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Outlining and writing on multiple vertical monitors

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Posted by Dr Andus
Dec 9, 2011 at 01:27 AM


I’ve been doing my outlining and writing with multiple application windows across two horizontal (landscape) monitors (19” and 22”) using extended display. I was happy until I saw this picture of a Harvard prof working across four vertical (portrait) monitors, which made me wonder if I was missing something: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/428516/2011-12-09-011056.png

I tried manually rotating my 22” monitor and realised that a huge portrait view does have some distinct advantages. Clearly you will see a lot more of a long outline and your text (whether in Scrivener or Word), not to mention other list-based formats such as mail boxes, databases, bibliographies and of course websites that need you to scroll down. It also alters the experience of reading a PDF, as suddenly you can see the whole page and half of the next or previous page.

Does anyone have experience working with this sort of vertical set-up? Could this be the Christmas present I’ve been waiting for?


Posted by Gary Carson
Dec 9, 2011 at 05:40 PM


I’ve been using two monitors for a long time now. Can’t imagine working any other way. It’s the best thing I’ve found for efficiency and productivity.

My setup is basically a laptop with a second emachine wide-screen monitor that can display multiple document pages at the same time. I’m using extended display as well.

I’m a writer and I’ll put up outlines or drafts on one monitor and work on rewrites, etc., on the other monitor. Another application is to put reference material on one monitor and take notes or copy material to a document on the other monitor. Also, I use dictation a lot and I’ll put the transcript of an early session up on monitor one and dictate the second draft on monitor two, using the transcript as a reference.

Landscape orientation has its advantages because you can display a couple of different pages in a single document at the same time, but I like vertical orientation, too. It seems more natural when you’re writing and you can see a lot more of your manuscript. My problem is that the graphics card in my laptop can’t handle vertical orientation. I’ve tried vertical monitors on other workstations, however, and they’re fantastic. On my last job, there was an investment company on the ground floor of our building that had a workstation with something like eight monitors. Absolutely incredible.

I’ve reached the point where I can’t work on just one screen anymore. Having to switch between open windows on a single monitor seems incredibly primitive and awkward now. Regardless of what kind of information-management software you use, I would definitely recommend investing in multiple monitors. The more the better. This one simple hardware change makes all the difference in the world. If I could afford it, I’d invest in a good desktop computer with multiple graphics cards capable of dual-orientation and at least four monitors. Just thinking about it is giving me a geek-gasm.


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
May 19, 2012 at 07:01 AM


For reference; here’s a similar setup with three horizontal monitors from the developer of Watership Planner http://www.watership-planner.com/my-story.html

I like the fact that he uses dark background in most of the windows.

I remember Al Gore and Bill Gates using the same setup but thankfully it should be affordable lower in the pyramid too.


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