I’m using version 3.2.1, the current default format for Twine 2. Consult the full documentation for Harlowe for much more detail than I will cover in this post. I find the official documentation assumes some prior experience and background, rather than being a step-by-step guide.
The Harlowe toolbar gives you access to a number of features without having to know how to code them.
In past versions of Harlowe (and current versions with other story formats), a passage appears with a title, tag, and space for the passage text.
Formatting text with bold, italics, and strikethrough styles works like other text editing programs. You don’t have to remember the markup language, but it will appear that way in the passage.
If you want to change the overall look and feel of the whole story, it’s a little more complicated than just formatting a short passage of text. For example, the default styling for Harlowe is a black background with white text. I don’t personally like this, plus I think the blue links are hard to read. (WebAIM’s color contrast checker puts it at 4.33:1, so it fails for normal size text.)
I’d rather have a white background with black text so the links are more readable.
- Create a new passage. This passage doesn’t need to connect to any other passages.
- Add the title “Style” or something easy to identify.
- Select the Text and background color button on the toolbar.
- Change the text color and background. I used the default black for the text and a slightly off white for the background.
- Set the Affect to “The entire page.” This is what makes the change format the whole page instead of just a passage.
- Select Add.
- Remove the placeholder passage text if needed.
- Add the tag “header” to the passage. This tag adds the style to every passage in the story automatically. (Note: tags are case sensitive. “Header” is not the same as “header.”)
Text and background color options
Could you accomplish the same thing without using the toolbar? Yes! You could enter the same “enchant” code shown below to make these adjustments. However, if you aren’t used to using Twine, this format may be hard to remember. That’s what Harlowe tries to accomplish; making it easier to generate these codes without consulting the documentation each time.
More in Harlowe
The Harlowe toolbar also gives you access to features like advanced links, variables, and macros. These are more complex, but I plan to write more about these options in future posts.