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How to use OpenOffice.org as a Two Pane Outliner

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HowTos

I’ve loved using outliners for many years. Their ability to
simultaneously help structure a document and give an overview of it has
great appeal.

When I was at school, I was a pretty good essay writer. But I was in
high school during the late 70s, back when computers didn’t attend
school. Writing essays was done with pen and paper, but my mind doesn’t
work in a linear fashion. This meant that when creating my essay, I
made several drafts, and did three times more writing than my teacher
marked.

My first draft consisted of all of the points I wanted to make and
write about. I didn’t use full sentences, and wasn’t overly concerned
with the order of my points. On this piece of paper I would eventually
start looking for connections between my points, and used lots of
arrows and asterisks. I would often finish this draft by numbering some
of the main points.

On my next piece of paper, I would flesh out a my ideas into
sentences and paragraphs. I would try to write my points in an order
that flowed logically. On re-reading what I had written, I’d try to
improve on the words I had chosen, and would often rework the structure
of my sentences. Finally, I would write an introduction to my essay,
then slightly reword my introduction and use it as a conclusion. I’d
aim to make the conclusion the best and clearest piece of writing in
the essay.

Once I was happy with this, I would rewrite it as neatly as possible
on a clean piece of paper, and hand this into the teacher for marking.
Generally, she was happy.

A decade later I bought my first personal computer. When I
discovered outlining, I was amazed and satisfied. I had found a piece
of technology that made my essay writing procedure as easy as
breathing. Outlining allowed me to make, order and relate points, flesh
them out, and format them. And at the end of my fiddling, I had a
finished document.

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