As of 08/20/2021, multiple Compendium entries of the same name can exist in your Journal tab. To distinguish the entries, we mark all entries in your Journal tab with the associated source information, publisher icon, and book title abbreviation, if available. Read more about Journal Tab Expansion Sources.

The Journal is the third tab of the Sidebar. This feature allows GMs to create Characters and Handouts. The Journal serves as a central repository for all of your game's information. These items can be made private or shared with other players. Shared items can be viewed by players with access from this same tab.

Managing Character Sheets, Handouts, and Folders

In this tutorial, we go over the different ways to set up character sheets, how to make and share handouts with all of your players (or just one), and how to create and organize folders.


Character Journal entries are intended to represent either PCs, NPCs, or anything else that might take advantage of the various features Character Journals have, such as: Character Sheets, Linked Tokens, and Attributes and Abilities macros.

Adding Characters

Add a new Character by clicking on the + Add button and select Character from the dropdown menu.

You can also add a character by right-clicking an existing folder in the Journal tab and selecting Add Character from the Folder Options menu. Adding new Characters or Handouts using the right-click method places them directly into the right-clicked folder.

Regardless of how you create the Character entry, Roll20 will randomly generate a placeholder for the Character entry's Name.

A Character Entry uses this icon: x as the default thumbnail for itself on the Journal Tab. This thumbnail icon will change if you add your own image to the Character's Portrait.

Character Right-Click Options

While inside the Journal Tab, right-click the Character's Name to reveal the following options:

  • Show to Players: This will force the Character Window to open on your players' Roll20 client for them to view. If your players don't already have permissions assigned yet to view this entry, Roll20 will ask you to confirm whether you want to show the entry to everyone.

  • Archive Item: The Journal tab has an archival system, so you can store Character and Handout entries away when not needed for play. This can help with keeping your Journal tab organized. Archiving a Character will remove it from view in the Journal tab and place it in the Archive that is displayed at the bottom of the tab as soon as a single item is placed in it. Note that an archived Character still loads at game startup time, it is merely hidden from view. archiving Characters is not a strategy for reducing your game size. Pro users have the option of using the Transmogrifier to store unused characters in a separate game.

  • Delete Item: This will permanently remove the Character entry from the Journal Tab. This can't be undone, so Roll20 will ask for confirmation before initiating the deletion.

The Character Window

Click the Character entry's Name from the Journal Tab to open it.

The Character Window Header

At the left hand corner is the x Character Popout Button. Click this to pop this Character Window out into a new browser window. This can come in handy if you're a GM or Player who uses multiple monitors. Visit the My Settings page to set popout windows to automatic. Click the Show to Players button to reveal the Character to all players or click the "Edit" button to customize.

To the right of the Journal Popout Button is the entry's Character Name. This is the display name for this journal entry and what you will see if you wish to refer to it elsewhere in the game like a macro, Chat As, or Token Representation.

On the right hand side of the Character Window are the following row of four buttons:


  1. Show to Players Button: Clicking on this button behaves the same way as the earlier mentioned Journal Entry Right-Click Option Menu.

  2. Edit Button: Edit allows you to change various options for Character including Name, Token Image, Visibility in Player's Journals, and Player Editing of Characters, GM private notes, and Character Bio (visible in the Bio and Info Tab. More specific in-depth discussion on Edit Mode is discussed there.

    Note: Allow a Player to view, edit, and control a Character and Character Sheet, click the Edit button and add the Player or Players names to in Player's Journal and Can be Edited and Controlled by fields, finally click Save.

  3. |Zoom Options Button: Clicking on this button gives you ability to increase or decrease the zoom of all content within the Character Window. At default, the zoom is set at 100%. This affects the view of all tabs within this window.
  4. Close Window Button: Clicking on the X icon at the top right corner of the window will close it if you are in View Mode. If you are in Edit Mode, Clicking on the X button will revert you back to View Mode. 

Character Tabs

The Character Window will either have two or three tabs of content depending on whether your game is using a Character Sheet. They are listed in this order:

  1. Bio & Info Tab: This tab is where you edit the basics of the Character entry from Name, to its assigned Token, User Permissions, as well as a place to take PC and GM notes.

  2. Character Sheet (optional): If your game is using a community or Roll20 created Character Sheet, it will show up on this tab.

  3. Attributes & Abilities: This tab is where you can create custom attributes and macros to roll dice formulas from. (Note: If you're using a Character Sheet, there will already be Ability fields created to be used by the Sheet.)

The following sections will go over each tab in detail.

Bio & Info Tab

Technically, the Bio & Info Tab also houses all of the Character entry's settings. Many of these Journal settings are hidden when in View Mode. Clicking on the Edit Button will allow you to customize these settings.

  • Name: This will change the Character Name for this Entry.
  • In Player's Journals: By default, only the GM sees Characters in to the Journal Tab. To allow other Players to see the Character in their Journal Tab, add their names to the "In Player's Journals" field. Player names are only available once they've launched the game at least once. You can also choose "All Players" to allow everyone to view the Character. 

    Players who can view the Character will see the Name, Avatar, and any text typed in the Character's Bio & Info field only. They will not have access to the Character Sheet tab (if applicable) nor the Attributes and Abilities tab.
  • Can Be Edited & Controlled By: Adding players to "The Controlled By" field gives them the following permissions:
    • They will be able to choose the Character from the "Speak As" drop down menu in the Text Chat.
    • They will be able to edit the Character's Name, Avatar and Bio & Info text field of the Bio & Info Tab.
    • If the game uses a Character Sheet, they will have permission to view AND edit information on Character Sheet tab.
    • They will be able to control any Token set to Represent this Character. See Linking Characters and Tokens Together You can also choose "All Players" to allow everyone to control or edit the Character entry.
  • Tags: The Tags field allows you add Tags to the Character entry so that you can quickly find it later using the Search box at the top of the Journal tab on the Sidebar.
  • Duplicate: Using the Duplicate feature will create a duplicate of the current Character entry on the Journal tab. This can be useful when using a Character entry as a template for new Character entries.
  • Archive: This button behaves exactly as the Right Click Option in the Journal Tab. Archiving the Character will put it in long-term storage. Once you've archived at least one Character or Handout entry, an Archive icon will appear at the bottom of the Journal Tab.
  • Delete: Deleting the Character will permanently remove it from the Game. This cannot be undone!
  • Avatar: The Avatar is an image that represent this Character in the Journal listing (it replaces the default thumbnail) as well as the Chat interface. Drag and drop an image from your computer, use the Choose a file... Button to select the image from a file explorer, or drag and drop an image from the Art Library into the box. Once an image is added, you can remove it at any time by hovering your mouse over the Avatar area and clicking on the Remove link that appears in the upper right of the square.

The Character Journal in Edit Mode

  • Default Token: The Default Token field gives you the ability to select a token on the tabletop to use as the default token for this Character whenever it is added to the table. Just select a token on the Tabletop, then press the "Use Selected Token" button. A copy of the token will be stored, including any notes, player permissions settings, and bar values and links. A GM or a player that can Edit and Control this Character can then drag-and-drop the Character from the Journal listing in the right sidebar onto the tabletop, and a new copy of the Character's default token will be added to the table.

    Once a Token is tied to a Character in the Journal, a Shift+Click on the Settings icon when a token is selected or Shift+Double Clicking on the token directly will open the attached Character; Alt+Click opens the character to the Attributes & Abilities tab. You can also drag and drop the character name from the Journal tab to add tokens directly to the tabletop once a token has been tied to its Character.
Useful Tip: For PCs, set up all your tokens ahead of time and assign them to their respective PC Character entries. Then when your Players join your game, just give them control of the Character and they'll be able to control all the tokens for that Character right away.
Please see the Linking Characters & Tokens Together section below on how link Token Bars to a Character's Attributes so they update at the same time!
  • Bio & Info Field: The Bio & Info field allows you to input information about the Character.
  • GM Notes Field: Use the GM Notes area to add additional notes that only the GM can see.
Note: Both Bio and GM Note fields have text formatting options available, as well as, the ability to add tables and copy and paste from PDFs or other Word Documents.


Character Sheet Tab

Your Character may also have a Character Sheet tab, which is a way to display information about the character which mimics a paper character sheet for the game you are playing. Your GM will set this feature up if it's available for your game. Filling out the sheet is straightforward, just click on any field and enter your information. Some fields will also auto-update based on other information (for example, your Strength Modifier may auto-calculate based on the Strength of your Character). Finally, Character Sheets may also have roll buttons which you can click to quickly perform skill checks and other actions (such as attacks) for your Character.

Again, consult with your GM for the details on your specific game.

More information on Character Sheets, including how to set them up if you're the GM of the game, are available on the Character Sheets help section.

Attributes & Abilities Tab

The Attributes & Abilities Tab is used to track stats about the Character and store rolls and other chat commands that are frequently used by that Character.


You can add Attributes to your Character by clicking on the + Add Button in the Attributes column. Each Attribute requires a Name, as well as, a Current Value and an (optional) Max Value. Any players that you give permission to edit/control the Character entry will also be able to edit and add more Attributes. Attributes can be used as variables in Macros and Abilities.

Attribute calls (e.g. @{AC}) that are not placed within one of tabs of a Character Window (e.g. within a field on the Character Sheet Tab or within an Ability on the Attributes & Abilities Tab) must use a keyword to let the parser know which Character you intend to call that Attribute from (e.g. @{selected|AC}).

Abilities (Need Update)

Abilities are designed to work in conjunction with Attributes. Abilities work almost exactly as Macros. You can input any valid chat command (rolls, emotes, etc.) into an Ability. By using an Attribute that is assigned to a Character as a variable modifier, you can create complex Character-based Abilities. When creating an Ability, type "@" to view a list of Attributes that can be used. Since the variable used in the Ability is linked to a Character Attribute, the value will sync when changed in the Character editor. You can easily add and remove Abilities from your Macro Quick-Bar by selecting the Character from the Journal Tab. Shift+Clicking on an Ability on the Macro Quick-Bar will open that Character's Ability editor. Abilities can also be used as Token Actions which is a token specific macro feature.

Abilities can be called directly from the chat by typing them similarly to an Attribute. The format is %{<character name>|<ability name}, for example: %{Bob the Slayer|Massive Axe}

Finally, you can hover over Attributes and Abilities to drag and drop to re-order them or delete them.

Ability calls (e.g. %{Bob the Slayer|Massive Axe}) always require a keyword (e.g. the Character Name keyword; "Bob the Slayer"), even within a tab of a Character Window. (e.g. %{Massive Axe} won't work for Bob but %{selected|Massive Axe} can.)

Ability Command Buttons can be used to call Abilities from the text chat.



Handouts are very similar to Characters and have some of the same fields.

Handout Dialog

When you click on a Handout in the Journal Listing, it will open the Handout Dialog. This is where you view the contents of the Handout, including the Image (if one is associated), the Description & Notes text (if any has been entered) and the GM Notes (if the viewer is a GM).

If you include an image that's larger than the Handout Dialog, a magnifying glass will appear over the image when you view the Handout. Clicking on the image in the Handout Dialog will display either the original dimensions or a full-screen version of that image.

The Name of the Handout will be shown across the top of the Handout Dialog with several buttons:

Pop-Out Button


This button is to the left of the Name and looks like two overlapping rectangles. Clicking it will open a window separate from the Roll20 primary window, which can then be placed on a different monitor or switched between with the OS's native commands.

Show To Players Button (GM Only)

This button is to the right of the Name and allows the GM to cause the Handout Dialog to be displayed on the screens of any players that can View the Handout. If no players can View the Handout, a dialog will prompt the GM and ask if it should be shared with all players. Clicking Show to Everyone will insert All Players into the In Players's Journals field of the Handout (see below).

Edit Button

The GM always has this button, as do any players that can Edit the Handout because of inclusion in Can Be Edited By (see below). Clicking this button will move the Handout Dialog into the Editing view.


The Editing view of the Handout Dialog allows GMs and players who can Edit to make changes to the Handout.


You can change the default text of Mysterious Note to whatever you like. This will be the title of the Handout in the Journal tab, and will show across the top of the Handout Dialog when it is opened.

In Player's Journals (GM Only)

Just like for Characters, the GM is the only person that can see a Handout by default. You can allow viewing by select players by putting their name in this field, or select All Players to allow access to all. Players with a Handout in their journal will be able to view it whenever they like. It will be shown in whatever folder the GM has put it in, complete with the name of the folder. You may want to move a handout before allowing your players to view it (For example, if it is in the Cursed Items folder).

You can also drag and drop a Handout from the Journal tab in the right sidebar onto a player. That player will be given permission to view the Handout, and it will also appear on their screen immediately.

Can Be Edited By (GM Only)

Similar to the In Player's Folder, by default only the GM can edit a Handout. Placing a player's name in this field allows that player to both View and Edit that Handout. This is particularly useful for allowing players journals or secret notes for correspondence with the GM. The same notes about folders apply as with the above.


Tags (GM Only)

The Tags field allows you to assign words to associate with this Handout which are useful for finding it later via the Search field or the Tag List Dropdown.


You can upload an Image to represent this Handout in the Journal listing. Just drag and drop an image from your computer, or drag and drop an image from the Art Library search results into the box.

Description & Notes

This field lets you associate a freeform block of text with the Handout. This text is visible to players that can View the Handout and editable by players that can Edit the Handout.

GM Notes (GM Only)

This field is just like Description & Notes save that only the GM can edit and view it, regardless of other settings.

Duplicate Handout (GM Only)

The Duplicate Handout button creates a copy of the handout, named "Copy of (name of handout)", which will appear at the bottom of the journal. Multiple copies of the same handout will all be named "Copy of..." when created, though these can all be renamed as needed.

Archive Handout (GM Only)

The Archive Handout button will move the Handout to a special area where it will no longer show up in the Journal Listing or in results from the Search field or Tag List Dropdown. Archived handouts can be accessed in the Archived Handouts Dialog at the bottom of the Journal Listing, and can be restored there.

Delete Handout (GM Only)

The Delete Handout button will prompt for confirmation and then permanently remove the Handout from the Game.

Organizing Your Journal Entries

Folders can be used to help organize Characters and Handouts within the Journal. Folders and the complete folder structure can be seen by all players who join the game as well as the GM, assuming there is at least one item in each folder for which players have available to their journals. If a folder contains items that are only available to the GM's journal, the players will not see that folder.

Adding Folders

Add a new folder using + Add button as described at the top of this page, making sure to select Folder from the dropdown menu. Follow the instructions on the prompt to name the folder and hit OK to add the folder to the Journal.

Folder Options

Right-click the folder to reveal a list of options. Add SubfoldersCharacters, and Handouts using this method to automatically nest 4 additional folders under the right-clicked folder. Items can also be moved in and out of folders manually using the mouse, see Reorganizing Journal Items for more detail. You can also sort alphabetically and rename the folder from this menu as well. 

Note: Due to the limited space on the Sidebar, only 3 additional folders can be added. Characters and Handouts can only be added to the most deeply nested folder by using the right-click options menu to add items.

Deleting Folders

When you right-click a folder, it will also reveal a list of options for deleting that folder. Those options are as follows

  • Delete Folder: Selecting this will delete the folder, but will not delete the items inside. All items in the deleted folder will be moved to the root folder. Using this option requires your approval upon use, confirm when prompted to initiate your action.
  • Delete Folder and its contents: This will delete the folder in question and everything inside of it, including Characters, Handouts, and other items. Using this option requires your approval upon use, confirm when prompted to initiate your action.

Reorganizing Journal Items

Hover your mouse over the item you wish to move. Grab the "handle" that shows up along the left-side of the item name. Drag the item just below the folder that you want to move it to and then move the file to the right before dropping it in the folder.

Minimizing Journal Entries


You can minimize journal entries by double clicking upon any currently opened character journal or handout. This will shrink the item down to a small translucent title bar with the name of the entry on it and a couple buttons listed on the bar’s right side. You can click and drag this title bar to wherever is most convenient on the browser. To maximize the journal entry again, simply double click on the minimized title bar.

While minimized, the Edit button is still available to access for both character journals and handouts. In the case for handouts, there’s also a “Show To Players” button option.

You can close minimized journal entries by clicking on the X button on the far right of the title bar.

Note: If you close a minimized journal entry it will remain so when you open it again from the Journal Tab on the Sidebar


External Journal Access

If your GM is a Plus or Pro subscriber, you can easily view your External Journal entries outside of the app. Located on the Game Details page, under the Content dropdown menu, along with access to your Chat Archive and Game Forums.


This is great for checking up on things in-between gaming sessions without the hassle of loading up the whole tabletop. You can also keep the External Journal open in a separate tab or browser window, or even on another screen.

The External Journal updates in real-time. So if a change is made to a character’s bio, you don’t need to reload, you’ll see the change right away. This really enables you to use the External Journal as a play aid during your Roll20 games.

Journal Command Buttons

Within the Bio & Info and GM Notes text fields of a Character, or the Description & Notes and GM Notes text fields of a Handout, you can create Journal Command Buttons; special hyperlinks that can output macros to the Text Chat when clicked.

Here's how to create a Journal Command Button within one of the aforementioned fields:

  1. Insert a link using the link button on the redactor toolbar.
  2. At the very start of the "URL" field of the Link Window, type a backtick character: `
  3. Add in your macro code after the ` character.
  4. Give your Journal Command Button a label using the "Text" field.
  5. Press the "Insert" button and Save Changes; you have created a Journal Command Button!


Another way to create Journal Command Buttons is to copy and paste an API Command Button or Ability Command Button from the Text Chat into one of the aforementioned text fields.

Note: Journal Command Buttons will not work if you have the Use Window Popouts for Characters option enabled.

Link Between Journal Entries

As of 08/20/2021, multiple Compendium entries of the same name can exist in your Journal tab. With this update, it is not possible to link to journal entries of the same name at this time. However, we are planning on addressing this in a future release.

You can easily link your journal entries together inside the game.

Just put single brackets around the name of a character or handout (for example: “[Mr. Bearington] is most-known for his long, flowing hair”), and when you save the entry we’ll automatically create a clickable link that will open that other journal entry.

It works both inside and outside the app, and it’s smart enough to obey player permissions as well (so a player can’t open a handout they don’t have access to, even if they see a link to that handout).

You can use the links in character bios, GM notes (both for characters and tokens), and handout notes fields. Use links to tie entries together, or even create a “table of contents” page for your game to quickly access your most-used journal items.


Linking Characters & Tokens Together

You can take token assignments one step further when linking them to a Character Journal.

For PCs or Named NPCs

The following setup is ideal for tokens that represent a single character, whether that's a player character or a prominent villain (i.e. not meant for stock monsters or creatures).

  1. Before linking the token to your character journal, open up its Token's Settings window by double clicking on the token, or clicking on the gear icon.

  2. Select the desired Character Name for this token from the drop down menu for "Represents Character". This drop down menu lists every available character journal entry in alphanumerical order.

  3. For Bars 1, 2, and 3, click on the adjoining drop down menus to choose the relative attribute fields of the character journal. This will include ones you've created and ones that may be used by a Character Sheet (if applicable). A character's current HP value is a good candidate or any other attribute that you want be convenient to track.

  4. Save your changes and close the Token Settings window

Linking to a Compendium Page

If your game uses a compendium, links to that compendium in handouts and character sheets will automatically open in the in-app compendium. Use the full URL in the link in the text editor, including the https:// part of the URL, but do not include bookmarks and arguments (anything that starts with ? or # in a copied URL).

Journal Tab Expansion Sources

Games created before 08/20/2021 which add Compendium entries of the same name will have duplicate entries in their Journal, and one of the entries will not have the source information mentioned above. To address, simply delete the unneeded entry from your Journal.

Journal tab entries that have been added from the Compendium tab have a book title abbreviation and publisher icon. This source information was added in an update on 08/20/2021 to help distinguish Compendium entries with the same name, but different source information. Check out an example below:


Visit the Compendium in Journal tab FAQs page for more information.

Was this article helpful?
94 out of 120 found this helpful