Standardized Worksheet for Tree Identification

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by BillCr, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Would it be possible for a BCUSA member forester, if they are willing and BCUSA approves, to create a simple, standardized worksheet to enable members seeking to ID trees in their area with a worksheet to fill out and then submit?

    I'm thinking this would both help the submitting member, and also all viewing members because it would be standardized and could be printed off for future use and added to a folder. In addition, it would better assist the members seeking to help ID the tree because it would provide a completed profile.

    The form, with instructions could be made a sticky and members could print that form off, make copies and then head out to fill it out and take pictures. We would then come back and upload our findings to help us try and ID the tree in question.

    If any foresters see this and think this would be a good idea, please consider something like this. Do you foresters think something like this would work? Would it be a valuable tool?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  2. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    Great idea Bill. If BCUSA approves, I would be willing to make one up exclusively for Bushcrafters. I might need a little help with design and computer stuff.
     
  3. Ironwood

    Ironwood Guide

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    Love the idea. Would be nice to see the top five useful species native to each state or province (canada)
     
  4. IamLegend

    IamLegend Guide Bushclass I

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    I would love to see something like this also. Good idea Bill!
     
  5. Sawdust and Splinters

    Sawdust and Splinters Scout Bushclass I

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  6. lgmedler

    lgmedler Tracker

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    Would be a great tool.
     
  7. drewhelean

    drewhelean Guest

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    Fantastic idea! Would be useful for taking the kids out for tree identification. Print one for each kid and tell them they have an hour to ID as many as they can and bring back leaf or a pic to show the proof.
     
  8. 3fires

    3fires Guide

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    Sounds like a great idea, and a good learning tool as well.
     
  9. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Steven,

    Your recent post on the slippery elm prompted the idea and I thank you for working on this. Tree I'd is one of my major goals to get serious about learning. Now if we could only find someone that could help lay it out or design it, but it may just need to be some basic instructions on photographing certain parts and such and a "15" point checklist.

    Thank you again

    Bill
     
  10. mariajjenkins

    mariajjenkins Tinder Gatherer

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    We need this.
     
  11. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    One of the problems I think with most people is that there are so many species to learn and they try to just walk out in the woods with a field guide and start learning them all at once. This is too much info at one time.

    My idea for this worksheet is to have a few general tips at the top following with a two part worksheet. First section is with information you fill out at home and the second section being information filled out in the field. Instead of walking into the woods not knowing what you are going to find, you will focus on 1 or 2 trees a day and have done so much research at home that you will be able to go to your favorite spot and know exactly where to find them. This worksheet will be used with your choice of field guides. The field guides will be used for the color pictures and general info they provide.

    You will start off composing a list of all flora in your area. Researching each one mildly until you find one you are interested in. I always pick them based on their uses since that is the most important thing about a plant to me. Once you find "the one", start on section 1 of worksheet...

    Contents of section 1 may include (research done at home):
    - Name (all names)
    - General Background/Description
    - Habitat w/ examples of locations you know of (ex: River bottoms w/ rocky to clay to sandy soils; Trinity river off of Hwy 59, San Jacinto River above SHNF, etc.)
    - Very detailed over all description (height, diameter, shape, etc)
    - Very detailed leaf description suited to current season of the year
    - Very detailed bark description
    - Very detailed fruit description suited to current season of the year
    - Any extra ID tips
    - List any cautions/warnings w/ remedies and preventions
    - A list of all of its uses (woodcraft, medicinal, edible)
    - Pick a few projects and get instructions, recipes, etc. to practice in the field

    Contents of section 2 may include (field notes):
    - Exact area of location
    - General description of what you have found
    - Descriptions of photos you have taken
    - Any thing you find to be different than your research from home
    - Notes from the projects practiced in the field
    - Add a few sketches
    - Describe the feel of the tree (smell, touch, hear, taste if edible)

    Focusing on a few plants a week instead of searching for as many as possible has worked best for me. Get to know the tree intellectually at home then physically in the field. Take many pictures of all parts of the plant and write your own detailed description.

    What do you guys think? Is this something that could work for you?

    Edit: A good place to start is your own backyard.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  12. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Steven,

    You just described me perfectly above.

    Section 1) Basic instructions
    Section 2) At home research and selection of target
    Section 3) In field data collection


    I think that section II could be used independently from section I for individuals that come across a tree while in the woods without preparing for it, and then wish to record data and then make submission to forum. I would always keep section 2 in my pack and whip it out when I come across something I randomly want to get ID. This happened to me one time I came across Honey Locust, at the time not knowing what it was.

    And the worksheet will be very helpful in keeping track once taking the next logical step after ID'ing the unknown sample and asking, "What can this be utilized for?"

    For a targeted sample, this would all be known, or a good bit of it, prior to heading out as you describe.

    Thanks again,

    Bill C
     
  13. joe305

    joe305 Guide

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    this is a great Idea. and should make the process allot easier...I am Particularly interested in being able to I.D. and be able to have a way to document identified Edible plants. I want to make this one of my goals this year.
     
  14. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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  15. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Can anybody help Steven with formatting and design on the worksheet? I have no computer skills in this area at all. I'm thinking maybe a nice, clean Adobe PDF format or something like that.

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  16. Grits

    Grits Guide

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    IMO, identifying trees starts with habitat. Trees (and other plants) grow in habitat that suits their needs: dry, wet, clay soil, sandy soil, climate/weather, ridges, midlands. bottomlands, etc., etc. I know there can be variation, but since we are bushcrafters it might be useful to think of habitat first as a way to "rule out" some species. Also, this approach allows for identifying other useful/edible/medicinal plants since these plants are perhaps more habitat-sensitive than many trees.

    WRT habitat (and our own backyards), note that areas of civilization may contain many trees and plants that would not grow natively, since humans can change many natural elements, like how much water a plant gets.

    Finally, search engines like Bing, Google and Start Page have an Images search feature, which will really help with plant identification if you use good search terms. For instance, I was trying to ID a tree. Using Bing! images, I entered "tree with thorns on bark" and hovered the pointer over the images to enlarge them. I guess I got lucky, because the second image looked right. I opened that link and got a description of Cockspur Hawthorne, which was exactly correct.

    Hope this helps.
     
  17. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Those are very good tips Grits. Thank you. I have only known about trees habitating certain areas until recently after reading my field guide. The field guide I have includes a key giving the reader an idea as to what trees are more likely in a particular area. I'm working on trying to understand the differences between them so I can then identify an area, then identify a tree that is likely in that area.

    When following STeven's worksheet, what you describe must happen prior to looking for a tree in a particular area and hope he can include information on the relationship between certain trees and the area they tend to grow.
     
  18. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    Steven's OP on this, I believe, was basically on trees of the southeast. Is that where we're going here? Or is this going to be broader scoped? Geographic distribution as well as habitat is important.
     
  19. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Goal would be to have a general worksheet as a tool that can be used to include all trees, not just a specific area. Hopefully he will include information on geographic distribution for the user that can be applied to his/her particular location. Once we get past this stage, I think everything else will be very standardized.
     
  20. MK-9

    MK-9 Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Outstanding idea.
     
  21. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    Are we, individually, going to add to the data base? Or is this kinda "go find, id with chart, and share" thing?
     
  22. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    I don't know how a database could be done.

    I'm thinking that we will have access to the worksheets, print them off, do our at home research on a tree we want to find and then take section II to record our findings in the field then add this to our at home file.

    Or section II could be printed off, data and photos recorded, then photos uploaded to forum and notes typed in to request help ID'ing an unknown tree.

    For me the end goal is to give members a tool that they can individually use to improve their tree ID skills with the assistance of fellow members at BCUSA to enable use to become independent in our research.

    It will be a tool that fellow members will become familiar with hopefully and can expect to have a complete profile so they can get all the data in the field at the same time without missing anything that would have been helpful upon original upload.
     
  23. FifeB

    FifeB Scout

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    Bill and Steven,
    I think this is one of the best ideas I have seen for a while. Should be great for all of us on the site.
    I agree that it should begin with eveyones back yards anywhere in our global coverage since we have many folks all over the world. It would be neat to know what a lot of these trees are used for in other parts of the world.
     
  24. 3fires

    3fires Guide

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    I like the idea of section II being used for submitting help with an ID, along with a pic or the like. I see a few posts with pics on here asking for help with ID, and if folks had a guideline for what to submit it would help others here better assist in getting them a positive ID. It could be leaf, fruit bark, twig, shape or features, something along those lines. I think that would help folks get an understanding of what features are required for a positive ID as well. They wouldn't have to fill in every detail, just whatever features they may observe while they're out. In the first part of section II they could list the general geographic location.

    I'd help with putting the worksheet together, but I'm pretty overwhelmed with school right now, and I'm not the best when it comes to throwing together forms in the first place.
     
  25. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    3fires,

    you said it better than i could buddy. having a checklist to help you remember while collecting the information will also help members with more experience to help the submitting member. there will be less back and forth over incomplete information.

    Also, it will help us become better with the glossary of terms in field guides that sometimes can be difficult to define and understand.
     
  26. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Another thing I wanted to add to the thread about submissions is the subject header....

    We say something like...."Tree ID Question" or something like that. Then, after the tree has been ID, we change the header to the succesfully named tree.

    This will make searching the forum alot easier because you can search the tree you are looking for in the header and then go right to it.

    Then after we get the tree ID, then we can search the forum for all additional informaiton related to that tree. As we are aware, there are excellent videos and information abundant here on trees and what we can use them for.
     
  27. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    Great to see a lot of people interested.

    I have completed a rough draft in Microsoft Word of Worksheet 1. I need some help figuring out how to post it here so everyone can give me their feedback. Just to let everyone know, worksheet 1 has come out to be 6 pages. It includes areas to be filled out on every identification category.

    My intentions on these worksheets is that you find all trees in your area and list them in order of habitat. (ex: Bottom wetlands, river banks, hardwood forest, etc.)
    Second you pick a few trees to work with. Research those trees at home with worksheet 1. Take worksheet 1 along with your preferred field guides into the location you know where your choices will be located and fill out worksheet 2 in the field. Be sure to bring blank worksheets in the field also to help with identification of other trees.

    These worksheets are standardized to ID trees in any part of the world.

    There will be a cover sheet and master guide to explain each section on the worksheets. The cover sheet will give you tips on ID and general info on finding what you are looking for. It will be very detailed and most likely at least a few pages long.

    One thing I really suggest is that you keep track of your worksheets in a binder under the tree name and visit the tree at all times of the year and fill out a worksheet for each season. This will greatly help in your ID for different seasons.

    Once the tree worksheets are done, I will make a plant ID one. Two very different worlds.

    I am open for any and all suggestions.
     
  28. FreedomFox

    FreedomFox Scout

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    I would for sure used this. I am so unsure of tree identification (it is actually shameful)
     
  29. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    Wow, Steven. Excellent. Maybe one of the mods can help you with the format so we can print it out. pm?
     
  30. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Steven,

    Can you email me what you have so far? Also, contact Pik through PM about layout and formatting. Gratefully, he offered to help out. Thanks Pik!

    My email is billc@servquote.com
     
  31. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    The ball is rolling and hopefully we can see the rough draft of worksheet 1 on here tonight or tomorrow sometime. I am still working on worksheet 2 and I will start on Master guide and Cover sheet as soon as possible. Planning that one out right now.

    I am trying to include as much info as possible without having to print out a book. There is so much material that goes into tree identification. My goal is to have it as simple to understand and use as possible.
     
  32. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Can this document be hosted somewhere offsite and then we can access it with a link for now so people can view it, then comment on it to get it finalized in the coming week(s). Be sure not to put anything with BCUSA on the document to respect copywright of owners BCUSA.
     
  33. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    There will be no mentions of BCUSA unless the founders would like. I tried putting it in a link last night with no luck. Not sure how exactly it works.

    It needs to be reviewed by everyone and I could sure use some suggestions. It is just a rough draft and will need to be revised a few times before it becomes fully available. There is still some research, thinking and outlining I have to do.

    pik has generously offered to help with the layout and formatting.
     
  34. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    Steven,

    I just looked at the word document and like where this is headed. It would be nice if during formatting Pik could somehow shrink the boxes down on the boxes where we circle an option so we could get it onto less pages if that is possible.

    Drop the last two pages and put in the instructions that Skills/Recipes/Instruction and General Notes are to be added on the back of the first two pages. This will knock two pages off easily.
     
  35. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    Great idea. i am not liking the six pages either.
     
  36. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    When this thread started with the OP, I was thinking along the lines of a dichotomous key, which are pretty common. I've used them for fish identification, as well as plants.

    If you've never used one, they are like an outline going from the most general, to the specific.

    In the case of a tree, you start with the general shape, and then answer yes/no questions until you get down to the number of leaf clusters, and veins in the leaf. With thousands of species of trees/plants, these keys are almost essential.

    How does the worksheet under development compare with a dichotomous key?
     
  37. myrmecophile

    myrmecophile Tracker

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  38. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    Old Philosopher,
    I was thinking of something like that also, but I figured it would be too many pages to take into the field. My idea is to research the tree at home so when you go out you will know exactly what to look for. If you had worksheets that were filled out at home with every bit of info you can find using books and the internet, and say you had 5 completed sheets of different trees, then searching and identifying 5 trees should take you a good amount of time for the day.

    When I walk into the woods with a field guide just trying to identify, I have found that I get frustrated more, than looking for specific trees.

    There are plenty of websites that will tell you the exact trees in your region and the habitat where you will find them. So, what I do is, I made a list of all trees in the National Forest by where I live and sorted them by specific habitat. For example, I know that the low, sandy hills alongside Big Creek provide a more drier and open habitat where trees like Post Oak, Blackjack Oak, and Black Hickory can be found. So if I was wanting to learn more about Post Oak, I would fill out worksheet 1 and head out along Big Creek knowing what I am looking for. Once I locate one, I fill out worksheet 2 which details specific location, Description of what you see, smell, hear, taste (if applicable), and areas for sketches, etc.

    I would most likely fill out worksheets for all trees found in that area, or at least 5 or so, and try and identify all of them and get some practice on their uses.

    Would something like this be of use to you?
     
  39. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    I was looking at it just backward, I guess. :eek:
    I'll stumble across a tree (not literally, I hope) and ask, "What the heck is that?" I might take some leaves, and a picture/sketch of the bark, an any other unique features, and then come home to research it.
    But going out to hunt down a particular tree I've only done a couple times.
    I wanted some yew wood, so I researched the bark and needle configuration, and finally found one in my travels. So I guess I was doing what you propose in a much less grand style.
     
  40. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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  41. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    I have found that once you do this over and over, your ID skills will start to become clearer. What you state above is also another way I learn. I think it is good practice to do this on every outing. Pick a tree you are unfamiliar with and take home clues (leaves, twigs, bark, fruit, pictures/sketches, etc.) to research.

    These worksheets can be filled out in the field also. Find a tree and fill out worksheet 1 and 2 without the aid of a field guide. Once all identification sections are filled in and notes are recorded, pick up the field guide to learn what it is. Its description, its preferred habitat, some uses, ID tips, etc. See how good they compare to your findings. Once at home, do extensive research on its uses, etc. and visit the same tree in the near future when you have a full understanding of it. You will start to see the forest in a totally new perspective.

    This process is what I have found to work best for me to increase my knowledge of trees. I spend time learning one specific tree before moving on to the next. It seems to stay in my memory better this way. I like to get an intimate understanding of them.
     
  42. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    To learn the trees on our property up in NC, I used large index cards, for individual trees, with notes on them. They filled fast.
     
  43. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    My phone has an app on it like this. Its pretty cool. Its a blackberry and the app is called tree identification. Pretty useful tool in the field.

    This is what I was thinking of at first myself. I found a few on the internet in worksheet style to print but they are numerous pages.
     
  44. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    I was taking a course at the U of W in Washington on The Limnology of Puget Sound. The key for just the fish in the area was 180 pages! :eek:
     
  45. 3fires

    3fires Guide

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    Steven, I read both your and OP's posts about the way you two go about ID. I do both, sometimes I will find a tree, plant, etc. in a book or online, take notes of the details and go seek it out in the woods. Other times, I will find an unknown tree, plant, etc. while I'm out in the woods, take notes in field along with samples to bring home and later ID using books, the internet and the like.

    I haven't seen the form, but it sounds like it could be used both ways, either making notes at home and then heading out, or making notes in field and then heading home to ID. LOL! I hope that doesn't sound too confusing. I agree 100% with sticking to only one tree or plant at a time, as there are so many trees and plants one can lose focus pretty quick and get overwhelmed.

    I realize there are many features, uses and such to a single plant or tree, enough that could fill a small book at times, but for field use a simple one or two page form might be best. The other pages regarding uses and such could be filled out at leisure, but for field ID, a more basic checklist or fill in the blank layout might be best.

    It would be cool if the form as is could be posted, then many folks could give input, as what might seem best for me or someone else might not be best for everyone.
     
  46. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    Or...you could get to be like my logger buddies. Give them a piece of fresh cut wood, no bark, no nothin', and they will tell you what tree it's from. All they do is smell it. ROFL! One guy can tell the difference between white, yellow and lodgepole pine.
     
  47. snakedoctor

    snakedoctor Deceased

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    It is also on android called TTreeID cost $1.99
     
  48. Steven Long

    Steven Long Guide Vendor

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    3fires,
    Thank you for the suggestions. The worksheet could definitely be used both ways. It will come with a guide detailing the instructions on how to use the worksheet. The guide will also be used in the field with the worksheet to make ID easier. Trying to come up with a design for that now.

    Right now, it is a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. We are currently working on getting it posted for reviews and suggestions. It is still in its baby stages. I created a rough copy to give everyone the general idea of what it could be. It is in Excel and Word format and I am not sure how to post attachment or link to BCUSA. pik is working on it as he gets time.

    Thank you for your interest.


    Old Philosopher,
    I wish I was that good. It just takes a good amount of experience.
     
  49. BillCr

    BillCr Guide Bushclass I

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    I don't know how to get what we have so far up and online either. I'm working on finding a way. Where's BackwoodsUncleBub?????
     
  50. pik

    pik Scout

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    I got the rough draft from Steven today, and here it is. I have some ideas to reduce the amount of space required and will post what that looks like in the next few days.

    At the moment, our target format is a PDF form with fill-able fields and check boxes, so you can either type the answers right in and attach it to a post here, or print it and fill it out by hand.

    On the other hand, when the information is attached in a PDF, the worksheet content will not appear in search results. Furthermore, there is a per-user limit to the total size of all attachments, so it would be doubly nice to be able to simply post the worksheet content rather than attach it. Maybe we want a second, simpler worksheet in text-only form to fill out and copy into a forum post?
     

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