Chapter 4 Using Theorymaker text

There are three ways to use Theorymaker.

  1. Make a diagram at by typing text into the text window.
  2. Install the R package on your own computer and generate the diagrams yourself.
  3. Just follow the same basic ideas to draw diagrams by hand, with PowerPoint, etc.

4.1 Make a diagram at

4.1.1 Input

Currently there are two web addresses for using Theorymaker. The old version is at Some of the information in this book do not apply to the old version. It has its own help pages.

The new (experimental) version is at You should usually use this version. You might want to use the old version for a few features which have not been adopted in the new version.

When you get to Theorymaker, first a short help screen will appear. You can close this by clicking anywhere outside. You can return to it later by clicking the “help” link.

You will see a generic text in the text window to the left, and a corresponding diagram to the right. If you have come to Theorymaker by following a link, you might see a different diagram.

You can make a completely new diagram by deleting all the text and starting again. Or you can tweak the diagram by editing a few things. Don’t worry, you can’t damage the original.

You can also click on the example pictures below the main diagram. This will load different text into the text window and produce the corresponding diagram. You will lose any text which was in the window before.

4.1.2 Output

The main output is the diagram you will see on the right. You also get:

  • a button on the right which shows details for each variable in the diagram
  • a button on the right which shows details for each arrow in the diagram

If the diagram contains loops and base levels are set for some of the variables, additional output is shown – see the section on “inference”.

4.1.3 Saving

You can save a permanent link to your diagram. Type a name for it in the Title box, and press save. A link appears which you can click on, and/or copy and send to someone or bookmark for yourself. If you make further changes to your diagram, remember to save them again. If you want you can save them under the same title, or you can use a new title like “my-diagram-version-2”. The title cannot have spaces or unusual characters.

4.1.4 Downloading

You can right-click on the diagram and paste the picture into some kinds of documents – but it won’t work in most versions of Microsoft Office. So you can also press Download picture to save a .png file to your desktop which you can then paste into your document.


If you type a line consisting of just “====” below your text in the text window, any text you type after that will appear below the diagram. This way, you can type additional explanations for colleagues who might be viewing a diagram for which you sent them the permalink. You can use Markdown to format your text easily.

4.2 Install the R package

You use R? Great, then you can use Theorymaker on your own computer.

A package is forthcoming! But for now, it is almost as convenient to just download and source the script at

4.3 Just follow the same basic ideas by hand