How to use the outlining features in Curio

How to use the outlining features in Curio
Quick Mac Tip, 26 February 2012

If you’ve ever used Outlining software you may think of it as something only writers would use. But Christine Golden has found it can be very handy for planning websites. In this guest Tip she explains how to use Curio for outlining.

Why Outline?

Until recently I believed that outlining was only for writers. Lately I’ve discovered at least two other uses. The first is something I picked up from studying the Getting Things Done® system. Some GTD’ers use outlining software to store reference materials. This is how I use Evernote, which integrates well with Curio.

Christine Golden. Christine Golden often says she was born a couple of decades too early. At 50-something, she has finally found her calling in the magical world of web design and development. She works as a freelancer helping environmental professionals and green business owners make a place for themselves on the internet.

The second new use I’ve found for outlines is in planning HTML5 websites.

I was surprised to find that HTML5 includes an outlining algorithm in its spec. It was this discovery that led me to the revelation that planning the organization of website content, in ways that are semantically robust, could best be done with an outline.

But I needed an outliner whose parts could be easily moved around and expanded and collapsed. Curio’s outline function does this and more.

You may like to also read Christine Golden’s How to gather resources for brainstorming in Curio Tip.

Begin with a List

From an Idea Space in Curio, open a List. Use Insert > List from the menu, ⌃⌘L from the keyboard, or click on the List icon in the toolbar.

The last method will open the list style gallery. To skip the gallery and just open a default List, hold down Shift while clicking on the icon.

Begin with a List.

Begin with a List.

Select the List figure and go to the Shelf on the right side of the idea space. From the Inspector, choose the Display tab and you will see a drop down list of prefixes in the List panel. Select the style of numbering you want for your outline. Be sure the Allow expanding/collapsing checkbox is selected.

Develop Your Outline

Begin to fill in your outline, tabbing to indent a field, and shift-tab to outdent.

Drag any outline level to move it and its child elements to a different part of the hierarchy. They will be correctly re-numbered automatically.

Copy and paste levels by holding Option as you drag.

All of these changes will be automatically re-numbered.

As your outline becomes more complex, you can collapse and expand levels using the small arrows next to the prefix.

Format Your Outline

You can easily format all equivalent levels at once to make them more distinct. For example, I chose to make the top levels bold and red. To do this, select any one of the top-level elements.

Format all equivalent levels at once.

Format all equivalent levels at once.

From the Shelf’s Inspector go to the Figure tab and make the changes you want from the Text panel. You will see that all the same-level elements change.

Flag Individual Elements

Perhaps you want to flag a particular element that you are still deciding where to place, or that needs some additional research. This is where the Meta tab comes in.

Flag a particular element.

Flag a particular element.

Choose the field that you wish to flag. In the Tags panel you will find several ready made flags you can use.

Make Notes as you Work

Keep notes on the entire outline or on any one particular element. Select the List figure or a field, go to the Notes tab under the Inspector and make your notes.

Keep notes on the entire outline or on any one particular element.

Keep notes on the entire outline or on any one particular element.

Once you click anywhere out of the Notes field, a small note icon appears next to the outline element. Hover over the icon to see your notes.

Effective project planning

Using a powerful outlining tool makes planning a project much more effective. And the easy formatting that Curio offers makes it a cinch to communicate your plan more clearly and get approval from busy clients or supervisors.

Do you use an outlining tool? Do you use Curio? Let us know in the Comments how this Tip helped you.

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