[Tex/LaTex] How to keep track of necessary changes (“todo”) for a large document


Working on my Ph.D. thesis I use the fixme package to add notes and comments to my pdflatex document and I have defined several types of notes for easily seeing the difference between "substantial" changes (like "text might be wrong" or "there is some info missing") and "cosmetic" changes (like "alignment of this table is not perfect" …).

I have loads of notes in my document now and I'm quite desperate, as it seems impossible to get an overview of the changes to make and to sort them in order to be sure to do the most important ones first and make some time management and planning not to loose too much time just for creating one beautiful graph.

Does anyone have a good solution or workflow to

  • efficiently edit a large document like a thesis or book
  • and keep track of notes, ideas and things to do?

Some thoughts:
It would be great if there was a possibility to create kind of an "anchor" in the source code (or pdf), so that I could jump there with a hyperlink from the todo note directly.

I think that I'd need an external solution which allows me to sort, re-arrange and tag those notes for prioritizing and overview – maybe with a mind map or a table which can be filtered, sorted and rearranged.
On the other hand, I'd like to leave them in the latex document, so that while looking at a certain page I can see the corresponding notes.
But it does not make much sense to type them in the LaTeX-editor and then re-type them in the external application again, but all that sounds very complicated to me. 🙁

Best Answer

I've used a combination of fixme and todonotes for my thesis to achieve this effect, where the first page contains hyperlinks to the places that need attention. You can see source of my thesis here.

The fixme package has extensive facilities for prioritizing and formatting your list of corrections, but personally I think that is way overkill for a single-person project like a thesis. I just used a single type of fixme note. In my opinion you just want to have a way to keep track of things you need to come back to, and let readers of your drafts know which parts are due for extra attention: by the time you've pondered whether this is a "warning" or a "note" or a "fatal", and whether it is "anchored" or not, and all the other options the package gives you, you may as well have just fixed the problem in the first place. So, my advice is don't try to be too complicated. There are already ample possibilities to procrastinate while trying to write a thesis, so don't give yourself even more.

EDIT: for your question about linking back from the todo notes to the latex source, look into SyncTeX, as described in answers to this question. In a comment, you mentioned that you use Skim, which I believe can be configured to use SyncTeX.