An Org Mode Cookbook

As you all know, I'm always talking up Org Mode and encouraging people to try it out. Org is so flexible that I spend a large percentage of my Emacs time in it. Where others might use a spreadsheet, I just use an Org table with automatic column or row calculations. Where others use Word or some like spawn of the devil, I use Org Mode and export it to whatever form I need. Where others torture themselves by writing blog posts in WordPress's built-in editor, I use Org Mode with all the power of Emacs and then automatically post it to the Irreal site with org2blog/wp.

All that capability comes with a downside, though. It's hard to get started and learn what you can do. Like Emacs itself, it's easy to be overwhelmed by sheer magnitude of what's included in the box. Until now, the most useful sources of information were the Org Manual (of course), and Bernt Hansen's Org Mode - Organize Your Life In Plain Text. Hansen's article is particularly useful because it's a (constantly updated) Org file that documents how he uses Org Mode along with examples that demonstrate the various aspects of Org. The examples serve as an excellent go-by for the new user. When I was first starting with Org, I'd find an example of what I was trying to do in his document and mimic what he did. If you're an Org Mode user (new or not) you really should take a look at it.

Now Eric Neilsen has produced a document similar but complementary to Hansen's. His Emacs org-mode examples and cookbook is like Hansen's Organize Your Life In Plain Text in that it serves as a cookbook with recipes for performing various tasks in Org Mode. Although there is a bit of overlap, Neilsen concentrates on producing LaTeX documents and with interacting with Python and R. While Hansen's document is (mostly) concerned with things a consultant might want to do, Neilsen's is more oriented to the needs of a researcher. His guide will be especially useful to someone wanting to produce publishable papers—especially for papers produced using the reproducible research model.

Neilsen's cookbook is an excellent addition to the must-have Org documentation. I've added it to my Docs bookmark in my browser. Take a few minutes to look it over and I'm sure you'll want to do the same thing.

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  • I've been trying to make a spreadsheet with an org mode table. Somehow I've gotten it into a state where when I try to evaluate the current formulas nearly all of the cells in the table are affected in some geometrically increasing way and all of the values become huge and obviously wrong. Debugging which formula is causing this has almost got me ready to give up and go back to libreoffice.

    Is there some way to edit the formula specific to a cell? As far as I can tell I have to work with this:

    #+TBLFM: $4=vsum(@2..@24)::$5=$2+($3*24)::$6=$5*120::$7=$6/24::$8=vsum(@2..@24)::$9=$7+$8::@25$2=vsum(@2..@24)

    Not very friendly. :|

    • jcs

      C-c ' will bring up a buffer to edit the formulae. As you scroll down on the list of formulae, the corresponding cell in the table is highlighted. Perhaps that will help you debug the problem.