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Org-mode logo
Original author(s) Carsten Dominik
Developer(s) Carsten Dominik et al.
Stable release
9.0.1 / November 19, 2016; 3 months ago (2016-11-19)[1]
Written in Emacs lisp
Type Personal information management, Notetaking, Outlining, Literate programming
License GPL

Org-mode (also: Org mode;[2] /ˈɔːrɡ md/) is an editing and organizing mode for notes, planning, and authoring in the free software text editor Emacs. The name is used to encompass plain text files ("org files") that include simple marks to indicate levels of a hierarchy (which could be the outline of an essay, a topic list with subtopics, nested computer code, ...), and an editor with functions that can read the markup and manipulate hierarchy elements (expand/hide elements, move blocks of elements, check off to-do list items, ...).

Org-mode was created by Carsten Dominik in 2003, originally to organize his life and work,[3] and since the first release numerous users and developers have contributed to this free software package,[4] Emacs includes Org-mode[5] as a major mode. Bastien Guerry is the current maintainer, in cooperation with an active development community.[6] Since its success in EMACS, some other systems have also begun providing functions to work with org files.


The Org-mode home page explains that "at its core, Org-mode is a simple outliner for note-taking and list management"[7] The Org system author Carsten Dominik explains that "Org-mode does outlining, note-taking, hyperlinks, spreadsheets, TODO lists, project planning, GTD, HTML and LaTeX authoring, all with plain text files in Emacs."[8]

The Org system is based on plain text files with a simple markup, which makes the files very portable. The Linux Information Project explains that "Plain text is supported by nearly every application program on every operating system".[9]

The system includes a lightweight markup language for plain text files (similar in function to Markdown, reStructuredText, Textile, etc., with a different implementation), allowing lines or sections of plain text to be hierarchically divided, tagged, linked, and so on.


This section gives some sample uses for the hierarchical display and editing of plain text.

  • To-do lists often have subtasks, and so lend themselves to a hierarchical system. Org-mode facilitates this by allowing items to be given tags and properties such as priorities and deadlines, subdivided into simple steps (nested sub-to-dos and/or checklists), and given tags and properties. An agenda for the items to be done this week or day can then be automatically generated from date tags.[10]
A text file showing a tree in emacs org-mode
The same org file shown in overview in emacs org-mode


Org-mode has some features to export to other formats, and other systems have some features to handle org-mode formats. Further, a full-featured text editor may have functions to handle wikis, personal contacts, email, calendars, and so on; because org-mode is simply plain text, these features could be integrated into org-mode documents as well.

From org-mode, add-on packages export to other markup format such as MediaWiki (org-export-generic, org-export), to flashcard learning systems implementing SuperMemo's algorithms (org-drill, org-learn).[12]

Outside of org-mode editors, org markup is supported by the GitHub code repository,[13] the JIRA issue tracker,[14] Pandoc, and others.

Some of the systems that handle org files include:

  • Mobile apps:[15]
    • MobileOrg for iOS.
    • MobileOrg for Android.
    • MobileOrgNG for Android.
    • Orgzly for Android.
  • The Vim text editor, via plugins:[16]
    • VimOrganizer - An Emacs Org-mode clone for Vim.
    • vim-orgmode - Text outlining and task management for Vim based on Emacs Org-mode.
    • VOoM - Outliner including an Org markup mode.
    • vxfold.vim - Fold cycling similar to Emacs Org-mode.
  • Sublime Text editor, with Org syntax and features using its orgmode plugin.[17]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Org mode for Emacs – Your Life in Plain Text". OrgMode team. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  2. ^ Gmane: Org, Org-mode, Orgmode, Org Mode - Carsten Dominik: Org, the system; Org-mode, the major mode
  3. ^ Dominik, Carsten, Emacs Org-mode: Organizing a Scientist's Life and Work (abstract and video), Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research 
  4. ^ Org Mode Manual: History and acknowledgments, Free Software Foundation 
  5. ^ Corbet, Jonathan (2006), "Pre-testing Emacs 22", 
  6. ^ Org mode for Emacs – Community 
  7. ^ O'Toole, David, Org tutorial 
  8. ^ Dominik, Carsten, Technical description in 24 words 
  9. ^ The Linux Information Project: What is plain text?
  10. ^ Chavan, Abhijeet (2007), "Get Organized with Emacs Org-mode", Linux Journal 
  11. ^ Chua, Sacha, Outlining Your Notes with Org 
  12. ^ Org-mode Contributed Packages, and many other hierarchical or list-oriented formats.
  13. ^ GitHub Markup 
  14. ^ Bao, Haojun, org-jira 
  15. ^ Org mobile apps: MobileOrg for iOS, MobileOrg for Android, MobileOrgNG for Android, Orgzly for Android
  16. ^ Vim plugins for Org-mode functionality: VimOrganizer, vim-orgmode, VOoM, vxfold.vim
  17. ^ Magnusson, Daniel, orgmode 


Journal articles[edit]