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In Pages, I want to write a document that has two columns: One for the main text, and the other for annotations.

For example: Say I write a paragraph in the main text talking about the many varieties of poodles, and which of them have ever turned vigilante, worn Luchador masks, and roamed the country in a '67 Chevy dispensing justice. Then of course I'd need to have a summary in the side column referring the reader to the primary sources in the literature.

First issue, is that pages doesn't keep the two columns separate: Once you've filled a page's leftmore column, it scrolls into the right. I want it to scroll to the next page.

Issue two is that even if I manually force the text to line up, using carriage returns to get annotations to line up with primary text, any little change could screw up the formatting of every following page. I want it to be such that I can write an annotation in the right column, and pin it to an invisible anchor in the left column, so it will try to follow that text.

How would you accomplish this?

  • Have you considering using text boxes in a page layout mode? – Alexander Jul 6 '13 at 21:31
  • Though not an answer, have you considered using footnotes? You can change where they appear (end of the page, end of a section or end of the document) and with some messing about with the margins of footers you might get a "vertical" split instead of a horizontal one. – user26787 Jul 7 '13 at 9:39
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Pages is not at all set up to do what you ask. The layout in iBooks author is superior to Pages, but you can't easily share that work across platforms and until the next versions of Apple OS ship (presumably in the fall of 2013) - iBooks author lets you design on Mac only and read on iPad only.

The text in multiple columns flows from the bottom of one column and up into the next. Additions and deletions will not align well unless you use a table structure to hold paragraphs and enforce the right-left constraint so that one comment isn't higher or lower vertically than the text for which it corresponds.

Placing text in a table

Hopefully tables works for you, as your other option in Pages is to use the comments or track changes feature to anchor some amount of text to another specific portion of text. These items do print nicely, and you might find you can use the whole width of your page and let the software reduce things to fit as needed.

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