Sunday, 24 January 2010

A handy little tool for authors

If, like me, you are writing a novel that requires a great deal of research; there is a rather nice Firefox add-on available which you will find very useful.
(If you're using Firefox... and with all the holes in IE6, IE7, and IE8; you really should be!)

It's called Zotero, and is a little like EndNote: but, much easier to use. It helps you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work... in the web browser itself, and appears as a button at the bottom right of the web browser page. With this little application you can say goodbye to "copy & paste."

Not only can it be used to bookmark information, but it also permits its user to highlight or add sticky notes to pages. Furthermore, it sports an impressive search capability, and also allows users to drag and drop highlighted information directly into a note, eliminating the need to press a "clip" or "paste" button.

To get started with a new notebook, you will only need to press an icon titled "New Standalone Note" and begin to type into a blank page in the 3rd column of the Zotero pane. Next, highlight any information from the internet that is of particular interest to you, just as you would do if you were preparing to copy and paste it into a document. However, instead of needing to worry about opening up a Word document, you can simply drag the info directly into the notebook. Here, it can be modified, and can later be exported by being dragged outside of the notebook to a desired spot.

In addition to this convenient drag and drop feature, Zotero also permits users to simply record a page's URL, as well as record a screen-shot of the page.

Here's a screen-shot of the Zotero work space:



Whilst I was researching the fourth book, I ended up with folders full of text files which were really time-consuming to check out. I just wish I had discovered Zotero earlier!

Check it out here:

http://www.zotero.org/

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