Ordinary Human Language

by Brian Crane

Formatting Shallow Outlines

Outlines and maps are where I do most of my work in Tinderbox, but they function very differently from each other. Effective outlines use a hierarchy of container notes to structure information. Maps organize the notes in a single container using spatial relations drawn onto a flat surface.

Having both tools available to work with the same notes is powerful. Yet, in my early project files, I also found it was easy to wind up in a situation where work I put into organizing my outline limited what kind of work I could do with my maps. (cf. “Boxes within Boxes“)

A well ordered outline can lead to a too limited map view.

A well populated map view can reduce your outline to a list.

But there’s a way to avoid this potential problem. Using prototypes and the inspector to adjust typography, you can easily create (or adjust) headings and subheadings that can be used to transform a “deep” outline into a “shallow” structured list that doesn’t limit the scope of the corresponding map view.

In the video below, I use the “Organization Prototype” I created in the last post and  the “Events” prototype that is built into Tinderbox1 to create headings in an outline. To do this:

1 Select a prototype.
2 Open the inspector (menu or cmd+1).
3 Switch to the text inspector tab.
4 Adjust the prototype’s text attributes to create a heading. (The changes are visible as they are made and affect every note controlled by the prototype you are adjusting.)
5 Select a second prototype and adjust it’s settings to create a subheading.

Once your headings are created, you can use shift+Tab to “flatten” segments of your outline’s structure without eliminating its organization.2

Next Post: Creating and Deleting Attributes

1 You can install this prototype (and several others) by going to File=>Built in Prototypes… . ↩
2 The thin lines in my outline are Separators. They are the outline view’s equivalent of Adornments and can be created using the contextual or Note menus. They can be named or unnamed and are a useful supplement to headings. ↩

Posted November 4, 2014