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Doing Computations in NotebooksActive Elements in Notebooks

1.3.5 Notebooks as Documents

Mathematica notebooks allow you to create documents that can be viewed interactively on screen or printed on paper.

Particularly in larger notebooks, it is common to have chapters, sections and so on, each represented by groups of cells. The extent of these groups is indicated by a bracket on the right.

The grouping of cells in a notebook is indicated by nested brackets on the right.

A group of cells can be either open or closed. When it is open, you can see all the cells in it explicitly. But when it is closed, you see only the first or heading cell in the group.

Large notebooks are often distributed with many closed groups of cells, so that when you first look at the notebook, you see just an outline of its contents. You can then open parts you are interested in by double-clicking the appropriate brackets.

Double-clicking the bracket that spans a group of cells closes the group, leaving only the first cell visible.

When a group is closed, the bracket for it has an arrow at the bottom. Double-clicking this arrow opens the group again.

Each cell within a notebook is assigned a particular style which indicates its role within the notebook. Thus, for example, material intended as input to be executed by the Mathematica kernel is typically in Input style, while text that is intended purely to be read is typically in Text style.

The Mathematica front end provides menus and keyboard shortcuts for creating cells with different styles, and for changing styles of existing cells.

This shows cells in various styles. The styles define not only the format of the cell contents, but also their placement and spacing.

By putting a cell in a particular style, you specify a whole collection of properties for the cell, including for example how large and in what font text should be given.

The Mathematica front end allows you to modify such properties, either for complete cells, or for specific material within cells.

Even within a cell of a particular style, the Mathematica front end allows a wide range of properties to be modified separately.

It is worth realizing that in doing different kinds of things with Mathematica notebooks, you are using different parts of the Mathematica system. Operations such as opening and closing groups of cells, doing animations and playing sounds use only a small part of the Mathematica front end, and these operations are supported by a widely available program known as MathReader that is typically distributed on the main Mathematica CD-ROM.

To be able to create and edit notebooks, you need more of the Mathematica front end. And finally, to be able to actually do computations within a Mathematica notebook, you need a full Mathematica system, with both the front end and the kernel.

Programs required for different kinds of operations with notebooks.

Doing Computations in NotebooksActive Elements in Notebooks