One of the great joys of playing Dwarf Fortress is seeing your dwarves be creative and express themselves entirely of their own accord. It’s not quite like anything else in gaming. But some forms of expression will require the right materials to produce. And, unsurprisingly, these often materials require complex processes to attain. This is certainly true of writing materials, which are at home in any library and are a must if your dwarves are going to write any books.
How to craft writing materials
There are a variety of different types of writing material you can produce, but generally, the easiest type to get ahold of are scrolls. Note that these may be easiest to acquire by trading, especially if you’re early in a run and don’t have many of the necessary buildings for paper production yet. The easiest way to obtain scrolls (if you aren’t lucky enough to have papyrus on your map) is by using plant fibers, which should be abundant almost anywhere.
Once you have plenty of plant fibers, you’ll need a quern, which you craft at a stoneworker’s workshop. Then, you can use your quern to mash plants into a slurry. Next, you’ll need a screw press to press the mash into paper sheets. Note that building a screw press requires two mechanisms, although it doesn’t matter what kind of mechanisms those are. Once you have a screw press, add a task (or work order) to “press plant slurry into paper sheet.” Finally, you’ll need scroll rollers to turn these sheets into scrolls. You can make scroll rollers out of several materials, including glass, metal, and wood. Search for the scroll rollers of your choice in the work order menu (o) and make at least two. Once you have your paper sheets and your scroll rollers, you can craft scrolls using the craftsdwarf’s workshop.
How to use writing materials
The trick of getting your dwarves to actually write on your scrolls isn’t a very straightforward process, but there are a few things you can do to speed up the process. First, build a library. Like with any room, this requires creating a new zone in the zone menu (z.) A library is a subset of meeting area, so place that first before assigning as a library afterward. From here your best bet involves assigning a scribe to the library, using the “set details” tab in the zones menu, and giving the room ample tables and chairs for work and gathering. Additionally, it seems like dwarves will be more likely to write if they have books to read, so be sure to buy some from any traders that pass through, before building bookshelves in the library to store them in.