Writing Tools: Do You use Outlining and Document Maps ??

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  1. Eric Graudins profile image60
    Eric Graudinsposted 9 years ago

    I was stunned today when I spoke to one of my clients, who is  a writer and Ph.D student.

    She creates HUGE academic works, and books.

    She did not know about Outlining. Or How to use Document Maps.
    Or how to generate a table of contents automatically.

    These are all built into Microsoft Word and other word processors.


    This is unbelievable to me that these huge time savers are not taught as a matter of course.

    So If you don't know how to use these tools, find out about them.
    they'll save you tens or even hundreds of hours if you are a serious writer.

    cheers, Eric G.

  2. Lissie profile image78
    Lissieposted 9 years ago

    Thats insane - but on the other hand I have never been on a course for a word processor - and I know them all - back to Dispalyright, WordStar, and the pre-windows version of WordPress. It was obvious to me the first time I did something with a TOC that there had to be away to automate it - maybe being lazy is the key to my curiosity about software LOL

    And yes TOC/indexes and proper footnoting has been around for a lot longer than Word (which still does it particularly badly IMHO)

  3. mandybeau profile image52
    mandybeauposted 9 years ago

    Its the same in the Art area I was showing a graphic artist how to do layer separations, after watching her painfully use a little tablet pen and a filling tool. It would have been shodey work.
    I showed her in seconds all 5 were done. I think that some people look and understand and some like a horse need to be led to the Water.

  4. lisafwg01 profile image56
    lisafwg01posted 9 years ago

    I must be the only person left on Earth who does their outlining and first drafts with paper and pencil...lol

    1. Shirley Anderson profile image68
      Shirley Andersonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Nope, I still do it sometimes.  Quite a bit this time of year because I can go sit out in the sun and work.  Also, there are times when my eyes and brain can't take any more of the computer screen and I need a change to stimulate creativity again.

    2. Eric Graudins profile image60
      Eric Graudinsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Nah, I still do it too - but mainly in mindmap format both with pencil and paper, and also using freemind, an excellent free mind mapping application. (google it - It's awesome!)

      1. profile image0
        MangoGirlposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        You really use mindmaps? I'm wondering how wide-spread their use is today.

        1. Eric Graudins profile image60
          Eric Graudinsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          Sure do. They're great for creating well structured work.
          I just grab all the various unrelated thoughts as they fly through my head, and plug them into the relevant node on the mind map. Or make a new one. Using freemind give you loads of flexibility with moving, reordering, etc.

          And I've used outlining forever.
          I find that most of the work for a project, assignment, article, etc, is in creating a suitable structure, with topics, headings, subheadings, etc.

          Then filling out the content is easy - you just write a few lines under each of your outline headings, and you're pretty well done!

          Cheers, Eric G.

          1. profile image0
            MangoGirlposted 9 years agoin reply to this

            Do you bother with drawings and creative looks?

            1. Eric Graudins profile image60
              Eric Graudinsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

              I'm no artist but I'll put in a little sketch or drawing if needed.
              Don't worry about creative looks - the mindmap is just an intermediate working tool for me. All the flowery stuff, graphics, pretty colours, etc is usually just a distraction to me unless there's a reason to include them.

              Mindmaps are also an excellent reference if I have to give a talk on something. Everything is laid out in a logical order, and I can use the same mindmap on a topic to give a 5 minute or a one hour talk. The difference is in the depth of what's covered.

              1. profile image0
                MangoGirlposted 9 years agoin reply to this


  5. Shadesbreath profile image81
    Shadesbreathposted 9 years ago

    I do a lot of my outlining in Word, but not with Word tools... just with line breaks and indentation of my own design.  I hate wrestling with formating and tab sets that don't fit what I'm trying to do.  I use paper and pencil for some of the conceptual stuff, but Word helps when your putting it together, or time-lining.

  6. Shirley Anderson profile image68
    Shirley Andersonposted 9 years ago

    Actually Shades, seeing you just reminded me of fiction (because you write it) and the fact that, for some reason I can't logically explain, I always write fiction long hand.  Always.

  7. Shadesbreath profile image81
    Shadesbreathposted 9 years ago

    Actually, I know a lot of people who do that.  They tell me that they are more in touch with their story, it's more physical for them.  I totally believe and respect that.  For me it's too slow, I can't keep up with what I'm "watching take place" in my head, so typing is best for me.

    1. Shirley Anderson profile image68
      Shirley Andersonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I've experienced that - not being able to keep up and write fast enough.  I guess maybe what people have told you is the case for me, too.  It seems to 'flow' when writing rather than typing, even though it's faster type and it doesn't give you writer's cramp.


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