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Hi everyone,

I'm considering purchasing OmniOutliner and am currently looking at the trial version. However, there is one functionality that I can't quite work out which would be a deal breaker for me. I'm a researcher and would like to use OmniOutliner for my literature review. I am currently using excel (see snap shot for how I work). Now, OmniOutliner seems to be so much easier to work with for this purpose, but one thing I can't figure out is how to reorganise all the information in a file by column. For example, when I work in excel, I might click on the 'date of publication' column in order to see all my entries chronologically, or I might click on 'name of journal' to see all the entires per journal. I've tried to do this in omnioutliner, but when I try to sort the number columns nothing happens (I go to 'keep sorted', and when I click on 'highest to lowest' or 'lowest to highest', nothing changes), and when I try to sort text columns, e.g. by name of publication, some of the columns will rearrange themselves but others won't and nothing ends up alphabetical. So, I'm confused.

Am I missing something, or does OmniOutliner not provide this functionality?
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The trick is to create the columns as text or number columns (or whatever), then make sure when you want to sort one column that the other columns have "None" as the "Keep Sorted" value.

For instance, if you select a text column, then right-click it to get the context menu and select "Keep Sorted: Lowest to Highest", then you will not be able to sort by a number column until you de-select this "Keep Sorted" from the text column.

Hope this helps.
There are two varieties of sorts you can apply. You can do a one-time sort, which rearranges the current data, but allows insertion of new data in arbitrary positions, or you can do a persistent sort which will keep rearranging the rows to match the order you have specified.

If you apply a persistent sort, you can use the values of multiple columns to do the sorting; the sorts are applied in column order from left to right. This allows you to sort your research notes first by author, then date of publication within each author's work, for example. The catch is that you may not realize this is happening, because each time you apply a keep sorted setting, it is added to the existing settings instead of acting like a toggle (in other words, choosing to sort by column B does not automatically clear the sorting by column C, it has to be explicitly removed). I suspect this has caused you some confusion.

Have a look at the help for "Sorting" in the built-in help in OmniOutliner. There are some points which I haven't covered here which will be of interest if you use sorting extensively.
Thanks both, this is super useful!!

What rogbar outlined is what I did wrong; I had several columns at 'keep sorted' at the same time.

I love the multiple sort function whpalmer4 described.

Very helpful :)
I just realised that there is no automatic sync like OmniFocus has :( In which case, I will stick with excel for the time being. I work in a windows environment, so I need my iPad versions of my various mac docs to be updated at all times because I don't always have my Air with me.
It's a problem for me, too. You might try keeping your outline file in Dropbox and seeing if that works for you. (Just make sure it's not open on to different devices at the same time.)

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