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  1. #1
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    Nota Bene for Academic Writing

    I recently switched this semester from Word to Nota Bene (http://notabene.com) for my academic writing word processor (I still keep Word around for work purposes). On the Mac, I had already switched from Word to Nisus Writer Pro for academic writing. I was having issues with Word's performance and stability on longer documents, plus some issues with the way Word handled biblical language fonts (even though it has RTL language support).

    So far, I've been pleased with Nota Bene. Performance and stability seem solid, plus it does an excellent job handling style manual formatting (the built in Turabian templates make formatting my academic papers effortless), and the built-in citation manager (Ibidem) and built-in indexer and search engine (Orbis) have really streamlined my workflow and made my academic research go more smoothly. I also picked up the two addon modules Lingua so I would have biblical language support and Archiva so I can search my college's online library for bibliographic records.

    I am curious if anyone else on Windows Secrets Lounge has used Nota Bene for academic writing and how they have felt it compares to using Word for academic writing.

    Thanks!

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    From what I know of Nota Bene, it's not truly Unicode compliant (at least in NB 10 & 11), which is a real hassle for working with anything other than ASCII text; it also has a steep learning curve.

    On PCs, at least, Word doesn't have any particular performance and stability issues with most documents, which can contain up to 32Mb of text and have an overall file size of up to 512Mb. The Mac version of Word has always been the poor cousin, lagging behind in both areas. That said, performance will always be better with smaller files, no matter which word processor you use. Word, too, supports Turabian (6th Ed) referencing, though I don't know how well it conforms with Turabian's referencing formats. I suspect, though, you'd find EndNote, which works as a Word Addin, does a better job of referencing than Word's built-in tools and supports the downloading of references from on-line databases, etc., which Word doesn't do.
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    That's been one issue I've been worried about Nota Bene in terms of Unicode compliance. So far, it hasn't been an issue with the documents I've worked in, but it is something I'll need to watch out for the future.

    So far, I've enjoyed the integration of Nota Bene+Orbis+Ibidem+Archiva. It has really streamlined my academic workflow and made academic research and writing less "stressful" from the word processor standpoint.

    The Mac version of Word has always struggled behind the PC version. The latest build finally adds some great features but also introduces more glitches and performance issues. I'm not sure why on the PC version I've had performance/stability issues. I wonder if it's the specialized fonts I use that has caused issues (SBL Greek and Hebrew).

    I've heard good things about EndNote, and it is probably more powerful and up-to-date than Word's built in reference manager. I've also heard good things about Zotero. I was considering Word+Zotero or EndNote for academic writing, but I have been pleased with Nota Bene. It does have a learning curve, but once I mastered it, the integration is really handy.

    I still have to use Word for some things and for some final document exporting. While a lot of times I can PDF my academic documents (which Nota Bene handles out of the box), some software programs require Word/docx, so there are times when I still have to turn to Word for some things.

    I installed the WordPerfect trial to see if it would be of any use to me, and it horribly butchered my fonts. When I called Corel to ask about how they handle Hebrew and Greek fonts, they didn't know what I was talking about (they were just trying to sell me a product). I don't see any reason to keep WordPerfect around. Even the law offices here I do IT consulting for have pretty much moved to Word.
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Parker View Post
    I'm not sure why on the PC version I've had performance/stability issues. I wonder if it's the specialized fonts I use that has caused issues (SBL Greek and Hebrew).
    Aside from problems relating to corrupt documents, stability issues with Word are often attributable to dodgy 3rd-party addins; at other times, some stray process or the odd lost byte in a program file causes the problem and a quick repair (via Start > Windows Control Panel > Programs > Programs & Features > Microsoft Office (version) > Change > Repair) usually fixes that. A couple of other problem areas can stem from corrupt templates or Word's own Building Blocks file, but those are relatively uncommon. I doubt your fonts were the problem, though it's always possible for them, too, to get corrupted by some stray process (even that's quite unlikely IMHO).
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    True about the templates, and I was using a template I downloaded from my college when everything went wacky with Word. It's possibly it was corrupted and I didn't realize it. I could try downloading a fresh copy and see what happens, and if their copy is flat corrupted, message the college and get a fresh one generated on their end.
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

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    Nathan, are you aware of LaTeX? It's a typesetting program, mainly for technical or scientific papers, but appears to be used for other disciplines. It's 25 years since I used it and it wasn't wysiwyg then, but it might be now!

    Of course it may be that you don't want to start again or it doesn't have all of what you want, if so just ignore this post!
    Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand

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    I've heard of it but haven't discovered how I can best take advantage of it. I've been trying to wrap my head around exactly how it works and how I get started with it. It sounds interesting though!
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

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