Writing on the iPad: Editorial

Abram K-J asked on Twitter how I use Editorial and Drafts on iOS. Instead of trying to cram it in the 140 character limit on Twitter I thought I would do a short write-up here.

Drafts vs. Editorial

Just by saying “Drafts vs. Editorial” is actually misleading because I use them in two completely different ways.

  1. Separation of duties. I find it better, at least for me, to separate two types of text editors. I use one to sit down and do long-form writing in (Editorial) and another for notes (Drafts).
  2. File storage. Drafts works well for sending text out to many different apps/services but it really isn’t made for file storage and easy retrieval.
  3. Workflows. Drafts has a magical ability to concoct workflows for sending text out but Editorial shines by allowing you to run workflows during the writing process.

For my Drafts setup for quick notes you can find my writeup here. I also use Drafts to send text to Evernote, Messages, Google Drive, Dropbox, and a variety of other places.

Editorial

Editorial is a powerful text editor for iOS. It has many more features than I use or could ever dream of using. Powerful but not overwhelming. The power comes in the workflows that either you create (I rarely do) or you can download workflows that other people (much smarter than I!) have created. A workflow can be as simple as creating a Markdown or HTML link from the clipboard to as complex as highlighting the syntax in your document. Below are several reasons I use this app:

  1. It is a joy to write with. I am able to use my TextExpander keyboard shortcuts in the app, which makes writing go that much faster.
  2. The in-app browser is easily accessible if I have to look something up.[1]
  3. There are many workflows that you can install from their vast library from the very simple (finding word count of document) to the complex (converting HTML to Evernote’s formatting).[2]
  4. Taking notes for class[3] or research, writing a paper or long blog post with lots of sections, or any other longer document can get cumbersome to navigate, especially on a smaller iPad screen. Editorial allows you to “fold” paragraphs and rearrange them (image). You can also view the structure of your document by clicking the name at the top (image).
  5. Syntax highlighting in Editorial highlights different parts of speech. If I want to see all my adjectives in the document I just run the syntax workflow to highlight all the adjectives. This is helpful in the writing process because normally I recognize how boring and non-descriptive my adjectives are (image).
  6. Easy to export/copy a Markdown formatted document to HTML for easy posting on WordPress, Squarespace, or whatever blogging platform you use.
  7. Finally, it just looks good. Personally, I think it is one of the better looking text editors on the market.

Editorial Setup

I have a folder in Dropbox where I store all my long-form writing (longer notes, blog posts, papers, etc.).[4] I store these documents in text files in hierarchal folders (image). I use Dropbox because it gives me access to the files in Editorial (iOS), Byword (Mac), or any other text editor that I want to try.

Conclusion

I love Editorial. It makes writing on the iPad a breeze and provides powerful workflows to aid in the writing process whether it be just taking notes on a research project or writing a blog post. I like writing on the iPad because it allows me to focus on the task at hand.[5] Writing on the computer brings about many distractions just due to the sheer fact that you can have many applications open at one time. With the iPad you are in one application and you can focus on the task at hand.

I wouldn’t be able to write about Editorial without posting a couple links from Federico Viticci, the founder of Macstories. Federico works almost exclusively from the iPad and has become a big advocate for Editorial. He is the one that first introduced the app to me from his writing and he is always posting fantastic reviews and other thoughts on the app. If you want to know more it wouldn’t hurt to read his reviews of the app and to check out his iBook:

  1. Editorial 1.1 Review
  2. Editorial 1.2 Review
  3. Writing on the iPad (iBook)

Editorial is $9.99 in the App Store.


  1. The latest update now allows you to also have tabs in your browser instead of just a single window  ↩

  2. A couple handy workflows for blogging: Upload image to Droplr > paste markdown image URL and if you use WordPress this workflow also looks good. There is also a workflow for using Flickr and Google Drive.  ↩

  3. I am trying to go to all handwritten notes because I really do believe that using this “ancient technique” improves retention and helps you pay attention better in class. But taking handwritten notes during a class is a skill that needs to be developed to do it well so every once in awhile I still break out the iPad.  ↩

  4. I use Google Drive for all my other cloud syncing because through my school account we get unlimited space. I find that most apps provide Dropbox support instead of Google Drive so I just store all my text documents in there by using the free tier from Dropbox.  ↩

  5. In case you are wondering I use this bluetooth keyboard.  ↩


Brian Renshaw is pursing a Masters of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, North American Patristics Society, and the Society of Biblical Literature. His research interests range from the Gospels, Catholic Epistles, history of interpretation, theological interpretation of Scripture, and discourse grammar. Regarding his involvement with the Center for Ancient Christian Studies, Brian serves as Director of Digital Production and is also on the editorial staff. Currently, he attends Sojourn East with his wife, Jen Renshaw. You can follow him on Twitter @renshaw330, he blogs at his personal website.