Setting up your doc

Get started with your first Coda doc using best practices

Updated over a week ago

When should I use Coda?

While you can use Coda as a simple writing surface, we find our users get even more out of it when they use it to manage data. For this purpose, you can use Coda anytime you'd pick up a spreadsheet.

These items can take many forms - perhaps they're a list of things to-do by a team; or a list of customers to reach out to and manage; or a list of candidates whom you may want to hire. 

Coda is a very flexible product, but when the sky's the limit, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start. Here's 5 quick steps to get you up and running:

Step 1: Just start typing 

Coda's writing canvas is fast and flexible, so you can use your Coda doc just like any other document - as a simple, clear writing surface. You can bold, italicize, underline, and highlight text just the way you would on any other surface. 

Many people begin by just tying directly in the canvas of the first page, and building out content for their use-case. For a writing-only use-case, you may end up typing interview notes, brainstorming, research content, etc.

When you've moved beyond raw brainstorming with freeform text or a bulleted list, it's time to add a Table to your Coda doc.

Step 2: Add data 

To start, begin by inserting a table into the canvas or copy and pasting from an existing spreadsheet. . Then, either begin typing in the first column to set up your Table schema. 

With your data in a Table, you can now add columns to edit or calculate based your data. Coda has a wide array of formulas, including most everything you'd find in competing spreadsheet products like Microsoft Excel, as well as formulas that allow you to pull in data from the web, like Google Maps data. 

Coda's formula language allows you to manipulate and calculate data as you would in Excel, with some key differences: you can use named objects to refer to columns, instead of using letters; and you can use a dot operator instead of needing to nest formulas within one another. 

Step 3: Add views of your data

Next you'll want to add Views of your data. It's common for Tables in Coda to have more than one view elsewhere in the document. Maybe you want each page to show each teammate's to-dos by person; or maybe you want to split your CRM list by geography in different pages. You can add a View of a table to have the perfect view for every meeting, team, or person.

Step 4: Add more Pages and Subpages

You'll likely start planning how your doc is organized at this point, by creating separate pages and subpages. A common pages structure is: Welcome, Data, Views of Data, Notes, Misc - but every Coda doc is different so feel free to add your own style. We've found for our Project Briefs, sometimes people add their own pages or subpages so they can see the data in their particular way (or take their own notes.)

As your document grows, you may start adding subpages underneath your existing top-level pages, or creating pages to organize existing collections as subpages.

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