Pages ’09 Tip: Double-click on endnote number to return to text

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft, Pages
October 1st, 2009 • 3:18 pm

Apple’s word processor Pages takes a resolutely WYSIWYG approach. Gone are the multiple view modes afforded by Microsoft Word.

On the whole, it is a welcome simplification. After all, the paradox at the heart of the very existence of Microsoft Word’s “Normal” view mode (now called “Draft” in Word 2008) is that it’s supposed to be designed for those who don’t want to be slowed down by all the “bells and whistles” of a true WYSIWYG mode (which Word’s “Page Layout” view mode isn’t either, although it gets closer to it), but in actual fact, even Word 2008’s “Draft” view mode is significantly slower and more painful to use than Pages ’09’s regular WYSIWYG view mode.

But WYSIWYG does come with some of its own obvious limitations.

One example is what happens when editing endnotes. By design, endnotes are meant to appear at the end of a document or section. But after you’ve inserted an endnote in your document—which has taken you to the end of the document, where you’ve typed the text of the endnote—you typically want to go back to the main body text to continue entering/editing it.

With a non-WYSIWYG view mode such as Word’s “Normal/Draft” mode, you can view and edit footnotes and endnotes in a separate pane at the bottom of the document’s window. This way, while you are editing an endnote, you can still see the main body text with the endnote reference in context, and you can easily return to it with a simple mouse click.

But in Pages ’09, as soon as you insert an automatic endnote, the application immediately takes you to the end of the document, where the endnotes are. You can no longer view the endnote reference in context.

And what do you do when you are done editing your endnote and want to return to the main body text? There is no obvious control to do this. No “Back to Text” button/command or anything of the kind.

But in fact there is a fairly easy way to return to the text. You can simply double-click on the endnote’s number itself, which causes Pages ’09 to jump back to the corresponding endnote reference in the main body text. It’s not obvious, but once you know it, it’s fairly convenient.

(It works the other way around too. In order to view an existing endnote, you can just double-click on the endnote reference in the body text.)

This does not eliminate the other shortcoming of the WYSIWYG approach, which is that you cannot view the endnote reference in context while editing the endnote itself. And that is part of a more general problem with WYSIWYG, which is that you cannot view two different portions of the same document at the same time. I frequently need to refer to another existing section of the document that I am currently working on. Pages ’09’s WYSIWYG approach forces me to jump back and forth without being able to view two different sections at the same time. It’s frustrating, and forces me to do an excessive amount of double-checking to make sure that all sections of my documents are consistent.

I would feel much more comfortable about my work in Pages ’09 if it offered a way to view two different sections of the same document at the same time, like Word with its control to divide a single document window into two panes or with its command to open the same document in a second document window, which can then be scrolled independently.

In Pages ’09, I am often forced to resort to a clumsy workaround such as creating a copy of my existing document in the Finder and opening that document copy in a separate document window in Pages ’09—which of course is far from an ideal substitute, since the copy is not updated when I make changes to the original, and there is a greater risk of experiencing confusion between the two versions and applying changes/edits to the wrong version.

So WYSIWYG orthodoxy has its limits, and I wish Apple would realize this. Without resorting to the multiplicity of view modes so generously offered by Microsoft, it could at least offer the option to open the same document in a second window that can be scrolled independently. Both windows would be WYSIWYG. They just would enable you to view two different sections of the document (endnotes and endnote references, or any sections) at the same time.

Unfortunately, I have submitted this “enhancement request” to Apple multiple times, so far without any success.

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