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Modular Document Creation? Notes Publishing?

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Posted by Garland Coulson
Nov 4, 2020 at 05:57 PM


I have a need to create documents in modules, then insert or remove modules that aren’t needed.

For example, if I were doing a proposal for a client on digital marketing services, my proposal may include:

-Content creation
-SEO, etc

But not all modules would work for all clients. So I want to be able to switch off modules that aren’t needed.

Google Docs or Word could work, but I would end up having to remove large chunks of text each time.

Years ago, while using Evernote, they used to let us publish our notes as books. I was just getting some books in the Evernote ready, when they pulled the feature from free users.

I have tried sharing notebooks on OneNote, but my clients seem to struggle with this.

But I would be open to one of the note-taking programs being an option if I can export it in a good format for clients.

Any thoughts?


Posted by Franz Grieser
Nov 4, 2020 at 07:26 PM


Hi Garland.

Two suggestions:

1. Scrivener comes to mind: Add your blocks as notes, select the relevant note and then use the Compile feature to create a single document

2. Or use DocxManager (see https://docxmanager.com/features/combine-documents.html)
Split your blocks into Docx files, create a new project, add the relevant files and merge them.


Posted by Andrew
Nov 4, 2020 at 08:31 PM


Hi Garland,

There a probably a bunch of ways that depend on how comfortable you are with different technologies. For instance, I have a modular setup for my CV, where I include different information and differently-focused versions of the same information depending on what job I am applying for. That is in latex, though, so it requires you to be au fait with that.




Posted by 22111
Nov 5, 2020 at 04:22 PM


The google phrase would be ‘document automation software’ but you came here because you don’t want to pay 500 bucks, right?

Provided that the ORDER will be fix and that’s it just a question of “checked - not checked”, you just need a list with the elements (as implied, in a fixed order), and then this list must allow for multi-select (i.e. with shift-mouseclick, you select several entries; ideally, this should also work for a (simple) tree, instead of only working for a flat list).

You can also do this with Autohotkey e.g. (with, e.g., another list in which you would store “typical” selections, which then you manually refine, i.e. you STORE selections = selection combos under a name there, and you trigger those from your second list, but before export, you check visually and select another element here, de-select another element there…), or then, without any scripting, but clicking 1-by-1 then, in one of the numerous (free or paid, around 10 to 25 bucks) “clip” managers (i.e. I don’t know of any such clipboard manager which allows for preset combos). Some formatting is possible for both solutions.

And just another solution (free now), download ‘Jot+ Notes’ (well, we’re on outlinersoftware.com, right?), make a (rather flat) tree, then “mark” the entries to be included (= in such, it’s similar to the clip manager solution, scripting being ALWAYS better), then export the “marked” items (“unmarking” being possible in bulk but then, advantage over the clip manager solution: Instead of bulk “unmarking”, you could leave alone the “standard” elements, just manually “unmark” (= 1-click if set to 1-key) the elements NOT needed in the current proposal. Even more formatting being possible with the Jot+ Notes solution.

Similar and probably even more for Excel where you could have a (formatted) text column, and then even several, different “typical case” trigger columns, with preset “x” or “1” or whatever (instead of null) content, and then even another, additional trigger columns, for additional “x” or “1” or whatever Y/N codes, or even better, that column being empty in that row for “as the code in the respective standard column”, but with a “0” for “standard column but without the “plus sign” in this row, and a “1” for “additional to the standard row (which is empty then), “do it”.

Then, you will need to create some formula:

“Export as said in column trigger1/1/2…9 (row: 0 (or empty) or “1” or “x”) (since you will have SEVERAL standard situations to choose from), plus take into account the column “special”: consider the row entry in the trigger column as 0 if there’s a 0 here, and consider the row entry in the trigger column as 1 even if it’s empty”.

Then, you’d have some macro triggering the export, from use case 1…9, and taking into account your “specifics” entered into the “special/individual/specific/whatever” column.

When I speak of formatting, I just mean “stable” formatting; it’s only by scripting (AHK or similar) that you would be able to do conditional formatting.

“Easiest” solution, rent some “business proposal” software (I just recently came across some of these in an IT consumer magazine), for about 15 bucks a months.

Realistically, you should look into Jot, and if you don’t like it, review the different clip managers for your purpose.

(I do NOT know the details of the above-mentioned document automation softwares but I’m quite sure that my recent remark re TimelineMaker Pro here will apply, too: You do NOT pay for additional functionality, but for “ease of use”; some hours - less than half a day - with scripting (AHK in my case, for your current requirement; or then Excel, a much superior timeline production software than the paid and “specialized” one mentioned) will produce better results, incl. conditional order - which would be not so evident in Excel e.g.)


Posted by 22111
Nov 5, 2020 at 08:32 PM


Some Excel detail: To do this better, column 1 would be the formatted text, column 2 would be the “current choice” one, then an empty column, then columns 4…n for pre-sets.

You would have 2 macros, the first one to retrieve the preset, e.g. control-5 would empty column 2 and fill it with preset 5, i.e. would replicate column 5’s contents into column 2. From then on, you would manually change the contents in column 2. Macro 2 would then do the export of the formatted contents of column 1, according to the current setting of column 2.

(Excel cell formatting allows for formatting sub-strings, i.e. just some words within the cell’s text.)

Even better: Conditional formatting, i.e. not an additional column 2, but control-n would just “update” the cell background coloring of the text column 1, i.e. setting all cells to default = white, then set the “active” cells (according to preset n) to background yellow or something. From then on, you would click onto a cell, in order to “invert” the selection (white to yellow and vice versa). Macro 2 would then do the export of all “yellow” cells.


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