43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Newbie working with plain text: best practices for formatting etc?

Hey all,

I've searched far and wide online and am really surprised not to find very much info on this (perhaps I'm using the wrong search terms!).

After reading Bit Literacy, I decided that I wanted to starting using plain text files more at work, especially for notes. Unfortunately, years of reading 43F has enhanced my fiddly nature, and I'm more focused on trying to format my notes "correctly," or at least to have some sort of standard to stick to.

Does anyone have any best practices (or web resources) for working with text on a page? Currently, I find text files difficult to read (and line breaks confusing).

Any thoughts?

pmenair's picture


This could get ugly. Already we have vi v. emacs (I mentioned emacs just because I like the tables in that mode - I personally use textmate), reStructured text (controversial because of the use of white space, ie. the great perl v. python debate), markdown (useful for html conversion and the decent syntax coloring in textmate but not really very good for structured data in any sense other than just outlining), xml is readable enough v. xml is evil (my bad), etc.

Rather than rehash all that, maybe a link to http://c2.com/cgi/wiki would suffice.

gte910h: For time and billing, I use paper. Not just because it's portable but because I need to see my day as a timeline, dayplanner fashion. Also because relying on the computer to add up my time makes mistakes more likely, in my experience. It's a hassle to convert your physical timeslips into a spreadsheet, or whatever, but forcing yourself to do this makes for accuracy and a better sense of how you're spending your day.

Not trying to talk you into anything - it sounds like you're comfortable with your system. But my experience is that what you gain from computer timekeeping is mainly an illusory sense that you are saving time on the back end (adding up the time, which you should be doing manually and attentively to ensure accuracy), while you make more work for yourself on the capture end (entering data as opposed to just making a mark in your planner).




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »