I use word processors like OpenOffice Word as others use page layout software: Only when I want certain control over the final product, want it fast, and don’t demand too much of the product. For regularly produced formatted text I use some version of LaTex, but most of the twentythousandzillion words I write a week go out as HTML via blogs. For all actual writing (lists, notes, text, stuff for blogs, stuff for print, outlines, etc) I use emacs as the starting point. Any good plain text editor would do, but I found that emacs can be made to do tricks that are worth the trouble to learn them.
And it is trouble. The first few times I tried to use emacs I gave up. What finally made it work for me was ignoring the navigation paradigm entirely, forcing emacs to act like gedit/notepad/other standard text editors (where Ctrl-V inserts stuff, for example). Forcing emacs to do things this way breaks some of its functionality, but that is only functionality used by programmers. For writing, emacs out of the box is almost a great idea. Get the right .emacs file and you’re there.
(The .emacs file is the configuration file for the program.)
Following are a few neat tricks you can do with emacs. And, only with emacs. I’ll post a few tricks now and then to keep you interested. But I warn you: emacs is not for everyone.
Produces an ascii table in a new buffer with the character your cursor (‘point’) is on highlighted. As you move point around the table updates.
This may seem a bit obscure to those not doing programming (if you program it makes total sense): After entering Alt-X all you enter a regular expression and hit enter. The regular expression is to match multiple lines in your document. For instance, if I have these lines:
and I enter
the regular expression will match any line with any number of characters preceding and following the letter ‘y’.
Then, a second window pops up with just those lines in it. You can edit them, and as you do so, the lines are updated in the original document.
| … is one of several boxquote related functions.
| The purpose is to provide boxquoteosity to your text.
| The text you are reading now is box quoted thusly.
| I doubt this works well with wrapped text so for actual writers …
| …. this will have limited functionality.