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I'm looking for a stable, user-friendly and flexible way to add marginal numbers / "recitals" to word processing documents. With "marginal numbers" i mean numbers appearing on the page margin, similar to line numbers, but not assigned to each line of a paragraph. Instead, each paragraph should receive a consecutive number on its own. Ideally, with a print layout that differentiates between "left" and "right" pages, the margin number should be placed on the outer margin.

Up to now, i found different solutions, each with pros and cons:

  • "blind table" solution: put the complete text into the inner column of a two-column table, giving each paragraph its own row, so a margin number can be placed in the outer column of each paragraph. Pros: most users know how to handle tables; placing the margin number isn't too complex. Cons: not very flexible, changing between "left" and "right" pages has to be done manually (is there a concept of inner / outer columns)? No way to insert the margin number automatically? How to handle header lines?

  • "numbering" solution: use the numbering functionality and use negative indenting so the number would be placed on the page margin. Pros: very easy to implement, elegant solution by defining a paragraph style with numbering, very easy to use (just apply the paragraph style). Cons: numbers can't be placed on the "outer" margin, they will appear on the left margin in any case.

  • "frame" solution: add a frame to each paragraph that can be placed anywhere on the page. Pros: Flexibility, frame can be placed on the "outer" margin. Cons: quite complex, usability (needs a macro to insert the frame), needs user interaction for every paragraph.

All those solutions should work with the major word processing applications. Are there more / other / better solutions? Is there a "best practice" to follow?

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I could tell you how to do that in LaTeX... ;-) – DevSolar May 22 '12 at 7:47
    
I would be very glad if i could use LaTeX for this! But alas, i need a "office-based" solution... – tohuwawohu May 22 '12 at 7:58
    
With line numbering you dont have to number it line by line, its up to you to number by 5 lines (the number will show at line number 5) or 10 (the number will show at line number 10), etc. – Dima May 24 '12 at 11:36
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The Numbering (bullet) solution is your best bet, you'll have to try to make a macro that changes the RTL text direction on odd pages, only for the bullet and not for the text if that is possible at all... Personally, I wouldn't bother trying to do this in Office. With something more powerful like InDesign I might give it a try, though I'd far rather make a custom application and implement it using WPF, XAML and the Fixed document (XPS) tools. – Louis Somers May 25 '12 at 23:30
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Is it acceptable for the output of word, writer, etc to be passed to another program for further processing? – Jeremy W May 29 '12 at 3:24
up vote 1 down vote accepted
+100

Caught the hint :-) transforming my comment into a potential answer....

The Numbering (bullet) solution is your best bet, you'll have to try to make a macro that changes the RTL text direction on odd pages, only for the bullet and not for the text if that is possible at all...

This approach would be quite a hassle in Office. Something more powerful like InDesign would make the job easier (but not cheaper).

I'd personally rather make a custom application and implement it using WPF, XAML and the Fixed document (XPS) tools. You might find an open source wordpad-like app to start off with, in which you can integrate your custom code. The cost would depend on how good you are at coding and if this is a hobby-project or in your professional time.

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1  
Using RTL text to change between even/odd pages is a good idea. About InDesign: i admit that the results may look much better and there are more layout possibilities, but my users are accustomed to use a word processing software, it may be quite costly to train them to use a DTP software. Regarding a custom application: i fear this would be quite costly, too, since that application should "behave" like a common word processor, and i'm no sure whether only one (important) feature justifes that effort. Nevertheless, your answer is very helpful for me, so i think it's worth the bounty :) – tohuwawohu May 30 '12 at 18:20

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