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Outliner for nonfiction book

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Posted by Stephen R. Diamond
Oct 28, 2018 at 06:05 AM


I haven’t found any provision for a distinction between headings and text. Did I miss it?

Pierre Paul Landry wrote:
Stephen R. Diamond wrote:
>> Thanks, but I should have stated I need a Windows program.
> >Have you considered InfoQube ? It provides for an excellent writing
>environment, as Paul J. Miller recently wrote on his blog:
> >https://pauljmiller.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/a-comparative-review-of-four-note-taking-programs/
> >Pierre
>IQ Designer


Posted by Stephen R. Diamond
Oct 28, 2018 at 06:25 PM



I think I may see what you’re saying re installation problems with Inspiration 9.24. It seems not to install in the start menu! That means that you can’t find it by typing Insp…

I reinstalled and retained the desktop icon. Discouraging to find such an obvious bug in such a mature product. Another annoying bug (or lack of an obvious feature) is that setting default styles has no effect on the outliner—only on the diagram.

But the outliner is full-featured unless you’re interested in columns, which I’m not.

Franz Grieser wrote:
Hello Stephen.
> >When you ask for a one-pane outliner, I’d also recommend Word 2013 or
>2016 for Windows (can’t speak about the MacOS version as I don’t use
>it). I wasn’t aware of the fact that Word only supports 9 levels - the
>maximimum I needed for my non-fiction books was 5 levels.
> >Have you tried Inspiration 9 recently? When I installed it on 2 Windows
>10 machines a few months ago, it wouldn’t load.


Posted by Stephen R. Diamond
Oct 28, 2018 at 06:27 PM


The Sense Editor is the most intriguing product I’ve seen in a long time. I’m reluctant to get into it because I’m not sure I can ever buy it. (My credit card now doesn’t work internationally. When did that bs start?)

Alexander Deliyannis wrote:
Hi Stephen,
> >I have never actually needed more than nine levels _for writing_, but MS
>Word’s arbitrary limitation has nevertheless been a reason for my
>looking elsewhere for ‘real’ outliners.
> >My own tool of choice for long and complex documents is Silva Elm Sense,
>about which I’ve written here in the past, e.g.
> >It’s Windows only, and I hesitate to propose it if you needed it soon,
>as there is currently an issue with its purchasing; see it here in the
>words of its developer, Dave Ewins
> >I’m using a temporary build provided by Dave, which implements the new
>licensing scheme he mentions, but I assume that this only works for
>existing license holders.
> >That said, I believe that Sense is in a league of its own as a tool for
>developing and working on structured texts.
> >
>Stephen R. Diamond wrote:
>Strange to be looking for something so basic, but it’s still hard to
>>find an excellent one-pane outliner with deep levels.
>>It seems Inspiration 9 is the only real alternative for book-length
>>writing. Am I wrong?


Posted by Pierre Paul Landry
Oct 28, 2018 at 10:42 PM


Stephen R. Diamond wrote:
> I haven’t found any provision for a distinction between headings and text. Did I miss it?

Hi Stephen,

I’ll write some documentation on how it works. I’ve been meaning to write it for quite some some, so it is a good thing you ask.

(hint: it uses outline styles with or without the use of the Doc pane, your choice)



Posted by 22111
Oct 28, 2018 at 11:03 PM


(OT: How about going from https back to http, in order to spare users endless clicking for exceptional permissions, for every single page here? FF-only problem? Persists for a month or so now.)

It’s beyond me why somebody who wants to write a text of 100 pages or much more (for publication) would want to insist on doing so within a ONE-pane outliner, really; since the 2-pane paradigm becomes of even more value with every single page you’ll write beyond 20 pages or so…

Fact is, ALL outliners /1/2/3-pane) are bad for mathematical and other formulas; if you need them, you’ll need a traditional text processor, Word, WordPerfect, that German offering (free/paid), that OpenThing offering (free) and its spin-off (can’t remember all those names), or then, that outrageously expensive XyWriter spinoff - which may be the very best solution after all.

Fact is, if you need intralinks, you’ll probably prefer one of the aforementioned “classics”, since intralinks in outliners are either not even available (all (?) 1-pane outliners?) or not exportable then (some 2-pane outliners): Sometimes (e.g. in UR) links from within one item to another item (in its entirety) are available, MI being the only one to my knowledge which lets you do links to text passages (paragraphs, etc.) within the source item - non-exportable, as said.

So for this reason alone, you will probably prefer one of the aforementioned “classics” (?), their respective “outlining” quality / ease-of-use possibly determining your choice among them; in any case, you should try out their respective intralink exportability first, and perhaps also their respective ease of creating, and of changing/shifting (!), those links (target, source).

But I’ve said this here, some years ago: It’s perfectly possible to create pseudo-links within any (even plain) text, by e.g. using
£nBegin of your source/“target” paragraph anywhere.
Some text and then the link(#n), ...,
the “(#n)” before export to some DTP tool (e.g. Quark Express, FrameMaker, InDesign) to be resolved into something like “(see page n)”, and then the DTP tool resolving the “#n” into the real page number and deleting the “£n” - according to the DTP tool which will come into play, you probably must re-arrange the codes in some way, in order for them to be duly processable; refer to the respective manuals.

Ditto for footnotes and for pictures (or even formulas), of course, e.g. by “(#fn)”, “(#pn)” or similar; put pics and formulas all into the same sub-folder, the DTP tool will handle them as expected.

Of course, and since no outliner comes with such functionality, you must either print out a range for n = 1…1000 or whatever you’ll need (the end-”)” giving the clue as to the number of digits, or you do a range 0001…1000 for fixed length), e.g. per excel (i.e. no need to write down all these numbers by hand), and then you must cross out any used number (when in doubt, just skip it since just doubles will be a problem, gaps will not), or you must create a little AHK/AutoIt macro (which I did, and) which counts the numbers for you, and even stores the current number in an .ini file, for counting from there within the next session: 1-key for “new link” (or similar), i.e. for “(#programmatically-attributed-number)”, and then your macro tool will lock your keyboard, except for the navigation and “enter”, and the “enter” key will then insert the same number before the source (i.e. link target) paragraph, together with the leading £; Brits could use the Yen character instead.

The irony here being that even MS Word’s intralinking is so awkward that even the manual procedure described above will be preferable to it.

Then, the only disadvantage of a 2-pane outliner is toggling between tree and text/content; that should be possible by the tab-key, and thus the tab-key isn’t available anymore for inserting a tab; on the other hand, in most manuscripts for books and the like, you would use tabs quite rarely if at all (and then, they would be available by shift-tab or something).

If you use a 2-pane outliner correctly, you will not need title formats: Just like in the 1-pane variety, it’s the indentation level which will correctly be processed by the DTP tool (if the outliner correctly “exports” it all, putting the respective number of tabs before the titles), and that implies that you will create new sub-titles within the tree, instead of creating them within the text (which would create “format” problems in many 2-pane outliners, and not really be very clear in most 1-pane outliners, anyway, let alone the ease of shuffling text parts around in the 2-pane variety, or the geniality of having the (relevant part of the) table of contents available concurrently to the current content: not just one paragraph, but everything which is enclosed within the current sub-title).

The neatness of a 1,000-page manuscript within a 2-pane outliner (with perhaps 500 to 1500, even 1800 tree entries) is incomparably better than whatever you could try with it within a 1-pane outliner, be that “the real thing” or not: I think functionality should prevail, but that’s just me.

(Indented paragraphs (! ie text parts within a sub-title) could be marked “up” (or was it “down”?) by a leading “#i”, even additionally to the indendation seen on screen but which may, or may not, faithfully exportable to DTP; boldening and italicising would be transferred without any trouble: no need to dive into mark-up (or was it mark-down?) excesses. You could also have pic “previews” within the text, together with the above-mentioned, exportable links to the “original” photos/tables/whatever, with (much) higher resolution: just put a “#d” before each such “work illustration”, indicator for “to be (automatically) deleted”. Beware of 2-pane outliners which come without “global replace” if you want to experiment with such codes even later, i.e. without sufficient preparatory work.)

This being said, it’s obvious that a well-used good 2-pane outliner excels if you don’t have too many formulas, for one, and if there will be use of a professional DTP tool before publication: If the end product is to be formatted within MS Word, forget it: Then, you’ll need Word for the redaction work, too.

But using 1-pane outliners for heavy work is beyond me.


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