[Taxacom] Excel keys

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at alumni.wesleyan.edu
Thu Aug 31 02:42:44 CDT 2006


A number of people have asked for this, so I thought I'd just post it to 
the list.  The system arose out of a need to make keys that could be 
constantly added to as new species were found without having to 
painstakingly change three or four numbers in every couplet, which 
inevitably leads to lots of errors.  It's more of a method than a 
template per se, and I found it to be an enormous time-saver.  It's 
especially useful for making keys where the number of taxa is unknown or 
not constant, such as revisions with lots of new species, regional 
faunas, and creating simplified keys for technicians.

The Excel file contains one of my keys so you can see how it works.  The 
couplets are numbered with "real" numbers, the rest being cell 
references.  The couplet numbers and back-references are formatted with 
a period and parentheses, and you can change them to whatever you want.  
Once you've written the key in this way, if you want to add a couplet 
you insert three lines (or however many you need) and just change the 
references that go to the couplet you pushed down.  Ditto for removing 
couplets.  Once you're finished editing, go to the top and select the 
first three cells of the first column (1, -, and a blank), grab the 
little knob in the lower left of the selection, and drag down to 
renumber the couplets (if the knob isn't there, go into Options or 
Preferences and check "Allow cell drag and drop").  All of the 
references will now be automatically updated to the new couplet 
numbering scheme.

If you're putting it into a manuscript, when you're finished you can 
copy and paste it into the Word document (using paste special, 
unformatted text).  The formatting I use for the key (tabs and indents) 
is in the style "Key", so you can import it directly into another 
document.  

If anyone has suggestions for how to improve it, please let me know.  
The biggest problem I have is that there seems to be no way to move 
italicized text (if you paste it as formatted text into Word, it comes 
as a table).  Thus you need to italicize species names manually, which 
would not be a big deal unless you have a huge key or you need to go 
back and make edits in the Excel file after pasting it once.  But trust 
me, it's a lot easier to italicize the names over again than to change 
the numbers.

Karl
=====================
Karl Magnacca
UC-Berkeley, ESPM Dept.
137 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720

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