Beginners Tutorial for Mellel 2.1

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Re: Beginners Tutorial for Mellel 2.1

Post by laup » Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:25 pm

donb wrote:A completely rewritten Beginners Tutorial for Mellel 2.1 has been completed, and should shortly be available for download from the Redlers site, both in pdf and in Mellel form.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions or comments on the new tutorial for 2.1. Although I proofread it several times, inevitably there will be some typesetting errors, and perhaps some items need to be more clearly expressed...

Don Broadribb
How do you want comments? Response in this forum, or otherwise? I've read about half the volume and have caught a few minor glitches; I'll be happy to send those and any that I catch tonight.

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Post by nilfisq » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:50 pm

Hi Don,

I started reading your very well written manual. Here are some observations (mostly typos) so far. Hopefully useful.

in general: maybe it's good to number your chapters (as in the outline view)

p. 6: Details of how to do this are given below, on page 13,

> no such details on p. 13 but on p. 16

p. 15 If you click on one of the tab markers and also on the rectangle beside the words “Tab Lead” you get (...)

> i don't understand what rectangle you mean

p. 26 This is called “Total justification” and is done by pressing the and return keys simultaneously.

> pressing the ... what?

p. 28 Of if you would like to

> Or

p. 33 whether characters are to be superscript or subsript or normal, be underlned

> subscript, underlined

p. 34 it is better to use the Paragraph Menu or the Style Set Menu..

> one period will do :)

p. 37 on your pticular computer

> particular

p. 50 Because Mellel has it own Style Variation method (...) For this purppse

> its, purpose

p. 50 it is still not clear to me what IS the difference between the use of, for instance, apple+B or F2 (why is is better to use F2?)

p. 51 Microsoft Word, however, if you press the command key and i makes you a faked italic form:

> strange sentence

p. 53 The Mellel letters are all genuing (part of the original font).

> genuine

!!! as from page 70 no page numbers displayed !!!

p. 76 Varying by paragraph style

> so if you use different languages in 1 document and want to activate automatic hyphenation, you have to create separate paragraph styles for each of these languages, e.g. Regular French, Regular Hebrew?

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Comments on Tutorial

Post by laup » Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:08 pm


Here are some comments, mostly about typos, some about clarity. I've also noted in bold instances in which I think Mellel should be changed.

The tutorial is quite useful and well written. A noble effort!

22 The "start" versus "indent" distinction is indeed unclear. There should be a single picture showing what all the items in the margins& Tabs box mean. I still don't know what "End" means. Or "Dec. align on" (I could look it up, of course)

26 "done by pressing the" the next word is missing.

42, figure with Character Style box. Shouldn't this picture include "Helvetica" in the list?

50 "FOR EXPERTS." This paragraph understates the problem of interactions among methods. Even a normal user will run into trouble. A related problem here is that if a paragraph-style definition includes a character specification, then changing something like a bibliography item's paragraph style will likely wipe out italics or underlines.

54 Are the rectangles for Pages and MS Word, Times regular, supposed to be blank?

57, middle (Figure 107). Where does this popup come from? Creating keyboard shortcuts is mysterious.

page 70 "to appear" neads a period, and earlier in the sentence you need "on"

71. My page numbers have disappeared (at least in a printed version).

71 "in your header or footer" Should the click be before or after the page-number symbol or does it not matter? This method of fixing page-number problems is nonintuitive; should there not be a menu item under edit called "fix page numbers"?

You might want to suggest that users set the option in preferences to have page breaks and section breaks be marked on the screen image, since these things can be confusing.

CHARACTER STYLES, bottom of page. "that looks like this:"

Should picture follow the next bullet? That is, the keyboard options appear only if one clicks on the either the number or the dash, if there is one. There is no popup option, apparently, for several of the styles (pages, etc.). [/b]Should the hyphens be blue or some such, so as to make more intuitive the existing of an option to be found by clicking on them?

INHERITING STYLES This is a very good hint, but the mechanism is not really one of inheritance as that term is often used.

STYLE SETS. It's a bit of an exaggeration to say that styles sets are unique to Mellel. In Word, one would create a template for what amounts to a style set.

I strongly believel that Mellel should redefine its terms so that defining a "style set" defines everything needed: what is currently called style set, layout, and perhaps some other things related to notes. Also, the mechanisms for specifying these things should be similar from a GUI perspective.

CREATING a STYLE SET There is another important approach: (1) Try to "design" a complete style set a priori, (2) use it and discover shortcomings and errors, (3) fix them. I suspect that many people would try that. This said, I really like your first method.

107 "Tutorial set icon" Where is that? Do you mean the name "Tutorial Set" in Figure 160?
"to make my new set" What if you didn't click the "global" icon? This is one of those confusing concepts in Mellel that merits explanation. Also, isn't the role of the "global" button more for accepting into the current style set style items that perhaps had been entered on a different machine without the particular style set in Application Support?

It seems to me that Mellel is inconsistent as to what changes are automatically made in the style set and which need to be explicitly saved or some such. This is confusing.

page numbers disappear again on my printout, starting on page 108

"click on the lozenge" Is the term "lozenge" immediagely understandable?

"Adding different headers/footers" Shouldn't the default preferences be such as to make breaks visible? Also section names, etc.? I find it very useful to have at the bottom of the page, e.g., "Page; MyPageStyleName+ vi (6 of 32)" with the next page having instead "Page: MyPageStyleName 1 (7 of 32)" That's telling me that there was a break and distinguishing between all pages and just pages in a set. To actually see the breaks, you have to select from the popup box at the bottom of the page (if preferences is set to show any of them )

"in the Layout Menu > Page style click" It's not clear to me when you do and do not need to do something special to save the changes so that they become part of the style set. Sometimes that is automatic.

"From the Insert menu choose Page number" This trick is very important and shoudl be findable by going through the menus, perhaps as "Edit/Fix page numbers"

These correctives presumably exist for page numbers, any autonumber item, and perhaps some other things. Dont' they deserve to be in a section somewher called Troubleshooting?

"The Page Setup details are only saved..." As mentioned earlier, I find it terrible that these aspects are not part and parcel of a Style Set and automatically recorded in the same way as current style-set changes. In the meantime, this note is indeed very important.

114 FOOTNOTES & ENDNOTES I would begin the section by mentioning that Mellel allows you to have footnotes AND endnotes AND temporary notes to the author AND..., i.e., multiple "streams" of notes, some of which may be deleted when the draft is complete.

Question: is there a way to elminate all of the notes of a particular type in one fell swoop, as in an author deleting notes to himself that he made while writing? I suppose that one could use search and replace, and delete the items one by one, but isn't there a simpler way?

117 on sections. I find the section concept in Mellel to be mysterious, perhaps because of my having long been Wordized.
Mellel has page groups, sections, column breaks, page breaks, etc. Isn't there a unified way to deal with all of these more intuitively in a common interface box? Example: any time one wants to restart numbering or change the style of the numbers, or to change columns, restart footnote numbering, or to change headers and footers, one might need to define a new section. There could then be a section-style interface to do all that. Instead, the Section-style box seems to deal only with columns and things like restarting the numbering is done in a way that I see as ad hoc and different.

118, bottom. Why is adjusting how much of a page may be occupied by footnotes not set in precisely the same place as other attributes. As notes on page 116, there are two windows to be considered. Why is there not only one note window or at least, why are they not automatically and rigorously consistent?

On page 123 (unnumbered), you caution about checking for consistency between the two windows. Elaborate. Needing to do such checking violates a principle.

Find Sets. Since this seems important, shouldn't there be a menu item where one could discover how to find the hummers, without pulling out a manual?

COLUMNS "The purpose of the 'Section break' is to tell Mellel that you want to change the number of columns". Hmm. Can't you also restart page numbering, etc., with a new section? As mentioned above, I find this confusing.

Automatically Creating an Outline. I don't believe that one can move things around "with a simple click of the mouse."

Figure 226. Although one can change the names of Level 1, Level 2, etc., they have a distinct hard-wired meaning. They are the unique items (by whatever name) that determine hierarchical level.

At the bottom of the page. "You can change the order by drag and drop." Are there not limitations on what order you can insist upon by drag and drop? I don't believe that you can move Level 3 above Level 2, regardless of what names you give.

What Does "Level" Mean "List palette and system have superseded it" I'm not sure that this is quite right. I also don't know what "system" means here. In any case, I thought that the Autonumbering tool was preferable except, e.g., for numbering items in a list. Where ou say "if you have retitled the first word 'Chapter', then the items that follow are indented somewhat in the Outline pane.", what do you mean by "the first word."

Saving Changes. Again, I find it very confusing as to when one must save and what happens if one does not. Perhaps Mellel should have a more clear question box when you save or quit/


1. A separately printable "cheat sheet" for keyboard commands and other matters. Ideal size: a small two-sided card, perhaps 6" X 9"
2. A section devoted to troubleshooting (such as how to stimulate the numbering system to recover from aphasia)
3. A section devoted entirely to compatibility issues with Word. This would, e.g., (1) emphasize always going through RTF, (2) note obvious things to deal with such as having the desired fonts on all machines used, (3) describe simple work-arounds for collaboration (as on the forum), and (4) itemize the few remaining problems (which I dearly wish I knew).

Again, nice job.


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Post by nilfisq » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:39 pm

in addition to pkensildavis i continue my comments:

Ch. 11, For the same header and footer
"to have Mellel automacally place the Chapter"
> automatically
> and if you want different headers/footers for each chapter? maybe put this information more clearly in this chapter (with an appropriate title)?

Ch. 12 page numbers
"so that the page number will always be on the inside edge of each page"
> is that a logical example? normally you put the page numbers on the outside of each page

Ch. 14 Histiry of hyphenation
"With the introduction of typesetting by computers was introduced by Apple Computer in the 1980s"
> incorrect sentence

Ch. 16 Starting a new page
"shift return on a laptop = forced justification"
> how does this work on a laptop?

p. 92 "click on as style title in the Paragraph Style palette"
> a

p. 100: "As you can see from Figure 153 above"
> 152

p. 109: "In the Layout Menu choose Page style "
> I think the concept of the Layout Menu needs an explanation earlier in the text (or refer to the section in which it is explained)

p. 110: "and label the your new template Professional Letter. "
> the or your

creating style sheets and templates
I think this is a rather complex section for beginners. It belongs to the core functionality of mellel, and maybe it is easy to use, but since it is so different from ms word, i think it would be useful to summarize this issue schematically, on a separate page

also in this stage the reader is eager to know why some style names are preceded by black bullets and why sometimes a + appears in the styles display above the work space

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Post by donb » Sat Sep 09, 2006 9:30 am

Many, many thanks for the notes on my Tutorial posted so far. I am examining each item carefully, and will correct the typing errors in the Tutorial as pointed out; and reply to the Forum when what I have written in the Tutorial is unclear. (As well, of course, rewording the Tutorial text.)

It is easier for me if you send your notes directly to me, at

Again, many thanks, and keep the notes coming.

Don Broadribb

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