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Re: st: documentation Stata tips : any wrong with counting on googling?

From   Eric Booth <>
Subject   Re: st: documentation Stata tips : any wrong with counting on googling?
Date   Mon, 5 Apr 2010 14:09:30 -0500



I've tried out several different ways of arranging my scratchpad of Stata notes/ideas.  For me, there were several important factors to consider before deciding on an approach:  

(1) what platform(s) do you use ? (e.g. windows, mac, linux, iphone, multiple, etc.)
(2) are you willing to pay for a solution? or do you want a freeware option only?
(3) do you want to keep/organize text notes only? or do you have a need to keep with these notes any kind of PDFs, bookmark links, images, etc?
(4) do you want your notes to be cloud/web-based, local, or both?

You can always start with a text editor or word processor with copied/pasted notes kept in a single file or several files across some folders.  This is increasingly easier to search as OSs add indexing capabilities that allow you to quickly search your file contents.  You can also use the "find" command at the Windows command prompt,  the "grep" command in *nix (see: ), "mdfind" in OSX,  or stata packages like -find- (from SSC)  As Martin mentioned, -findit- is invaluable for quickly searching Stata files/articles/tips both locally and online.

You also asked about information stored locally vs. online:  
You could use Google Desktop to search local and web results in the same window, though I've seen some mention about Google Desktop not searching the contents of do-files, so you would want to do this only if you are storing your notes in a Google-able file format (see:  
For your question about relying on Google, I've had mixed results.  Occasionally, I've gone back to find something and it was no longer online and it had been wiped from Google's cache.  After this happened a few times, I increased the frequency with which I was copying/pasting snippets, notes, & attachments to my hard drive when I think they are really important.  Also, I like to make my own notes about things I find online, so storing a local copy allows me to annotate these files (there are bookmark sites/programs that will allow you to store links along with your comments about the links--see Google Reader for an example if this is what you are looking for)

Back to the 4 factors above, if you want something beyond a text editor/word processor that will let you include attachments, copy/paste snippets/tips, include bookmarks/links, and is accessible across the internet and all the platforms mentioned above--then I suggest Evernote (  The biggest downside here is that if you work with attachments you can use up your 40 mb monthly limit for the freeware version, and you'd need to switch to the paid version  (about $45 a year).  (Instead of dragging big attachments, like PDFs,  to Evernote, you can put a link to it's location on your harddrive.  You lose the ability to sync the attachments across machines,  but if that's not important to you, then you can easily avoid upgrading to the payware version).  If you're willing to pay for this kind of software, you might also explore MS Onenote (

At one point I was using the free Google Docs to store my notes, attachments, and bookmarks, and this seemed to work pretty well (Google Docs has some, limited functionality off-line if you are using Google Gears or a Chrome browser).  A strong advantage of this is the ability to easily make these public and work collaboratively online on a document.  I played with Google Wave since you could easily attach documents, work collaboratively, and play back the progression of a file--but it was too gimmicky for me (I've got invites left for G. Wave if anyone wants one).   In the end, the UI was smoother and faster with Evernote, so I made the switch.  

The last thing I've tried for this is a wiki that can be used locally or selectively posted online for others to access.  This is a link-based system for storing your information and the learning curve can sometimes be a bit steeper than the other solutions I've mentioned.  See this link for some free wiki software:    I tried tiddlywiki, but quickly abandoned it (

For any of these products, if you try to send snippets of code to Stata, you are likely to be bit by the same issues as working with any word processor (, so I use QuickCursor (OSX only, see: to quickly send plaintext code from these programs to a text editor that works with Stata (I use TextWrangler).

Good luck, 

Eric A. Booth
Public Policy Research Institute
Texas A&M University
Office: +979.845.6754

On Apr 4, 2010, at 11:52 AM, Stas Kolenikov wrote:

> You'd probably want to organize your tips using some sort of tag cloud
> system. An example is bibliographic system CiteULike (e.g. my refs are
> at I don't really know if you
> can find any software to organize it, but I am pretty sure you can
> bookmark links to Statalist archive with tags using social bookmarking
> website (of which I don't know any, but I often see links such as
> "Post to to..." and a collection of 5 or so websites of this
> functionality). If you feel that your collection has become difficult
> to manage, you'd probably find yourself spending a day to reorganize
> it, and most researchers will find it too taxing.
> On Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 12:32 PM, Amanda Fu <> wrote:
>> Dear Statalist,
>> Sorry that my question is not directly about using Stata. I was
>> wondering if anyone could give some suggestion on how to efficiently
>> take notes or document the tips of using Stata.
>> I used to use the traditional way that I learned from elementary
>> school : When I found some Stata tips are useful, I copied and pasted
>> or typed them in a word file for use in the future. But then I notice
>> when I want to find out how to deal with a particular problem, usually
>> it is faster to simply google it than to check it in the "Stata tips"
>> file.
>> Therefore, I would like to know if someone could give me some
>> suggestions on documentation the Stata tips or introduce his/her
>> practices for this. In addition, Is there any severe disadvantage of
>> counting on  the googling way?
>> Thank you!
>> Best regards,
>> Mandy
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> -- 
> Stas Kolenikov, also found at
> Small print: I use this email account for mailing lists only.
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