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MellelHacks, or: How to Beat the System with Mellel!

MellelHacks, or: How to Beat the System with Mellel!

From time to time, we get some questions from our users, asking how to do A, or where to find B. Hence, We thought we’d share the wisdom by jotting down some useful tips.
If after reading this, you’re still unsure about a certain aspect, either check out our comprehensive tutorials section, visit our forum, or contact us here.

Aaaaaaaaaand, off we go for the tips themselves:


MellelHack #9: Perfect Fit

No two languages are exactly alike, and fonts design reflects this.

The X-height in the font may differ, and also how deep the font ‘sinks’ or ‘elevates’ below the baseline. That creates a problem matching two fonts used with two different language scripts within the text.

To remedy this and set the perfect size fit, set the Secondary font size (under Options in the Character Style palette) bigger (or smaller) than the main font.



MellelHack #8: Finding the X

Mellel’s cross-reference feature is perfect in every conceivable way. You can cross-reference hundreds of places, and they all update correctly with every change you make to the document.

But sometimes, especially when you have a very long document with lots of references, you need to be completely sure. And for that, there’s nothing more reassuring than reviewing your references… except there are lots of them, and this can be a very time-consuming process.

Mellel’s References palette turns this into a short and painless task. You will find an option to check all the references one by one, but also an option to check only the doubtful ones, about which Mellel is not 100 percent sure everything is on the up and up. Usually, there is about one of those in every 500 references. But, hey, nobody’s perfect, right?



MellelHack #7: Agent G

Here’s something you’ll really like: There are things that need special treatment in every text. For example, you need certain symbols to be larger (or smaller), up or down a couple of points, in uppercase or small caps, with tracking — the options are endless.

It is possible to create a character style for every one of these options and use it whenever you want, but this conflicts with the general preference to minimize the number of character styles you use. With a book, you’ll use one or two body styles, rarely more than three.

Mellel helps you here. Every character style supports up to eight different variations, any of which can be completely different from the others. Most users set variation A as regular typeface, B for bold, C for italics, and D for bold italics. Another four can be used for special cases. For example, you can set variation G for symbols or inline images, specifying them with a baseline shift and other attributes that will make them look just right. You press the F7 key, add the symbol, press F1 to go back to the regular text, and move on. That saves you time.



MellelHack #6: Where am I, Really?
Sometimes it’s not easy to move around and get back to where you came from. For when you check things here, jump there, and then go to a third place, the Go To Page option is useful, but the Mellel Outline is even more useful. Where was I exactly before all this jumping around? This simple tip will help you return quickly to where you were.

This is what you need to do:
A. Open the Edit Title flows from the auto title palette and create a new tag level called “Here I am” (or “Here I was” — actually, you can call it what you want).
B. Make sure that this tag level’s content is something recognizable (I usually name it “Here I am”).
C. Now, wherever it is you wish to return, simply enter this tag level. The next time you get lost, you’ll be able to spot this easily in the Outline pane.

Another small tip: if you make the tag level easy to spot (e.g., with a background, marker, tag, etc.) you’ll be able to see it more easily!



MellelHack #5: Virtually Targeted
One hidden gem offered by Mellel is its ability to cross-reference virtual targets. That is, Mellel enables you to create a cross-reference that points to nowhere in particular. Pointing to nowhere is not very useful, but sometimes nowhere becomes somewhere — and in such cases, a virtual target becomes very useful.

For example, let’s say you want to reference a chapter you haven’t written yet. Obviously, because you haven’t written the chapter, you cannot reference it directly, but you can create a cross-reference that points to an appropriately named virtual target (e.g., “the chapter about somewhere”). Later on, when you have created the chapter, you can use any auto title heading or any bookmark you may add to “tie” things together and name it as the virtual target.

That’s good, of course, but sometimes things slip and you forget to tie things together and the virtual target reference you’ve created still points to nowhere. Never fear – Mellel’s Reference palette allows you to browse through your virtual or ambiguous targets. No X-ref is left behind.



MellelHack #4: Statistics are Tricky
Mark Twain’s dour dictum about statistics notwithstanding, Mellel’s Statistics palette is rather useful. Not only does it count characters and words (generally and within a selection), it also counts notes, tables, auto titles, citations, misdemeanors (just wanted to make sure you’re reading this), and more.

That said, some cheap bastards (if you’re getting paid by the character) or some forward thinking and sensible bastards (if you’re paying by the character) demand that you calculate the number of characters in the text with and without blank characters, break characters, and punctuation.
To the rescue comes Mellel’s Preferences, under the General tab, which allows you to turn various counts of characters on and off. Very useful for translators and such.



MellelHack #3: What (Still) Needs to be Done
A problem that every lazy writer faces from time to time is how to mark those parts of a text he ought to have completed but didn’t. In other words, those pesky TBD parts. Mellel’s metadata options for outlining provides a neat way to do just that. When you reach a part of a text that still needs work, you can open the Outline, click to open the correct header and click a marker.
Later on, you can use the Filter option at the bottom of the Outline to search for any header marked this way, et voila! – there you have all of them and (even more importantly) only them.

Why not test Mellel’s Outline on a 19th-century book – right here, right now?



MellelHack #2: Quick and Dirty Indexing
Creating an index quickly is a dream that never really comes true. But creating a quick and dirty foundation for an index is quite easy with Mellel. Here’s how:

With the Quick Index panel, you can set Mellel to look for text based on its character attributes. In other words, you can search for and add to the index every heading, italicize text, highlight text, and so on. Once you choose the kinds of things you wish to find, you can turn them quickly, one by one, into index records. With a highly structured text, you can churn out a decent looking foundation for your index in a matter of 30 minutes.



MellelHack #1: The Snooty Hyphen
Hyphens can be a bit of a problem. Mellel, very intelligently, takes great care never to commit the horrible editing error of positioning them at the start of a line, but using a non-breaking hyphen can create a problem when two words separated by the hyphen are moved together to the next line.
What to do? Simple – create a search-and-replace action to find all the non-breaking hyphens and replace them with the same non-breaking hyphen plus a zero-width space. The non-breaking hyphen will break when it’s supposed to break.

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