse pointer hovering over the top part the thin far left bar on the second row of a table. The + icon appears between the first and second rows. When you click the + icon, Notebooks adds a row between the two rows it spans.Mouse pointer hovering over the bottom part the thin far left bar on the first row of a table. The + icon appears between the first and second rows. When you click the + icon, Notebooks adds a row between the two rows it spans.

A row appears where you indicated. Repeat these steps until you have all the rows you need.

Select cells

You can select a series of cells or an entire row or column to copy the content or make changes.

  • To select an entire row, click the the thin bar at the far left of the row.
  • To select an entire column, click the think bar at the top of the column.
  • To select multiple cells, click and drag over the cells you want to select.
  • To select a single cell and get the table formatting menu, triple click the cell.

Notebooks removes the column or row you selected, including all the content it contained.

To remove an entire table, click the small square at the top left of the table and press the Delete key on your keyboard.

Remove columns and rows

To remove a column or row:

  • Navigate to the table where you want to delete cells.
  • Click the thin bar at the top of the column or at the far left of the row.
  • Click the Remove icon.

Notebooks removes the column or row you selected, including all the content it contained.

To remove an entire table, click the small square at the top left of the table and press the Delete key on your keyboard.

Change cell color

Colors help you visually link related items and skim complicated sets of data. Change the cell colors to organize your tables and make them easier to digest.

To change the cell color of a table cell:

  1. Navigate to the table where you want to change the cell color.
  2. Select the cells you want to change the color of. If you want to change the color of only one cell, triple click it.
  3. Click the Cell color icon.
  4. Choose the color from the color picker.

Notebook updates the background color for the cells you selected.

Add dividers

You can add horizontal lines to divide a notebook into separate areas and create visual organization. When you add a divider to a notebook, it appears where your cursor is located.

There are two ways to add a divider:

  • Type three dashes (---) on a blank line in a notebook.
  • Click an empty area in the notebook to reveal the bottom formatting bar, and select the Add divider icon

Notebook formatting menu with Add Divider icon highlighted. Other options are Add Image, Add Table, Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, bulleted list, numbered list, and blockquote.

Move content

Adding context around design isn't just about adding content — sometimes you need to rearrange the existing content. When the need arises, you can move content to a new place in the same notebook.

If you want to move content to another notebook, use copy/paste. Alternatively, you can also move an entire notebook to a different project.

To move a piece of content within your notebook:

  1. Navigate to the notebook where you want to move content.

  2. Highlight the text or find the image you want to move.

  3. Click and drag the content to the location where you want to place it. A blue line shows you where the content will drop. (Note: You can only drop content between paragraphs, not inside a paragraph.)

  4. Release the mouse when you're happy with location.

Add a review block

Requesting a review in a notebook allows you to collect approvals and change requests for your work. For more information, see Request a review of a notebook.

To add a review block to your notebook, click Request review under the notebook title.

Mouse pointer hovering over the Request Review button in the header of a notebook.

Add a decision block

Adding a decision in a notebook allows track milestones and record of decisions made. For more information, see Record decisions in Notebooks.

To add a decision block to your notebook, click Add decision under the notebook title.

Mouse pointer hovering over the Add Decision button in the header of a notebook.