We want to be able to crowd-source the editing of questions and answers for the haggadah supplement. We can't just take questions "as-is"; among things, links won't work on paper, there may be answers that are somewhat repetitive, and we probably don't want to bring in comments. But we don't want the task to be too onerous either or it'll never get done.

In an answer I will offer a template that, if followed, should allow fairly straightforward transformation from Stack Exchange posts to publishable PDF. Just because I got here first doesn't mean mine is the best way, of course, so please propose other approaches in new answers. Vote up any answers whose instructions you would be willing to follow to submit material for the project. If it's too complicated, vote it down -- just because the poster thinks something is easy doesn't mean it is for everyone else! We have different levels of geekly comfort here. :-)

(Assume that there will be some other place to collect links that aren't yet developed into questions; this is just about the actual editing for publication.)

This question is about the mechanics of assembling the content. Once we have consensus on this, we'll open questions for each part of the haggadah where people can propose questions and answers following the process we decide on in this question. Then later, b"n, the editor of the final document will collect those posts into a single document and make a PDF.

Update: I can't accept the answer until tomorrow, but the answer below has up-votes and no down-votes and it has also been blessed by Jin, who is going to help us with assembly, so I'm calling that "good enough".

  • 1
    Thanks very much for putting in the thought and work to make this template and these examples.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 3:37
  • Thanks for all your help @IsaacMoses. By the way, I'm currently thinking in terms of: view source, copy the HTML for the answer block, paste it into (something), and go from there. At the lowest level the "something" could be an HTML page -- view in a browser and (on a Mac) say "save as PDF". Of course we could also paste it into something that affords richer output, like Word or the like. Our to-be-identified volunteer for compilation gets to pick. :-) Mar 7, 2013 at 4:01
  • Not a bad plan. Actually, copying the formatted text out of the browser and pasting into something like Word may preserve the formatting and "just work." Of course, it may also turn everything bold into H1 plus a page break, or something silly like that.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 4:09
  • Yeah, we can experiment with that; I was assuming that the formatting might get messed up but I haven't actually tried. I understand that modern versions of Word can read HTML and do something reasonable with it. (Also, what any of that will do with Hebrew is an open question...) Mar 7, 2013 at 4:11
  • Actually, copy/paste into Word seems to work quite smoothly. I copied the Kiddush question (containing Hebrew characters) and pasted it into Word 2010 (running on Windows 7), then saved as PDF. You can download the result here: scribd.com/doc/129034874/Kiddush-Sample I could probably complete this process in under a minute.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 4:18
  • Wow, that's great! I don't actually have Word (and the version on my work computer is older), so I wasn't able to test that tonight. The question URLs would need to be fixed because SE "nice-ifies" them for display on the site, but that shouldn't be too much of a hassle. Mar 7, 2013 at 4:25
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    News flash: Jin will be providing us with professional layout and formatting, starting from the posts we collect here. Yay! Mar 8, 2013 at 4:43

3 Answers 3



Question title?

Ploni Asker asked: Question body goes here. Be sure to remove hyperlinks; you can turn them into footnotes or parenthetical comments, or remove them if they're not important enough for a print haggadah. Use the regular markdown formatting. (Hint: if you use the edit link on a question or answer you can cut/paste the original markdown. Don't save your edit, though -- cancel!)

For both questions and answers, feel free to edit for clarity, grammar, tangents, etc.

Reuven Answerer said: include the answer best (in your judgment) for a haggadah/supplement. Keep it focused; if there is tangential information that, while great online, seems like too much for a seder, edit it down. Identify sources but don't include URLs (here).

If other answers cover the same territory but add something small, you can incorporate them with: Shimon Answerer added ... .

Yitzchak Answerer said: if there's a second answer that brings a different perspective, include it here. Try to keep it down to one or two answers; the result should not exceed a page in the PDF (in a reasonable font size). We want these to be short enough that people will use them, but long enough to be worth doing so.


  • Citation that didn't work inline, e.g. a long URL
  • Another one
  • ...

Original question: URL of source question
URLs of contributers

Use your judgment about what links should be called out. I would propose that well-known sources (e.g. Shulchan Aruch, Bavli, etc) can just be named "inline" in the answers; this is for things that don't fit that way.

Here's a cheat sheet to cut/paste from:

## Heading ##

__XXX asked:__ ... 


__XXX said:__ ...





Original question:    

Example 1

Example 2

  • Note: if you look at the source for this post you'll see that the question links are the "raw" links, which the SE engine helpfully turns into the titles. We want the raw link, so just paste it in. Mar 7, 2013 at 2:57
  • Benchmark: it took me about ten minutes to prepare each of the two examples. Most of that time was in reviewing the source material and deciding what to bring in, not the actual formatting and copy-editing. Mar 7, 2013 at 2:58
  • I kinda liked the intro "My four-year-old son asked me this right after Kiddush on Friday night:" in the original version of the Kiddush question. It doesn't take up too much space, and it makes the question feel more alive, I think. OTOH, it makes the work look a bit less professional. Depends on what tone we're aiming for,
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 3:26
  • @IsaacMoses, feel free to edit the example, just as you would be free to edit an actual submission. I kept that originally, then thought "asked by Isaac's son" would be nifty. IMO the author gets a bigger vote on stuff like that. Mar 7, 2013 at 3:28
  • I think it depends more on what tone we want to set overall (unless that tone is intentionally diverse) rather than on the desires of the particular original asker.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 3:31
  • @IsaacMoses, I've updated for your suggestions (thanks!) and will clear out obsolete comments. How does this look? Mar 7, 2013 at 3:46
  • Looks great! What do you think of replacing "j.se.com" in URLs with "mi.yodeya.com" for brevity and branding? (We could do this with find/replace in post-production rather than making people do it at this stage.)
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 3:54
  • Good idea, and I agree that this is more easily (and more consistently) done in post-processing. Mar 7, 2013 at 3:55
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    Now I understand how the Talmud was created.
    – jake
    Mar 7, 2013 at 4:52
  • @jake, I think you mean the Hagada :)
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 5:11
  • On tone, I think we will naturally get a diverse tone anyway (we all have different writing styles and the like), and I think that's a feature and not a bug. Mar 7, 2013 at 13:52
  • Related: Do we need to unify things like Hebrew vs. transliteration vs. translation vs. some of the above, or abbreviated citations vs. expanded?
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 15:12
  • @IsaacMoses, my personal inclination is to leave language choices alone (there's really no one right answer), try to expand terse source citations if we can, and consider it meritorious but not require adding Hebrew where there's just transliteration. But that's just my view, and I encourage you to raise the issue in an answer on the other question if you think we should be doing more here. Thanks for all your help! Mar 7, 2013 at 15:23
  • @MonicaCellio raised
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 15:39
  • 1
    I just realized that only the name and not the "asked"/"answered" in "So-and-so asked/answered" is boldfaced. I think the whole phrase (and following colon) should be, as the sort-of title of the section.
    – msh210 Mod
    Mar 14, 2013 at 6:10

Production notes

This post is a place to collect notes by/for Jin (and anyone else working on production).

The table of contents contains section names (Hebrew and English) and links to the questions/answers for reach. Each linked meta post is one entry, ready for cut/paste into the final formatting tool. Note: please do include the URL for the question (as footnotes or similar), but skip the individual contributors -- they've been collected into the final post. All posts have been locked to prevent changes while production is under way.

It would be nice if the domain name in question URLs could be mi.yodeya.com.

We assume that the cover art will be based on the gorgeous site logo. Title suggestion (title plus subtitle):

Hagada - Mi Yodeya?
Real questions and answers that spring from the Passover Seder

Should it be dated? Where?

Copyright notice/CC license?

The supplement should contain the permanent URL for the landing page somewhere. (This is a "pretty name" for the meta post where the PDF will be available for download.) How about https://judaism.stackexchange.com/publications? (Jin/SE doesn't want a haggadah-specific link, looking ahead to other projects in the future.)


I think it's worth considering Libreoffice in addition to or in place of Microsoft Word. Libreoffice is freely available for many platforms, uses open and documented file formats, and has an API for user code.

If only one person (rather than several) does the formatting mentioned in Monica's question, and if that person has Microsoft Word 2010 and prefers using it, then Libreoffice is irrelevant. Otherwise, finding out if it can do the job, and how many persons can or will use it, are relevant concerns.

The balance of this answer provides some feedback on how Isaac Moses's documents look on my system. (Most of the screen captures shown below appeared about 4" high on my screen.)

snap of Isaac Moses's link snap of PDF linked at Isaac Moses's link

The above pictures show the appearances of Isaac Moses's link and its PDF document (129034874-Kiddush-Sample.pdf). [I regard the lightweight sans serif font with oversized capitals as not suitable, although the Hebrew script in that document looks better than the Libreoffice font, below.]

The next picture shows the appearance of the source question on my screen.

snap of Original question

The two pictures below show the source question cut-and-pasted (with no editing to remove links) into Libreoffice writer, and the result of clicking the PDF button, ie about 3 seconds of work to cut, paste, and click the PDF button. snap of paste into Libreoffice snap of PDF from Libreoffice

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    Hi jwpat7 and welcome to meta! Thanks very much for this information. As it turns out, we learned this afternoon that Jin, Stack Exchange's lead designer, will be able to do the layout/production for us, which will look way better than anything we'd be able to do on our own. I don't know what tools he'll be using, but he confirmed that the formatting I proposed for formatting these is something he can work with, so we're good there. I'm really excited by the help and support we're getting from Jin and the SE team! Mar 8, 2013 at 4:42

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