Taking Notes

Fookes Software’s NoteTab, is my favorite all-around, all-purpose program. It is billed as a programmable text editor. This means you can build scripts to handle various text editing tasks.

A text editor is plain text, like if you used a typewriter. A word processor is like Microsoft Word, or OpenOffice Writer, the user can do bold, underline, pictures, etc.

The benefits of using a text editor to do your writing is that you can focus on the content first, and the presentation later. With a word processor, there is the constant temptation to format text as you go rather than going with the flow.

NoteTab has one useful feature for taking notes called Outlines. A NoteTab outline is just a plain text file with a special formatting code in the first line so that NoteTab will show it as an outline.

Example of NoteTab Outline

Example of NoteTab Outline

I have many uses for outlines in my campaign design, session preparation, and record keeping.

NoteTab’s scripting abilities allow it to open other programs such as web pages or PDFs in Adobe Reader.

I have outlines for ideas for this blog, DM notes, Hexcrawl notes from various sources on the internet, lists of NPCs, ideas, etc.

I prefer to use NoteTab Pro for its versatility, but there are two other versions, NoteTab Standard, which is included with NoteTab Pro, and a free version, NoteTab Light. The free version can read outlines but cannot create new outlines without a workaround. All three versions support a PasteBoard feature. One document is designated as a PasteBoard and any text you copy using CTRL+C, for example, goes to the paste board. One inventive NoteTab user built a clip to do a similar thing with outlines, and creates the header composed of the date and time. This clip is good if you have a lot of repetitive information you plan to copy from an electronic source, and need to keep it organized.

If you want outlines in multiple depth and with formatting, such as bold or underline, check out InSight or PowerOutlines by DataOmega. InSight has all the bells and whistles plus the kitchen sink. PowerOutlines is focused on outlines. Both products can import NoteTab outlines. PowerOutlines has the added benefit of being able to save to the NoteTab outline format, so you can view and edit the same file with either PowerOutlines or NoteTab.

A good text editor is critical for organizing and storing notes. Be aware that online there are raging debates about the best text editor. I have a couple that I use, depending on my needs. Like an edition war, pick the one the works best for you and don’t waste time arguing about it.

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