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Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition by Bill Rosenblatt, Eric S. Raymond, Marc Loy, James Elliott, Debra Cameron

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Using Outline Mode

When you're writing something, whether it's a book, a long paper, or a technical specification, getting a sense of organization as you go along is frequently difficult. Without a sense of structure, it is hard to expand an outline smoothly into a longer paper or to reorganize a paper as you go along. The words get in the way of your headings, making it hard to see the forest for the trees.

Outline mode provides a built-in solution to this problem. This mode gives you the ability to hide or display text selectively, based on its relationship to the structure of your document. For example, you can hide all of your document's text except for its headings, thereby giving you a feel for the document's shape. When you're looking at the headings, you can focus on structure without being concerned about individual paragraphs. When you've solved your structural problems, you can make the text reappear.

Outline mode is more useful for documents with several levels of headings (or for long programs) than for plain outlines containing very little text. The longer a document is, the harder it is to get a quick feel for the overall structure; it is in such a situation that outline mode's ability to hide and show portions of the text comes in handy.

Outline mode requires you to follow some special conventions in your outline or document. Figure 7-1 shows an outline in traditional format and the same outline prepared for outline mode. On the left, we show a "traditional" outline; ...

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