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Outlining in ClarisWorks
by Paul J. Chernoff
© 1998, Paul J. Chernoff

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

Sometimes people ask me, "Paul, who do you write such good articles for the journal?" The answer is easy, I have my wife edit everything for me. "But, Paul," they say, "I don't have a spouse who can edit my writing. What I really want to know is what software I can use to write better."

When it comes to writing, the most important feature to me is outlining. It helps me organize my thoughts, automate formatting, and rewrite.


I. What I have used before

I've been an outline fan since using ThinkTank 512 on a Fat Mac in 1985. I've also worked with its successor, More, and Inspiration. While all are great outliners and offer additional features, none can replace a word processor. More came closest to becoming my word processor, but its word processing features fell short.

For years I depended on Microsoft WORD's outlining features. While WORD is a weaker outliner than the dedicated outlining programs, it does a great job of integrating outlining with word processing. When WORD 5.1 was released, I moved all of my writing to WORD because of its integration and my desire to write using a single application. WORD's linkage of outlining to styles sheets, table of contents creation, automatic paragraph numbering, and the ability to switch between outlining and normal views made me a convert.

But I eventually gave up on WORD after version 6 was introduced. This version changed the outlining shortcuts, and its slow speed and massive size proved to be too much. I moved to ClarisWorks 4 because of its speed, size, features, and ease of use. But I was frustrated by ClarisWorks' outliner, which has not changed with the upgrade to version 5.


II. Initial Limits of ClarisWorks Outlining

ClarisWorks lacks a special outlining mode. WORD's programmers understood the importance of showing the outline structure while displaying minimal formatting. The indents of the outline view need not be reflected in the normal view. This provides great flexibility in the outlining view without limiting formatting options. While ClarisWorks offers the typical outlining features--automatic indentation, paragraph numbering, hiding of subordinate paragraphs, and great ease in moving sectionsit does this all as part of normal text editing.ClarisWorks outlining assumes that you want to outline the entire document or individual subsections. Outline numbering is not continuous when you switch between outline and non-outline paragraphs. Whenever you insert normal paragraphs between outline paragraphs, paragraph numbering will restart at 1. This problem also occurs if you switch between different numbering styles. See Figure 1. Word does not have this limitation.

Figure 1 -- ClarisWorks does not always number paragraphs as desired.


III. Customizing Outline Style sheets

The solution to ClarisWorks' weaknesses is to modify paragraph formats and to automatic these changes through styles. This procedure, as it pertains to outlining, is not spelled out in the manuals.

One attribute that can be assigned to paragraph is "Label." The paragraph label is the numbering or symbol system used in outlines. For example, the Harvard labeling system puts a number or letter in front of every paragraph. The legal label uses a numbering system where a decimal point is added for every level. For example, a level 3 paragraph could be numbered "4.1.3." Labels supported in ClarisWorks include Harvard, legal, diamond, bullet, checkbox, Arabic numbers, Roman numbers, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters. It is possible to mix them within an outline.

Using labels, you can disguise an outline paragraph as a non-outline one. In Figure 2, the third paragraph has its label set to "none"--so it will not be numbered--and its indents set to "0." This paragraph will not appear in outline mode, but the numbering stays continuous from the second to fourth paragraphs. The third paragraph is actually subordinate to the second, so if it had the legal label, it would be labeled 3.5.

Figure 2 -- Outline levels styled through a definition

Instead of manually applying formats to each paragraph, you can use styles to automate formatting. Using styles, you can customize each outline level in terms of character--font, size, and style--and paragraph formatting--indents, leading, and justification. The user can define how each outline paragraph should look according to its level. In Figure 3, the level 1 paragraph is bold while the level paragraph is plain. The space between the paragraphs is created by making the "paragraph space before setting" one line. This last point is important because if you create spaces between paragraphs by pressing the "Return" key, you will sabotage paragraph numbering.

Figure 3 &endash; Using Paragraph formatting to make an outline paragraph appear normal.

The next step is to use ClarisWorks style sheets to automate paragraph formatting.

  1. Select Show Styles from the View menu
  2. Select the outline style to edit. They can be identified by the icon made up of 3 lines.
  3. Click on the Edit button
  4. Select the outline level to be changed
  5. Select any paragraph and/or font settings using the Format, Font, Size, and/or Style menus.

Figure 4 &endash; Edit Style

Click on the "Done" button when finished. Any paragraph of the given style and outline level will now reformat itself according to the specifications.

You might determine that you will use level 5 paragraphs for normal text and set label to "none" and indents to "0" to make them appear normal.

Styles can also be used to solve the problem of not having WORD's separate outlining and normal views. You can create one outlining style that has minimal formatting and numbers each paragraph and another style designed for final presentation. You can write in the first--applying it to all paragraphs--and then apply the second style to all paragraphs when you are finished. And because styles can be copied between documents, once you create your perfect style, it is easy to use over and over again.


IV Conclusions

ClarisWorks 5 does not yet match Microsoft WORD's outlining features. The latter still allows for using outlines for table-of-contents generation. More important, WORD has a paragraph setting called "Keep with next paragraph" that helps with control over page breaks through automation techniques. I hope that Claris will finally adopt this feature in version 6 because manually inserted page breaks often need to be removed after every edit.

But outlining does work. ClarisWorks' method will require some changes in work habits if you previous did your outlining in another application. Outlining with ClarisWorks' other features continues to make it my word processor of choice.

Paul Chernoff spends his days writing databases at The Washingtonian when not busy helping people with QuarkXPress, fixing network problems, working on the Internet, or taking care of the servers. He is lucky to be doing most of his work on a Mac. At home, he balances time between Mac and family. He can be reached at paul.chernoff@tcs.wap.org.



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Revised March 15, 1998 pjc/lic
Washington Apple Pi
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