What Is It?

Org Mode or org-mode is an Emacs mode that allows one to not only write notes but create an entire ecosystem around the text and data you enter into your org documents, more on that later. Mode mode utilizes the power of emacs' own language elisp to not only run efficient but be extendable, meaning org-mode can be whatever you make it to be as well.

Org can potentially replace the use of office suites by being an all-in-one customizable tool personalized to you and your workflow.

What Can It Do?

Text Input

Obviously it can input text, but it does so in a unique way as org documents are just plaintext and all the magic happens in the IDE interpreting that file. If you're familiar with Markdown or similar syntax then writing notes in org will feel familiar.


Org Mode has a power TODO system with an integrated calendar and agenda system that collects and organizes all instances of TODO tags and allows you to see them all in one place, so your org-agenda is the home base for seeing all tasks, notes, reminders, and even code snippets at a top-level view.

Setting up TODO tags on item is easy, you need to just add * TODO Your todo item


People seem to love the tables in org because they work like embedded excel documents rather than just markdown tables. You can have multiple tables in a single document, have their data be imported or evaluated from another file, and have them talk to each other to produce another table.

While that might seem overwhelming, the table system is a easy to use as excel when it comes to data input, it's when you get to the more advance things that it can feel more complex.

I use tables to organize things in my life such as finances, books, and general data input. It's quick and easy to use and can be export into a multitude of formats.


My personal favorite thing about org is it's export system as it allows you to export you documents as HTML, PDF, LaTeX, Powerpoint, etc. Creating a PDF for example is nice because you can define the styles in your Emacs settings much like you would a LaTeX document and then just start writing your org documents, but of course you can use the default styles if you don't care about how your exported PDF will look.

Documentation For Your Project

This is something that I feel can be overlooked when working with org in a work environment, even though org is powerful people often seem skeptical in including into codebases.

Org documents can allow a single source of truth for documenting your code, meaning, you wont have to create a wiki for your developers to use, rather it can be a single org-file within the project that has links to lines of code or whole files. Also, by doing this you could in theory also export to HTML or PDF and have a document people can easily view in their browsers users aren't using Emacs at your company.


I don't think Org Mode is for everyone, especially if you don't like Emacs, but if you are comfortable working in that environment then I encourage you to at least try it.

Org Mode has a lot more features than the ones mentioned about, not to mention the amount of extensions you can use with it, so I encourage you to refer to the Org Manual and look on GitHub for more on Org Mode and learn more reasons why it's great.

I use org for pretty much anything that requires writing or that needs to be added to my TODO as no other tool matches it's power, and since I do almost everything within Emacs it works out perfectly. If you do happen to start using org-mode I'd recommend you try it first for taking notes and slowly integrating new things you learn into your workflow and create a workflow that works best for you.

What got me into org-mode was this video featuring Harry Schwart at thoughtbot as it goes over what I feel are the most important aspects of Org-Mode + Emacs.