Formats

jrnl supports a variety of alternate formats. These can be used to display your journal in a different manner than the jrnl default, and can even be used to pipe data from your journal for use in another program to create reports, or do whatever you want with your jrnl data.

Any of these formats can be used with a search (e.g. jrnl -contains "lorem ipsum" --format json) to display the results of that search in the given format, or can be used alone (e.g. jrnl --format json) to display all entries from the selected journal.

This page shows examples of all the built-in formats, but since jrnl supports adding more formats through plugins, you may have more available on your system. Please see jrnl --help for a list of which formats are available on your system.

Any of these formats can be used interchangeably, and are only grouped into "display", "data", and "report" formats below for convenience.

Display Formats

These formats are mainly intended for displaying your journal in the terminal. Even so, they can still be used in the same way as any other format (like written to a file, if you choose).

Pretty

jrnl --format pretty
# or
jrnl -1 # any search

This is the default format in jrnl. If no --format is given, pretty will be used.

It displays the timestamp of each entry formatted to by the user config followed by the title on the same line. Then the body of the entry is shown below.

This format is configurable through these values from your config file (see Advanced Usage for more details):

  • colors
    • body
    • date
    • tags
    • title
  • indent_character
  • linewrap
  • timeformat

Example output:

2020-06-28 18:22 This is the first sample entry
| This is the sample body text of the first sample entry.

2020-07-01 20:00 This is the second sample entry
| This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but
| this one has a @tag.

2020-07-02 09:00 This is the third sample entry
| This is the sample body text of the third sample entry.

Short

jrnl --format short
# or
jrnl --short

This will shorten entries to display only the date and title. It is essentially the pretty format but without the body of each entry. This can be useful if you have long journal entries and only want to see a list of entries that match your search.

Example output:

2020-06-28 18:22 This is the first sample entry
2020-07-01 20:00 This is the second sample entry
2020-07-02 09:00 This is the third sample entry

Fancy (or Boxed)

jrnl --format fancy
# or
jrnl --format boxed

This format outlines each entry with a border. This makes it much easier to tell where each entry starts and ends. It's an example of how free-form the formats can be, and also just looks kinda ~~fancy~~, if you're into that kind of thing.

Example output:

┎──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────╮2020-06-28 18:22
┃ This is the first sample entry                                       ╘═══════════════╕
┠╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌┤
┃ This is the sample body text of the first sample entry.                              │
┖──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘
┎──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────╮2020-07-01 20:00
┃ This is the second sample entry                                      ╘═══════════════╕
┠╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌┤
┃ This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but this one has a @tag.    │
┖──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘
┎──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────╮2020-07-02 09:00
┃ This is the third sample entry                                       ╘═══════════════╕
┠╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌╌┤
┃ This is the sample body text of the third sample entry.                              │
┖──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

Data Formats

These formats are mainly intended for piping or exporting your journal to other programs. Even so, they can still be used in the same way as any other format (like written to a file, or displayed in your terminal, if you want).

JSON

jrnl --format json

JSON is a very handy format used by many programs and has support in nearly every programming language. There are many things you could do with JSON data. Maybe you could use jq (project page) to filter through the fields in your journal. Like this:

$ j -3 --format json | jq '.entries[].date'                                                                                                                            jrnl-GFqVlfgP-py3.8 
"2020-06-28"
"2020-07-01"
"2020-07-02"

Or why not create a beautiful timeline of your journal?

Example output:

{
  "tags": {
    "@tag": 1
  },
  "entries": [
    {
      "title": "This is the first sample entry",
      "body": "This is the sample body text of the first sample entry.",
      "date": "2020-06-28",
      "time": "18:22",
      "tags": [],
      "starred": false
    },
    {
      "title": "This is the second sample entry",
      "body": "This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but this one has a @tag.",
      "date": "2020-07-01",
      "time": "20:00",
      "tags": [
        "@tag"
      ],
      "starred": false
    },
    {
      "title": "This is the third sample entry",
      "body": "This is the sample body text of the third sample entry.",
      "date": "2020-07-02",
      "time": "09:00",
      "tags": [],
      "starred": false
    }
  ]
}

Markdown

jrnl --format markdown
# or
jrnl --format md

Markdown is a simple markup language that is human readable and can be used to be rendered to other formats (html, pdf). jrnl's README for example is formatted in markdown, then Github adds some formatting to make it look nice.

The markdown format groups entries by date (first by year, then by month), and adds header markings as needed (e.g. #, ##, etc). If you already have markdown header markings in your journal, they will be incremented as necessary to make them fit under these new headers (i.e. # will become ##).

This format can be very useful, for example, to export a journal to a program that converts markdown to html to make a website or a blog from your journal.

Example output:

# 2020

## June

### 2020-06-28 18:22 This is the first sample entry

This is the sample body text of the first sample entry.

## July

### 2020-07-01 20:00 This is the second sample entry

This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but this one has a @tag.

### 2020-07-02 09:00 This is the third sample entry

This is the sample body text of the third sample entry.

Plain Text

jrnl --format text
# or
jrnl --format txt

This outputs your journal in the same plain-text format that jrnl uses to store your journal on disk. This format is particularly useful for importing and exporting journals within jrnl.

You can use it, for example, to move entries from one journal to another, or to create a new journal with search results from another journal.

Example output:

[2020-06-28 18:22] This is the first sample entry
This is the sample body text of the first sample entry.

[2020-07-01 20:00] This is the second sample entry
This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but this one has a @tag.

[2020-07-02 09:00] This is the third sample entry
This is the sample body text of the third sample entry.

XML

jrnl --format xml

This outputs your journal into XML format. XML is a commonly used data format and is supported by many programs and programming languages.

Example output:

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<journal>
        <entries>
                <entry date="2020-06-28T18:22:00" starred="">This is the first sample entry This is the sample body text of the first sample entry.</entry>
                <entry date="2020-07-01T20:00:00" starred="">
                        <tag name="@tag"/>
                        This is the second sample entry This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but this one has a @tag.
                </entry>
                <entry date="2020-07-02T09:00:00" starred="">*This is the third sample entry, and is starred This is the sample body text of the third sample entry.</entry>
        </entries>
        <tags>
                <tag name="@tag">1</tag>
        </tags>
</journal>

YAML

jrnl --format yaml --file 'my_directory/'

This outputs your journal into YAML format. YAML is a commonly used data format and is supported by many programs and programming languages. Exporting to directories is the only supported YAML export option and each entry will be written to a separate file.

Example file:

title: This is the second sample entry
date: 2020-07-01 20:00
starred: False
tags: tag

This is the sample body text of the second sample entry, but this one has a @tag.

Report formats

Since formats use your journal data and display it in different ways, they can also be used to create reports.

Tags

jrnl --format tags
# or
jrnl --tags

This format is a simple example of how formats can be used to create reports. It displays each tag, and a count of how many entries in which tag appears in your journal (or in the search results), sorted by most frequent.

Example output:

@one                 : 32
@two                 : 17
@three               : 4

Options

Exporting with --file

Example: jrnl --format json --file /some/path/to/a/file.txt

By default, jrnl will output entries to your terminal. But if you provide --file along with a filename, the same output that would have been to your terminal will be written to the file instead. This is the same as piping the output to a file.

So, in bash for example, the following two statements are equivalent:

jrnl --format json --file myjournal.json
jrnl --format json > myjournal.json

Exporting to directories

If the --file argument is a directory, jrnl will export each entry into an individual file:

jrnl --format yaml --file my_entries/

The contents of my_entries/ will then look like this:

my_entries/
|- 2013_06_03_a-beautiful-day.yaml
|- 2013_06_07_dinner-with-gabriel.yaml
|- ...