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Posted by Dr Andus
Sep 28, 2013 at 04:17 PM


Stephen Zeoli wrote:
>This is the argument for Markdown that I don’t really get. When I’m in
>“creative” mode, I’m not even thinking about what needs to be bold or

Well, I meant the term “creative” in the broadest possible sense, to include any kind of writing (fiction, scientific etc.) where you really need to concentrate and come up with new and good stuff.

In the academic writing that I do, emphasis is indicated by italics, to be used very sparingly, but sometimes you do need it. Also, it always must be preserved when it’s within a quote. Block quotes also need to be recorded, and headings need to be indicated. Markdown makes that very easy, and it does it relatively unobtrusively. I don’t find that my text is littered with Markdown code.

Franz Grieser wrote:
>You do not need to interrupt your typing to make sth. bold or italics or
>underline words or apply heading templates: Word, LibreOffice et.al.
>have keyboard shortcuts for that.

Sure, but here we’re talking about distraction-free writing environments, and even though Word etc. do have those shortcuts, for some reason they still don’t care to provide a full-screen distraction-free mode a la WriteMonkey etc.

Cassius wrote:
>My BIGGEST problem came
>when I discovered that the email system we were using at the FAA would
>actually CHANGE a Word document that I had emailed to someone.

Yes, this is the other big argument for staying within text editors and using some kind of a mark-up such as Markdown or LaTex, which is 100% portable across all platforms.


Posted by johnmcde
Sep 28, 2013 at 06:49 PM


Dr Andus wrote:
Dr Andus wrote:
>Cassius wrote:
>>I’m confused.  What is “distracting” in Word, WordPad, etc.?
>>>Personally, I like to be able to BOLD, Italic, etc.
>>Dr Andus wrote:
>>But also, you are describing a word processing task, not a creative
>>writing task.
> >Incidentally, I don’t even think MS Word is that great at formatting.
>I’ve just spent two very frustrating weeks editing a 10k-word article in
>Word, where Word constantly reversed my decisions about the formatting
>of headings and block quotes, such as renumbering headings when I didn’t
>tell it to do so or seemingly randomly inserting or eliminating spaces
>from between the section number and the start of the heading, or just
>undoing my block quote indentation, when I updated the styles.
> >I got so frustrated that now I’m contemplating learning LaTex for
>writing, formatting and typesetting my documents (I have no need for
>maths formulas), to get complete control over the look. It would be
>great if this could be done in Markdown, but MD seems to be more
>oriented toward web output then typeset documents.
> >Here is an interesting article in this regard entitled “Word Processors:
>Stupid and Inefficient” and with headings such as “The evils of
> >“1. The author is distracted from the proper business of composing text,
>in favor of making typographical choices in relation to which she may
>have no expertise (“fiddling with fonts and margins” when she should be
>concentrating on content).
> >2. The typesetting algorithm employed by WYSIWYG word processor
>sacrifices quality to the speed required for the setting and resetting
>of the user’s input in real time. The final product is greatly inferior
>to that of a real typesetting program.
> >3. The user of a word processor is under a strong temptation to lose
>sight of the logical structure of the text and to conflate this with
>superficial typographical elements.”
> >http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/wp.html

You might want to try Lyx. It’s a GUI front end for LaTeX. Lyx is free as in free beer and is available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Lyx (and LaTeX) are especially suited for academic writing.


Posted by Dr Andus
Sep 28, 2013 at 10:46 PM


johnmcde wrote:
>You might want to try Lyx. It’s a GUI front end for LaTeX. Lyx is free
>as in free beer and is available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Lyx (and
>LaTeX) are especially suited for academic writing.

Thanks for the suggestion. It does look like Lyx might hit the spot (or one of the spots).

In the previous posts I conflated two wishes. One wish was for distraction-free writing, the other wish was for gaining more control over document structure formatting and typesetting.

WriteMonkey is a bit of a half-way house, as it is great for distraction-free writing, and it even offers reasonably good control over structure and formatting via Markdown (mark-ups for headings, emphasis and block quotes is all I need).

However, to turn it into a complete product (an academic paper for a journal), I need to export the text into Word, so that I can insert my citations from EndNote, create the bibliography, format the paper, so that it can be shared with others and sent to publishers.

That’s where things go pear-shaped, as Word produces all kinds of formatting and typesetting glitches, and EndNote is also awkward, when it comes to tinkering with its styles to meet different journals’ special requirements.

I started to look into LaTex, and it’s clear that it’s far superior over Word in its output and would give me huge control over formatting and typesetting. But there does seem to be a steep learning curve, and some of the LaTex editors I saw for Windows (such as LaTex Editor: http://www.latexeditor.org/screenshots.html) can’t exactly be called distraction-free environments.

Lyx, being WYSIWYM, might be a less daunting way to get into LaTex… I see that people started toying with the idea of converting Markdown into LaTex (which would be the ideal solution: WriteMonkey + Lyx), but the solutions I’ve seen are way over my head and my computing skills…


Posted by Dr Andus
Nov 8, 2013 at 11:09 AM


Problem: I want to be able to display a line of text (my research question) at the top of my screen permanently, without any borders or buttons and with the same font and background colour as my WriteMonkey, so that it blends into my distraction-free writing environment.

Solution (so far): using DesktopCoral to display the text as an image made from a WM screenshot, reserving it from other maximised windows. Here is a description with a screenshot:


Wish: Unfortunately DesktopCoral doesn’t let me write into its bar directly, so to modify the text I need to take a new screenshot in WriteMonkey every time, save it, add it to DC, adjust it etc. A bit of a hassle.

Is there any alternative way of displaying text exactly like this where one could just write directly into the reserved area?


Posted by Alexander Deliyannis
Nov 8, 2013 at 12:07 PM


I am sure that there are utilities enabling you to display “ghost text” which is not influenced by anything else, even full screen views. However, what you want seems to me so brilliantly simple and useful, that I would suggest you make a proposal to WriteMonkey’s developer for a relevant plugin.

A dissertation is not the only application where a title or question, permanently displayed, can help one focus their writing. I’m sure many WriteMonkey users will use it.

You can say that other donating users are interested (I am, and I count as two: I’ve also made a donation on behalf of my wife :-)


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