Best app to create documents with marginal commentary?
September 30, 2012 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an OS X word processing program/app that will allow me to format pages for extensive marginal comments. Pages doesn't appear to allow this type of formatting. Some years ago, I tried doing this on Word 10.x and was driven close to madness by the fact that the marginal comments would shift up, down and onto adjoining pages, apparently at will. I was wondering if there are any other not hugely expensive options out there. Thanks.
posted by the sobsister to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
I don't know if your need is for something that allows the comments to be placed on the page itself. Scrivener is an excellent program that allows for users to place extensive comments, tied to a line or paragraph, outside the boundaries of the page.
posted by megatherium at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2012


Megatherium,

Thanks for asking that. The comments would need to be on the page itself and viewable if printed.
posted by the sobsister at 8:41 AM on September 30, 2012


Perhaps screenwriting software would offer what you want? A common program is Celtx which seems on quick glance to offer some useful features.

You might also check the list at Literature and Latte
posted by blob at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2012


Pages has marginal comments (at least when working in a "Page Layout" document) that will print with the document and remain lined up with whatever word/phrase they are linked to; can you be more specific about what kind of formatting issues you're having and how you'd prefer this to function?
posted by bcwinters at 9:29 AM on September 30, 2012


Would these be different marginal comments from those provided by Track Changes?
posted by scruss at 9:53 AM on September 30, 2012


scruss and bcwinters,

Sorry I wasn't clearer. I don't mean "comments" in the editorial type of Track Changes/sticky note style that Word and Pages use, but more marginal notes of the type one would find in, for example, a Bible, where commentary and verse citations would appear in the margins.
posted by the sobsister at 10:22 AM on September 30, 2012


If you were comfortable using LaTeX or a relative, I think there's some basic support for this - see here for example - and it wouldn't surprise me if there were stylesheets/packages developed for more extensive variants when working on stuff like scriptural commentary.
posted by brennen at 11:25 AM on September 30, 2012


I just checked and LyX, which is essentially sort of a GUI for writing LaTeX, supports this out of the box. It's not exactly the most intuitive piece of software, but might be a good way to experiment. (There might also be friendlier options that use Tex/LaTeX under the hood, these days. It's been a while since I needed to create a paper document, so I'm a bit out of the loop.)
posted by brennen at 11:42 AM on September 30, 2012


brennen,

I just downloaded the MacTeX package and will d/l LyX as well. Thanks for the tip. It's an interesting approach. Can you describe its advantage(s) over a standard word processing app/program?
posted by the sobsister at 12:22 PM on September 30, 2012


I haven't tried it, but Jer's Novel Writer supports margin notes.
posted by Brent Parker at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2012


I just tried Jer's Novel Writer and it doesn't support margin notes on paper.
posted by Brent Parker at 1:43 PM on September 30, 2012


I just downloaded the MacTeX package and will d/l LyX as well. Thanks for the tip. It's an interesting approach. Can you describe its advantage(s) over a standard word processing app/program?

In general, it has very high quality output (particularly for formulas and equations), allows some amount of separating the content of a document from its ultimate presentation, and lets you use standard text editors and the like. It's still used fairly broadly in the sciences and academic fields, although I suspect less so than it once was. There are a number of tools for citations and so forth that play nicely with (La)TeX documents.

Whether any of this is worthwhile depends on how much you feel like fussing with it. I've used it to produce some things I was quite happy with, without too much pain, but I'm fairly technical and don't mind some fiddling around with markup. Mileage varies here.
posted by brennen at 3:17 PM on September 30, 2012


I've been looking for something similar, and came across Sente, which looks good, but I'm still too new to it to say if it's "great" or not, and certainly it doesn't seem to do quite what I'm looking for (yet?). But it may be of interest to you.
posted by segatakai at 5:33 AM on October 1, 2012


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