I am working on some unpublished texts that cover a period of over ten years and many thousands of pages. These texts need to be distilled into key ideas that ideally would be available as a kind of "top layer" document--with the original, more lengthy source document available as a "link" on another layer. Likewise the ability to have another layer of commentary would be very useful.

I am wondering if anyone can suggest software that can handle this. It is a non profit project so a team of volunteers would be using the software. I have been looking at the outlining feature in Ms Word and also Scrivener but wondering if there are any other suggestions.

Perhaps scholars who work on very long documents or translators may have some experience with this kind of challenge. Thanks!

  • I've posted an answer, but I think more information about how you expect to use this software would better help you find a solution. Also I'm not sure this question is on-topic for this site. Jul 30, 2014 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


If your needs are basic: 1) low cost 2) collection of documents 3) links between them

Then it sounds like simple HTML files could do the trick. But if you want more, you could consider storing documents in something like Google Docs. You can add links to other Google docs within a document and Google Docs keeps track of revisions made. It also has basic formatting and outlining capabilities, and supports more and more document types as they improve the product. You could register with Google Apps for Business and set up a central repository, or else you could just use a single Google account and share the documents to whomever you feel needs access.

  • thanks for all the suggestions. The real need is to have an "outline" document with all the summary ideas. Then if someone wants more detail/background on where that summary came from, they could click on that phrase and open up the larger originating text. So far I am looking at Circus Ponies Notebook and Scrivener but will certailing look at all your suggestions too. Thanks again.
    – rose
    Jul 30, 2014 at 18:12

Gimp is a good software for this, so is Dia, and also OODraw.

Here's a link:


OODraw is part of the Open Office Suite, so just google that.

If you're meaning creating annotations and layers when writing then just find a tutorial online; but Open Office has some good templates for their writer software.

  • 2
    Dia might work (It's been a while since I tried it) but I'm not sure Gimp is at all suitable for what the OP needs. Jul 30, 2014 at 17:31
  • I believe GIMP annotates individual images, and would be unwieldy for thousands of pages of text. Jul 31, 2014 at 5:03

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