Saturday, June 28, 2008

Exporting Celtx index-card text

On May 31, 2008, in this post, I mentioned I was using the index-card feature in a free program called Celtx to plot out my new novel, Watch.

But I didn't like doing that, because Celtx provided no way to export the index-card text to an ASCII file, or a word-processing document -- I didn't want all my notes trapped in a specific program. And so I devised a method to export them; in broad strokes, this method is useful for getting text out of just about any application that doesn't have an export function (or copy-all-to-clipboard function) of its own. Here's the technique:

Print the index cards using any printer that produces Adobe Acrobat PDF files as output (I happen to use the DocuCom PDF driver, but any PDF printer should work, including the various free ones available online).

Note: it doesn't matter whether you print card borders or background colors; this method works no matter which settings you choose.

Once the PDF is produced, open it in Adobe Reader (the free Acrobat PDF viewer); I'm using version 8 on an XP machine, but, again, any version should work.

Choose Edit | Select All (or just hit Alt-A)

Choose Edit | Copy (or just hit Alt-C)

The text of all your index cards is now in your clipboard; open a word-processing program or notepad program, and paste it in (usually with Edit | Page, or Alt-V).

Hint: I changed all my Celtx scene tags to have the tag names enclosed in curly brackets. Instead of "Plot A," I made it "{Plot A}," etc. That makes it very easy to find the end of each card in your exported text file, so that you can add an extra line space, or otherwise break up the text file into individual cards.

For instance if your scene tags all begin with a curly bracket, then in Microsoft Word searching on:


and replacing it with:


gives you two carriage returns (an extra blank line) at the beginning of each index card's exported text, since ^p -- typed as caret (shift-6) then p -- is Word's code for a carriage return.

(Of course, I'm exporting to WordStar for DOS, not Word!)

It takes longer to explain the exporting process above than it does to do it; the actual process takes only seconds, and works very well, at least for me. Smile

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At June 28, 2008 10:13 PM , Blogger House said...

The current Celtx file format is based on a zipped set of XML/HTML files, so you can also access your data by opening the file in WinZip (or another archiving program) and extracting its contents, then using a regular text editor to access your data. It isn't stored in ASCII directly (there's a lot of mark-up), but it is accessible. Whether this approach is any faster than yours (especially with the requisite clean-up) I don't know.

At June 29, 2008 12:24 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, House. Excellent! Thank you for that!




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