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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Using Pages as a simple text outliner



When you need to make a text outline on a Mac, what software do you use?


You can turn to the dedicated apps such as the Omnigroup’s OmniOutliner 4. Considering your time and budget constraints and just how sophisticated an outline you need for this project…why not use one of Apple’s own text editing tools? Apple gives new owners two editing tools, the basic TextEdit and the more capable Pages. I use Pages.


Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t make it easy to find out for a neophyte to figure out how to make a text outline in Pages. Type in “Outline” into the Help and you get information on outline fonts. Not a lot of help.

After some searching, I have found out how to set up Pages for a simple Harvard style text outline with up to 9 levels of depth. 


Here’s how to do it:


First, open Pages. If you bought a Mac recently, you’ll probably find Pages, along with Numbers and Keynote, in the Dock, ready for your use.


Figure 7 Pages in the Dock


Second, double-click on it to launch it. You will see a choice of templates for your writing. For our purposes, you want the blank portrait format on the top row at the left-hand side.


Figure 1 choose a template


Third, double-click on it. Depending on who’s used it before you, you may get a blank page like this one:



Figure 2 you have a blank page what to do next


How do you get from blank screen to Harvard outline? 


Click on the Format icon, which is a paintbrush, in the upper right-hand corner. I’ve put a red box around it to show you.


Figure 3 you clicked on the Format paintbrush icon



Now you have the Format Palette at the right-hand side. It contains the controls for formatting your page, such as choosing a font. 

Notice the three buttons below the word “Body”. 


You want to make sure the Style button is highlighted (darkened). It’s on the left-hand side of these three buttons.

Figure 8 you want the Style button on the left hand side





To get to the Harvard style outline, click on the button with a default of “None” to the right of the Bullets & Lists item. A list will appear showing the choices.


Figure 3 you clicked on the Format paintbrush icon




Figure 4 Click on the lists button to see your choices



Double-click on the Harvard style  The Roman numeral I will appear on your screen in the upper left-hand quadrant. 


To maneuver through this outline, use these keys:


1. Use the up and down arrow keys to move up and down through your outline.

2. To move down in your outline, you can use either the classic MS Word style of just hitting the Tab key or use Apple’s style of Command + ]

3. If you want to move up in your outline, press the Shift+Tab keys together or press Command + [

4. If you want to add an item to your outline, position your cursor at the end of the outline item above where you want to insert the new item Now press the ENTER key.,

5. Use Tab or Shift+Tab to arrange the item in the outline’s hierarchy. I’m used to those keys, but you can use the Apple style of Command + ] and Command + [. Whatever floats your boat.




Figure 6 the nine levels of outlining



Q: I have the old Pages ’09, not the latest Pages ‘15. How do you get to the Harvard outline in Pages ’09?

A: Good question. Pages ’09 doesn’t have the Format Palette, but uses a toolbar. 


Figure 9 Pages  09 and where the lists are located


You want the toolbar button at the far right, which looks like three lines stacked on top of each other. To verify you’ve got the right button, just place your cursor on a button. Within a few moments, a tooltip will appear giving the button’s function.


Click on the button once or twice, and you’ll get a list of available lists. One of them is Harvard format.


Figure 10 Pages  09 choices of lists


As you see, it starts out with None, same as Pages ’15. You have to double-click on the Harvard selection to switch the list format to Harvard. 

When successful, you will see a Roman letter I appear in the upper left-hand quadrant of your screen. 


Q: Can I take an outline I’ve created in Pages and use it with Microsoft Word?

A: You have to export the Pages document as a Word .doc (97-2004) or .docx (2008-2016) document. But I tried exporting a simple Pages outline into Word format and it worked fine with Word 2016 on my Mac. 


Exporting documents from Pages is in the Files menu,  but don’t confuse it with Save As…! 


No, you want to save your Pages document to ensure you have a backup. Then click on the Files menu until you get to Export to


Figure 11 exporting from Pages


You can choose to export in the current .docx format or the older .doc format. 


Figure 12 5 export options for Pages


If you have more questions, please put them in the comments or e-mail me at the address at the top of the blog. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




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