A little compile wrinkle: character style isn't applied to a footnote marker

So, I have a paragraph style that compiles nicely into a Hebrew-language block quote. I also have a “Latin span” that also correctly compiles into Markdown to switch languages within the block quote environment for non-Hebrew text such as English (in my case, it produces [some text]{lang="en"}). Where I have a little problem is that I have a footnote marker for an inspector footnote, which I have carefully styled with my “Latin span” character style, and the footnote marker gets compiled without being surrounded by the appropriate markdown — I end up with [^fn8] rather than the expected [[^fn8]]{lang="en"}.

Any suggestions on how to get what I’m after?

That sounds like a limitation in Scrivener’s compile ordering, so that styles are applied before “special” features like footnotes are expanded to markdown? @AmberV will surely enlighten us on this…

One thing worth bearing in mind is that Scrivener works hand in hand with manual Markdown entry—one isn’t compelled to use its mechanisms from producing Markdown, to the point that they could all be ignored and Scrivener used to write Markdown directly, like you would in most text editors. In other words, if the automation can’t produce what you need, then type it in yourself the way it should be:

> Whik gronk; thung epp rintax whik jince dwint srung sernag nix la quolt sernag brul jince.[^special] Twock, quolt whik tharn dri cree gen...

[^special]: Rinquis nix delm velar rhull korsa ti epp su rintax lydran irpsa, kurnap re menardis.

Now, with the stuff you are highlighting being straight old text (“[^special]” in this case), the style is free to work as it normally does, as it would on any other text. Nothing cares that the text in the style is footnote syntax, save for Pandoc eventually.

So honestly that’s what I’d do, and for similarly odd cases where there is either no solution or such a convoluted one that it doesn’t make sense to implement it, I’ll always do the same. It is not a work-around, it’s a perfectly valid approach and in fact one of the advantages of using Markdown in the first place. If the software can’t do it, we still can. RTF users just have to throw up their hands and give up at that point; put down a comment to themselves to fix it later in a word processor.

That’s a very helpful point, and one of many things I appreciate about Scrivener. My desire to have the change, though, is because something else which I find especially great about Scrivener, compared to e.g. using a plain text editor, is that I can keep a real focus on my prose text. Having the inspector footnotes helps keep the prose clean. So I love the flexibility, but I’d also love the footnotes to work the way the main text editor does. This is without any sense of angst about it, and recognising that the flexibility of Scrivener is why I use and love it so much.

Understood, and by and large I do agree. I get what you’re saying, but I think I’d need a more specific example to show if there is a real break in the software or if we are looking at a natural limitation in how two very different features clash with one another.

One thing in particular that I can see as being a natural limitation here (another way of saying there is a logical clash that goes beyond software, to the level where we would say a blanket has trouble remaining useful as a blanket when put into a lake) is that Scrivener’s inspector footnote feature generates a marker in a fashion that is somewhat happenstance to how you mark text that needs notation.

The design was built around the notion that one could highlight the text that is relevant to the citation or footnote, and then add that note as an annotated highlight. Not everyone uses that capability, some just plop the cursor at the end of the sentence and hit the shortcut, so it auto-selects whatever random amount of text is to the left of the cursor as a highlight. It kind of doesn’t mean as much when you do that, but even when using it that way, it’s still highlighting the text to the left of the marker.

And this the fundamental blanket + lake problem: there is no marker to style! A marker will be suffixed to the highlight when compiling, but until then you are applying the style to the text that is to the left of the marker. Is that what you really want? It doesn’t sound like it.

So to that end, an inline annotation makes a lot more sense to me, because this creates a natural scenario where the content of the note is collapsed at the point where it begins, moved to the end of the file, and the “bubble” that was in the original inline annotation is replaced by a marker. Everything about the footnote at this point is self-contained, rather than attached to the source text as an adornment of some width.

However this is not without its logical issues as well: what does it actually mean if you were to select the inline footnote in its entirety and style it? What are we really saying here? It seems to me there is no clear request of the software. There are three equally valid ways of interpreting such a request:

  1. Please style the text of this footnote, in how it appears at the bottom of the page (think House of Leaves style multiple footnote treatments).
  2. Please style the footnote marker but not the text.
  3. Please style everything generated within this area, the marker and the text.

I think I can say with confidence that most people would have the first expectation. If we were to italicise the inline footnote, we would expect the foonote to be italic at the bottom of the page, not the marker. Very few people need to apply a style around individual footnote markers. Most people are going to want to set the footnote content a certain way, if anything.

So if we were to change how this works at all, it probably wouldn’t even go in a way that suits you.

Going back to inspector footnotes, the problems are similar. Are we applying the style to the text that just so happens to also be highlighted, purely for author’s reference? I think most people would expect the text they styled itself, not the footnotes text, which is off in another context, and I think fewer still would expect anything to change about the marker.

If you do have an example that shows a clear break in syntax generation, I’d be interested in seeing that. But unless I completely misunderstand what you’re trying to do, I would not expect your result from correctly functioning software. What I would expect, if I were to select the entirety of the footnote highlight and style it, is what currently already happens:

Whik gronk; thung epp rintax whik jince dwint srung sernag nix la quolt sernag brul jince. [Twock, quolt whik tharn dri cree gen...]{lang="en"}[^fn1]

[^fn1]: Ma ozlint ju wynlarce gronk ma cree clum la wex frimba zeuhl; velar menardis, wynlarce furng berot furng gen.

I could see some discussion over whether the marker should be included in such a range, rather than outside of it—but even so in this case, I do wonder if the actual best result is what currently happens anyway. There maybe isn’t a best answer here, but I think in general stylesheet and semantic systems tend to treat the footnote marker itself with its own style, separate from whatever styling may be going on to the left and/or right of it. I.e. the footnote marker doesn’t become a “Heading 1” styled text merely because it is adjacent to or within a heading. It is still a footnote marker, a discrete element of its own kind, often marked with its own internal styling to allow for easy universal adjustment of how markers look.

Ah, I think the issue is that I have set the ‘Use footnote marker’ option set in my project settings. I was expecting to be able to style the footnote marker itself. Is that an intentional omission, due to what you’ve said about the general inspector footnote design, or something that could potentially be changed at some point?

Or to approach my particular problem another way, if I use an inline footnote, is there a way to style the footnote marker for an inline footnote? (And if say, is there a simple way to hide/show or collapse/expand all the inline footnotes?)

That’s a good thought, I had neglected the footnote marker option in the above analysis, and yes in that case it does make much more natural sense to style just the marker itself, since at that point there is nothing but the marker that is available as a target. So long as there are no technical issues with doing so, I think it makes sense to style the marker, putting prefix and suffix around it as the case may be. I’ll put that on the list for consideration.

Or to approach my particular problem another way, if I use an inline footnote, is there a way to style the footnote marker for an inline footnote? (And if say, is there a simple way to hide/show or collapse/expand all the inline footnotes?)

I was potentially unclear, both inline and linked footnotes have the similar logical/expectation problems to one another:

  • Inlines: you are styling the text of the footnote, which is what most people would want.
  • Linked: you are styling the main content text, which just so happens to be highlighted as being related to a footnote. This is also what most people would expect.
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Cool, that’s the main thing I’m after, so if it can be done it would be a huge help to me.

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