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Creating Outlines in PocketBible/MyBible Notes

Posted on: December 6th, 2008 by Craig Rairdin 5 Comments

The new version of MyBible now supports HTML tags. PocketBible for Windows Mobile and Windows desktop also support HTML tags. This gives you some very nice formatting options.

HTML is a “mark-up language” that allows you to control text formatting by inserting special “tags” in the text. For example, to make a word bold you just put <b> before the word and </b> after the word. This simple example demonstrates the basics of HTML: You have an “open” tag at the beginning (<b>) and a “close” tag at the end (</b>). Both tags are surrounded by less-than and greater-than (< and >). The closing tag has a slash after the less-than (</). The “name” of the tag is “b” in this case.

Remember you can always just type plain text notes in PocketBible or MyBible. There’s no need to worry about HTML tags. But if you want to do some more sophisticated notes, you have that ability if you learn a little HTML.

Ordered Lists

Outlines start with the concept of an ordered list. An ordered list is simply a list with numbers. By creating an ordered list instead of just numbering your items manually, you can re-order the items by using cut-and-paste because there are no numbers actually in the list — the numbers are created by the program when it displays your list.

Ordered lists start with <ol> and end with </ol>. In between those tags are “list items”. List items are the items in your list. They start with <li> and end with </li>. So a simple ordered list would look like this in the note editor:

<ol>
<li>Light</li>
<li>Separation of water</li>
<li>Dry ground; plants</li>
<li>Sun and moon</li>
<li>Fish and birds</li>
<li>Land animals and humans</li>
</ol>

Notice that the list has an open and close tag and each list item has an open and close tag. When you view this note it will look like this:

  1. Light
  2. Separation of water
  3. Dry ground; plants
  4. Sun and moon
  5. Fish and birds
  6. Land animals and humans

Note that there were no numbers in the original text above, but when you view it in PocketBible/MyBible the numbers are automatically inserted.

List Attributes

Before showing you an outline, let me point out a useful feature of ordered lists. HTML tags have names (we’ve seen “b”, “ol” and “li”). They also have “attributes”. An attribute is an optional feature of the tag that controls its appearance. One attribute of the <ol> tag is “type”. We use the type attribute to tell the <ol> tag what numbering system we want to use. If we say “type=A” we’ll get upper case letters instead of numbers. “type=a” gives us lower case letters; “type=I” and “type=”i” are Roman numerals, upper and lower case, respectively. So here’s the same list as above, but with Roman numerals:

<ol type="I">
<li>Light</li>
<li>Separation of water</li>
<li>Dry ground; plants</li>
<li>Sun and moon</li>
<li>Fish and birds</li>
<li>Land animals and humans</li>
</ol>

When rendered in PocketBible/MyBible you’ll see:

  1. Light
  2. Separation of water
  3. Dry ground; plants
  4. Sun and moon
  5. Fish and birds
  6. Land animals and humans

Note one of the advantages of using ordered lists instead of just manually numbering your items: You can make a small change to the <ol> tag and it completely changes how the list is numbered.

Sublists Within a List Item

We now have all the tools we need to create outlines except for one small thing: We need to know that list items can actually contain other lists. That is, instead of a list item being some text like “Separation of water” it can actually contain an entire ordered list. We still have to be careful to include the open and close tag for each ordered list and each list item, and this can get confusing. But if you’re careful it’s not hard to get good at it. Here’s a simple example of including a list inside a list item:

<ol type="I">
<li>Seven Days of Creation
<ol type="A">
<li>Light</li>
<li>Separation of water</li>
<li>Dry ground; plants</li>
<li>Sun and moon</li>
<li>Fish and birds</li>
<li>Land animals and humans</li>
</ol> (This is the end of the sublist under "Seven Days of Creation")
</li> (This is the end of the list item "Seven Days of Creation")
</ol> (This is the end of the main list)

Note that we don’t close the “Seven Days of Creation” list item until the end of the list that is under it. This is important and is what makes the outline work correctly. If you type the above into PocketBible/MyBible (without the italicized comments at the end) this is what you’ll see:

  1. Seven Days of Creation
    1. Light
    2. Separation of water
    3. Dry ground; plants
    4. Sun and moon
    5. Fish and birds
    6. Land animals and humans

Outlines

We now have everything to create a complex outline. Here is the code you would type into the note editor, followed by what it looks like when fully rendered:

<ol type="I">
<li>The Account of Creation (Gen 1:1-2:4)
<ol type="A">
<li>Light</li>
<li>Separation of water</li>
<li>Dry ground; plants</li>
<li>Sun and moon</li>
<li>Fish and birds</li>
<li>Land animals and humans</li>
<li>God rests</li>
</ol></li>
<li>The Man and Woman in Eden
<ol type="A">
<li>Garden of Eden
<ol type="1">
<li>The conditions before
<ol type="a">
<li>No plants</li>
<li>No rain</li>
<li>No people</li>
<li>Springs came up to water the ground</li>
</ol></li>
<li>God plants a garden
<ol type="a">
<li>Where: In the East</li>
<li>Puts the man there</li>
<li>Fruit trees</li>
<li>Tree of Life</li>
<li>Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil</li>
</ol></li>
<li>The river
<ol type="a">
<li>Flows out of Eden</li>
<li>Four branches
<ol type="i">
<li>Pishon</li>
<li>Gihon</li>
<li>Tigris</li>
<li>Euphrates</li>
</ol></li>
</ol></li>
</ol></li>
<li>The Man and Woman
<ol type="1">
<li>Their purpose
<ol type="a">
<li>Tend it</li>
<li>Watch over it</li>
</ol></li>
<li>The warning
<ol type="a">
<li>Eat freely except...</li>
<li>Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil</li>
<li>Eat its fruit = death</li>
</ol></li>
<li>The helper
<ol type="a">
<li>Man was alone; not good</li>
<li>Animal parade</li>
<li>Man sleeps</li>
<li>God creates woman from his rib</li>
<li>Man happy</li>
</ol></li>
</ol></li>
</ol></li>
<li>The Man and Woman Sin</li>
<li>Etc.....</li>
</ol>

  1. The Account of Creation (Gen 1:1-2:4)
    1. Light
    2. Separation of water
    3. Dry ground; plants
    4. Sun and moon
    5. Fish and birds
    6. Land animals and humans
    7. God rests
  2. The Man and Woman in Eden
    1. Garden of Eden
      1. The conditions before
        1. No plants
        2. No rain
        3. No people
        4. Springs came up to water the ground
      2. God plants a garden
        1. Where: In the East
        2. Puts the man there
        3. Fruit trees
        4. Tree of Life
        5. Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
      3. The river
        1. Flows out of Eden
        2. Four branches
          1. Pishon
          2. Gihon
          3. Tigris
          4. Euphrates
    2. The Man and Woman
      1. Their purpose
        1. Tend it
        2. Watch over it
      2. The warning
        1. Eat freely except…
        2. Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
        3. Eat its fruit = death
      3. The helper
        1. Man was alone; not good
        2. Animal parade
        3. Man sleeps
        4. God creates woman from his rib
        5. Man happy
  3. The Man and Woman Sin
  4. Etc…..

5 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Very cool explanation of the HTML comments and a good use for them. Sadly, this is really hard to enter on a mobile device just due to the limited screen real estate. Very cool for the Windows desktop version, though. (Which I’m sure I’ll get one of these days. :) )

  2. You’d think it would be a problem but I’ve taken notes for a couple hundred Sunday mornings now on a Pocket PC or Windows Mobile phone using the “block recognizer” (like the Palm Graffiti input method). I also make use of the “tag helpers” that insert common tags for lists and tables. I do a good job of keeping up. The outline above would probably be two or three sermons and there might be a little more detail in the sermons than what I show above, but that gives you the idea.

    (I should add that our preacher preaches in alliterated outlines, so that makes it a little easier.)

    It just takes a little getting used to in order to figure out where it insert the next list item. :-)

  3. Ken says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the line

    <li> (This is the end of the list item “Seven Days of Creation”)

    should be

    </li> (This is the end of the list item “Seven Days of Creation”)

  4. Thanks for noticing that. I’ve fixed it in the article above.

  5. Bruce Gilliland says:

    What timing! I am building a file with outlines. I had forgotten about the HTML method for outlines and was going to use non-breaking spaces. Thanks for the tips.

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