How to Get Your Writing Out There and Make It Look Good, Part Three: Ulysses Style Exchange

This is the final post of our series on how to use Ulysses for exporting and styling your writings. We illuminated the power of the app’s export feature, and tweaked a Ulysses Style Sheet to let our PDF output shine. To bring it to a close, we’re having a look at Ulysses Style Exchange, a web platform where users can upload, download and rate Ulysses styles.

A Variety of Styles

As you probably know, Ulysses ships with a handful of selected styles for the formatting of your exported writings. You already gave them a shot, and neither one of them is exactly what you need? Or you’re just curious to see what others find useful for their work? Then you should go browsing Ulysses Style Exchange!

Ulysses Style Exchange Home

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“It Isn’t Literature, but Hopefully It Is Workmanlike Prose”

For many novelists, screenplay writers, journalists, bloggers, copywriters and academics, Ulysses is the writing app of choice. We asked some of them to share their stories. In this post, Matt Cawood, journalist from Australia, talks about writing with Ulysses.

Please tell us something about you: Who are you, what is your profession and what are you working on?

I’m a journalist writing about agriculture and the environment, with a few other projects on the side. I live and work in Australia, but have travelled in Europe, Asia and North America on various assignments.

Which role does writing play in your professional life? What are you writing and how much?

Most of my writing involves newspaper articles of around 500-1000 words, but I sometimes need to stretch out to around 3000 words. My writing load varies. Sometimes I may write 4000-5000 words a week; last week, I pushed out more than 7000 words in a few days. It isn’t literature, but hopefully it is workmanlike prose.

(I just used Statistics to sum what I’ve got sitting in Ulysses at the moment: 77,000 words since I last cleaned out my folders in March. I may write a bit more than I think I do.)

Could you describe what you use Ulysses for?

All the writing I do, I do in Ulysses. Articles, essays, transcripts of interviews, notes-to-self.

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Using Tables With Ulysses and Marked

One important benefit of plain text editing is that you’re never locked in to some particular tool or file format. And so it happens that if you’re missing a particular feature from Ulysses, chances are good there is a great tool for just that feature out there.

As it happens, creating and exporting tables is a common task of writing not yet supported by Ulysses. Luckily, thanks to the nature of plain text, working with tables is still possible. If tables are an important part of your work and you happen to be publishing to the web, Marked might be just the right assistant for you. It is a swiss-army knife for exporting Multimarkdown to HTML. You will be able to write in Ulysses and use Marked for exporting.

Setting Up

To get started, either download Marked from the Mac App Store or install the free trial version from the developer’s site. Please make sure you’ve started it at least once after installing. Then, switch back to Ulysses and paste the following text to a blank sheet:

## Cities in Saxony

| City        | Population    | Area      
|-------------|---------------|-----------
| Leipzig     | 520,838       | 297.60km² 
| Dresden     | 525,105       | 328,8km²  
| Chemnitz    | 241,210       | 220,8km² 

This is a simple table written in Multimarkdown. Each row is placed on a line and columns are separated by vertical bars |. The table’s headline and the body of the table are separated by a series of dashes -.

Exporting Tables

Click the export button in the upper right corner and select the plain text exporter tab. Please make sure that Markdown exporting is selected on the bottom of the window. Finally, click the arrow on the right side of the „Send To” button and choose „Marked”. Ulysses will export the document and send the result straight to Marked.

Exporting to Marked

Marked will open up a preview of the generated web page. Inside Marked, you can select among different styles or tweak your style using CSS. When you’re satisfied with the results, just save your document as an HTML file and upload it to your blog.

marked-table-preview

You can create more sophisticated table layouts as well of course. You’ll find all details in the table documentation on the Multimarkdown website.

PS – We recommend Marked because it is an elegant tool for the described workflow. But you’re not bound to use it. Other tools supporting the export of Multimarkdown to HTML will also do, e.g. MultiMarkdown, MultiMarkdown Composer, or Byword.

Explore Your Creativity Promotion: Ulysses 50% Off

Ulysses III 50% OFF

As a reader of this blog you’re probably a owner of Ulysses III already, and hopefully a happy one also. If so, now is a great time to tell your friends about it! As part of the Explore Your Creativity promotion on the Mac App Store, Ulysses is available at half the price for a limited time. Also make sure to check out the other great apps on sale.

Spread the Word: Ulysses on Sale

This is the first time ever since the introduction of Ulysses III in April 2013 that we are offering the app at a discounted price. This promotion is a one-time opportunity and will not return any time soon. So: make sure you don’t miss it and spread the word!

“Ulysses Moves Me Because It’s Software – as Art”

For many novelists, screenplay writers, journalists, bloggers, copywriters and academics, Ulysses is the writing app of choice. We asked some of them to share their stories. In this post, Micah Moss, a Los Angeles-based screenplay writer and novelist, talks about writing and working with Ulysses.

Micah Moss
Micah Moss

Please tell us something about you: Who are you and what are you working on? Which role does writing play in your professional life?

If I had to distill my writing voice into a logline, it would be “Young Adult fantasy writer who loves heartfelt, cinematic storytelling with a quirky, subversive bent.” I’m a bit of a rare bird in that I write screenplays first and then adapt them into novels (or as we say in the biz – “reverse-script adaptations”). I also illustrate my novels (currently watercolor paint is my jam). I’ve been writing in the screenplay format since 2007, of which I’ve penned several short films (some of which I’ve directed, one of which won an award), feature and TV specs, and had the privilege to be repped by some venerable agencies.

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Get More Out of Your Text Statistics

If you’ve ever written a longer text, you certainly wanted to know how much you’ve actually written so far. This is where statistics come in pretty handy. In Ulysses, access to word count or the number of pages is just a click away — simply click the gauge icon on the top right or hit CMD-7 to open the Statistics popover. It’s filled with all sorts of useful information about the current sheet:

The Statistics Popover

However, what if you want to know the average words per sentence? How are the number of pages actually calculated? For this, you need to switch to the settings view of the Statistics HUD. Simply drag the popover at its edges to detach it. Then, click the small gear button at the top right to reveal the settings view:

The Settings View of the Statistics HUD

Here, you can enable (or disable) any metric you want. Don’t want to see a sentence count? Simply untick the corresponding checkmark. You can also adjust how many characters fit into one line (or how many lines fit into one page). Just click the corresponding numbers at the bottom to change these settings — and you’re done!

Since you probably want to use these settings for more than one session, they are remembered between restarts and even synced via iCloud.

“Ulysses Is My Saviour”

For many novelists, screenplay writers, journalists, bloggers, copywriters and academics, Ulysses is the writing app of choice. We asked some of them to share their stories. In this post, travel blogger and writer Jo Fitzsimons talks about writing with Ulysses.

Jo Fitzsimons
Jo Fitzsimons

Please tell us something about you: Who are you, what is your profession and what are you working on? What are you writing and how much?

In 2010 I quit my job as a lawyer in London to become a full-time writer. Although my native country is England, I spend most of my time travelling the world, seeing the sights and writing about it on a freelance basis and also for my blog. However, my big dream is to write fiction and whenever I get a break from my paid work you’ll find me tapping out chapters of my first novel.

I’m a full-time, professional writer so not a day goes by without me opening up my laptop and stringing sentences together.

Could you describe what you use Ulysses for?

I use Ulysees for all three forms of writing that I do – for individual articles that I sell to my clients, for my blog posts and also for writing my fiction novel.

What are the benefits of Ulysses for your kind of writing?

Ulysees is my saviour and I’m not being dramatic when I say that. Before buying the software, my laptop was a mess of files and folders with projects lying around everywhere. Now I use Ulysees to keep me organised and, thanks to the distraction free writing function, focused.

What do you like best about Ulysses? Do you have a favorite feature?

I thought I’d like the distraction free writing function most because the design makes me want to sit down and see words appear on the blank page. However, what truly surprised and impressed me was the ability to create and organise folders. Now, I can keep all of my projects in one place and can know with a quick glance what is next on my to-write list.

Visit Jo’s Blog at www.indianajo.com. It’s a travel resource with a focus on independent and adventure travel.

How to Get Your Writing Out There and Make It Look Good, Part Two: Enrich Your Rich Text

This is the second of our series of posts on how to use Ulysses for exporting and styling your writings. Last time we explored the variety of options offered by Quick Export. Now let’s focus on one specific although rather frequent use case: Rich Text formatting.

Each to His Own

Let’s say you’re a freelance journalist working for a traditional newspaper (printed! on paper!). Your editor – let’s call him Mr. Pound – is a rather old-fashioned gentleman and politely insists on receiving your manuscripts as Microsoft Word-compatible documents. Maybe he even hands you a detailed document named Formatting Guidelines: Font type has to be Times New Roman, size 12pt, line spacing 1.5 etc.

So, how to deal with it? Of course you can send your Rich Text to Word and do the formatting there. But there is a much better option: Spend a little time right now to style your output with a Ulysses Style Sheet and save a lot of time in the future.

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Ulysses Tips: Shortcuts

Depending on what keyboard you’re using it can sometimes be cumbersome to insert markup tags. In some cases the ` is in a hard to reach place or the # requires you to press three buttons simultaneously. Whatever tag causes your fingers to hurt, there is a solution™: Shortcuts to the rescue!

Markup Shortcuts

Right inside Ulysses’ preferences you can assign custom keyboard shortcuts to every markup tag. Open Preferences, switch to the Markup tab, double-click a tag and enter a shortcut in the upper right hand corner. Press OK and you’re done.

Detail view of the inline code markup tag in Ulysses' preferences

Menu Shortcuts

Would you like to attach goals or notes without reaching for the mouse? Do you want to swap the “Three Pane” shortcut (CMD-1) with the “Editor Only” command (CMD-3) because you think it would be more intuitive?

No? Me neither.

However, if you wanted to — we could arrange that too. Let’s say you want to attach goals using your keyboard. Here is what you would need to do:

  1. Open OS X’ System Preferences
  2. Go to Keyboard settings
  3. Switch to the Shortcuts tab
  4. Select “App Shortcuts” in the left column
  5. Click the + button and fill out the form
    • Application: “Ulysses”
    • Menu Title: “Goal…”
    • Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘Up2U

In this case you have to enter “Goal…” because the menu item is located under “Edit” > “Attach” > “Goal…”.

Menu Shortcuts

By the way: this works with whatever menu item you may want to set a shortcut for. You can also change Ulysses’ default shortcuts this way. Just choose the Menu Title accordingly.

“Ulysses Is Like My Writing Desk — I Start It Up and It’s Got Everything I Need”

For many novelists, screenplay writers, journalists, bloggers, copywriters and academics, Ulysses is the writing app of choice. We asked some of them to share their stories. In this post, Lee Hutchinson, senior editor at Ars Technica, talks about writing with Ulysses.

Lee Hutchinson

Which role does writing play in your professional life? What are you writing and how much?

As a senior editor at Ars Technica, I’m writing every single workday. In 2013, I published about 270,000 word at Ars, and I’m on track to clobber that this year. And that’s just the published stuff—I also run the site’s reviews section and have a significant edit role, too. I am glued to my keyboard, all day, every day.

Could you describe what you use Ulysses for?

Ulysses is my primary writing application. I’ll usually do edits and refinements directly in our content management system, but I use Ulysses exclusively for when I’m writing stories—everything from short 200-300 word briefs to monster 10,000+ word long form features. The longest piece I’ve put together in Ulysses so far has been this retrospective on the space shuttle Columbia disaster; the most complicated has been the four-part series I put together on running your own e-mail server — lots of code snippets and funky formatting in parts 2-4.

Why did you choose Ulysses? What are the benefits of Ulysses for your kind of writing? 

I didn’t think anything would sway me from vim, but Ulysses managed to do it though a combination of beautiful typography, fast formatting, and easy export options. Being able to write in markdown and export in vanilla HTML to paste into our WordPress-based CMS is just slick as hell; the fact that I can manage my in work drafts locally is bonus cake. Ulysses is like my writing desk—I start it up and it’s got everything I need, all nicely arrayed. I can pull open the drawer I want, get out the story or stories I need to work on, and just write.

Do you have a favorite feature?

This is a simple little thing, but I love that I can copy a URL to the clipboard, highlight some text, paste the URL, and the highlighted text becomes a link. I know it’s kind of a basic function, but it’s one more thing that none of the other writing apps I tried did—at least not nearly as well.

If you want to read more from Lee, check out the stories he published at Ars Technica.