Highland 2 Test

Getting Started with Highland 2

by Brian Souza

July 10

For Highland 2, we’ve taken the tools we built for writing screenplays and made them work for almost every kind of document you write:

  • Blog posts
  • Reports
  • Articles
  • Treatments
  • Novels

Highland 2 is a full-fledged Markdown editor, which gives it a whole new set of superpowers.

Why Markdown rocks

Developed in 2004, Markdown has become the behind-the-scenes standard for writing on the web. With Highland 2, it’s easy to use Markdown for everything, including documents you intend to print or send as PDFs.

If you’ve used Highland to write a screenplay, Markdown will look and feel very familiar. In fact, Markdown and Fountain are cousins, and use the same syntax for most things. You can use bold to emphasize a point, or put something in italics for a subtle effect.

Markdown makes it easy to quote something:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  • Leonardo da Vinci (attributed)

Lists couldn’t be simpler:

  • Just start lines with an asterisk
  • Or a dash -
  • Or even a plus +

Lists can even number themselves:

  1. The first item
  2. A second point
  3. The third in the sequence

Markdown was made for the internet. Highland 2 supports both types of Markdown links:

Inline links let you direct readers to the Scottish Highlands by simply appending the URL in parentheses. They’re quick and dirty.

Alternatively, you can use reference links to keep the messy URL out of the body of your text. This way, you can link to an article on Highlander without cluttering up your paragraph. Reference links are especially useful if you’re linking to a specific URL several times in a document.

Making it look nice

Just because you write in plain text doesn’t mean you’re stuck with plain documents. Highland 2 makes Markdown beautiful with a growing collection of templates. To choose one, click the name in the header. (For example, this Getting Started document is in “Modern Standard.”)

You can see all of your options by switching from Edit to Preview. (Click the page icon at the top of the window, or choose Go to Preview from the View menu, or hit ⌘E.)

In Preview, you see exactly what you’d get if you printed or exported a PDF.

Beyond the basics

Highland 2 carries over some of its favorite Fountain tricks to Markdown.


In Fountain, headers are hidden. In Markdown, headers become headlines. Each additional # knocks the headline down one level smaller.

Major headline




Page breaks

You can manually force a page break by using three or more equal signs on a line by themselves: ===


Synopses and Notes

You can leave unprinted notes for yourself by wrapping the note in double brackets.

[[Notes like this are great for reminders.]]

You can also use synopses by starting a line with a single equal sign to help give context to what you’re writing.

= This is an example of a synopsis.


To center something, wrap the line > like this <.

This line is centered <

Or align it to the right >


You can mark text as code by wrapping it in backticks. Code blocks will ignore other formatting commands, so you can use it to print markup directly in the document.

this line won’t be formatted when printed or exported, even this **bold** word

Headers and Footers

{{HEADER: %###, page %p of %pp}}

You can set headers and footers for your documents by using {{HEADER: }} or {{FOOTER: }} directives. Along with text, you can add special commands like %p to print the current page number, or %pp for all pages. You can even include the text of the closest header, using %# or %## (with the number of #s equal to the level of the header you want to display. Putting it all together, {{HEADER: %###, page %p of %pp}} prints “Synopses and Notes, page 4 of 6” at the top of the page, because the Sprints sub-headline is the closest to the top of the page.

You can change the header or footer at any time, taking effect from that page forward. To hide a header or footer, just use {{HEADER: %none}} or {{FOOTER: %none}}.

Side-by-side Lists

To display a two-column side-by-side list (like a cast list or a list of terms and definitions) use :: between the two columns.

1 :: One
2 :: Two
3 :: Three

You can omit text from one side of the list to keep adding more items, like this:

Patrol Leader :: Connor
Patrol Members :: Arlo
:: Indra
:: Wu
:: Julie
:: Jonas


For more advanced layout, Highland supports Markdown tables. Each cell of the table is wrapped by pipe (|) characters.

|Header|Header 2|Header 3|
| Row 1 | Row 1 | Row 1 |

Spaces next to the pipe characters are ignored, allowing you to format line up your columns without affecting how the table prints.

|Header|Header 2|Header 3|
| Row 1    | Row 1      | Row 1      |

You can even use Highland’s alignment markup in table cells.

|Header|Header 2|Header 3|
| Left     | > Center < | Right >    |

{{HEADER: %none}} [[This command turns off the headers]]

Using the sidebar

Highland 2 packs a lot of power into the sidebar on the left. You can show or hide the sidebar from the View menu, or by using the shortcuts ⌘1 through ⌘5.

The Navigator

The first panel shows the Navigator, which provides a roadmap of your document with all your headers and notes. You can choose exactly what you want to see in the sidebar by clicking the eye menu at the bottom.

The Bin

The second panel is the Bin. Think of it as a shelf where you can drop little bits of text you want to hold onto. It’s especially useful during editing when you want to rearrange a document.


The third panel is Goals/Statistics. It shows the document’s word count, page count and reading time. You can set your word count goal by clicking “Set Goal.”


The fourth panel is Assets. As you include files and images in your document, Highland adds them to your Assets panel. You can quickly reuse assets by dragging them into your document. Highland automatically creates the correct syntax for images or files.


The fifth panel is Scratchpad. It’s for keeping information about the document, such as instructions for the editor.


On the far right of the Editor’s toolbar is the option to start a write sprint -- a timed writing session. Just choose how long you want to sprint for and hit start. Highland will keep track of time for you, and alert you when your sprint is up.


Highland can export in a range of formats, from Fountain to Final Draft. For exporting to Microsoft Word, use RTF. You’ll find all your choices under File > Export To.

Learning More

This document only scratches the surface of Highland 2’s features. To learn more, visit the Knowledge Base on our site:


[[Above is a reference link. It can appear anywhere in the document, but it is customary to keep them all at the bottom.]]