About notes / annotations and links

I know this has been discussed before, but I want to turn to this subject, hoping to convince Keith that in the notes / annotations section some things should definitely change.

Some of us have already said that they’re very happy with the notes and annotations as such, but not with the way they’re implemented. I agree with them. In my view, notes / annotations should absolutely be collapsible. It’s rather distracting and disturbing to be forced to read over and over again provisional annotations like “insert here what mum used to tell us when she brought us to bed!” or “this paragraph long and annoying”. So my vote is for an option “show / hide annotations (notes)” inside the project menus (not in the general Preferences!). When an annotation (note) is hidden, a small but elegant A (N) inside a circle could discretely take its place.

And it would be even better, if it were possible to make immediately annotations (notes) in various colours, in exactly the same way it’s already possible now to highlight text with various colours; in that case, the above mentioned A and N could hereditate the colour of the notes / annotations they represent. In my opinion, this would be a very elegant and useful solution, which would make many of us very happy.

In the middle of August Keith wrote that a similar kind of implementation was “just outside the scope of Scrivener 1.0 at the moment”. Since then, a month has passed, and Keith will have had a lot to meditate about, so you never know … …

My second suggestion regards the Scrivener links. Presently, a link always brings you to the beginning of a document. Especially in the case of long documents, though, it would be very convenient if it were possible to tie an exact place in one document to an exact place in another document.

Annotations will not change for the foreseeable future - ie. not until 2.0 or after - if ever. I looked into collapsible annotations and it is nearly impossible given the Cocoa text system. If it were implemented, undo would have to be destroyed every time you tried to open or close an annotation. Moreover, adding buttons inside Cocoa text is very difficult and inelegant. So, the current system will remain. I happen to really like it, and many other users do, too. Scrivener is one of the very few applications of its kind to offer annotations at all, and certainly the only one that can have them exported to RTF comments.

I have said before and will say again: use Snapshots. That is the general idea. Annotations are meant to be changed. They are quick notes about what needs to be changed whilst you are in the flow and do not want to pause and spend too much time thinking about it. Why would you want to leave them in your text? So, you add an annotation and move on. When you come to edit, you take a snapshot, which will save your document with annotations, and then you get rid of your annotations as you edit.

You can already change the colours of annotations to anything you want using the colour panel (cmd-shift-C).

As for links, they will remain as they are, too. They just link to documents. When the document gets opened by a Scrivener link, it will get opened at the place it was last edited. Links to places within documents is beyond the scope of Scrivener (that sentence again :slight_smile: ).

So, sorry: no collapsible annotations. :frowning:

Thanks for your suggestions,

Also note that if you switch colours while writing an annotation, it will create a new, adjacent annotation. So you can write a string of discrete thoughts if need be.

I suggest giving the concept a little while of getting used to. I’ve found that my eyes just float over annotations as if they are not even there, after a while. But, if you never do take to it, there are other options. Keith mentioned snapshots, and that is a good one if you work in a write-edit-rewrite-edit style cycle. Also, with the easy duplication feature and/or with “Copy Without Annotations or Footnotes”, you can quickly make a clean, version.

  1. Duplicate current document. Cmd-D
  2. Cmd-A to select all, Cmd-Opt-Shift-C to copy only text data
  3. Cmd-V to paste.

Or, just Cmd-5 to Snapshot instead of Step 1.

There is also the possibility of restricting annotations to positions between paragraphs, and using highlights to show relative context in the text itself. Actually, this is what I am used to, as Ulysses has paragraph level comments, only. You cannot just stick a comment anywhere you want.

I am sure there are other ideas. All for Tips and Tricks eventually.

Thanks, Keith, for your quick reaction and thanks, AmberV, for your further explanation!

Well, then it looks like I’ll have to try to get used to the present state of things. Yet one other brief remark: what you said about the ephemeral character of annotations, Keith, may apply indeed to annotations, but not to notes, who often are there to stay!

But perhaps the difference between our ideas could be party explained by the fact that you intend to use Scrivener for writing novels, while I intend to use it especially for writing scientific papers and perhaps even books. That’s another horizon, another world, with different habits and different expectations.

SG was much more like that. But with Scrivener 1.0 I have really tried to take in all the ideas of those who wanted to use S more for journalism, academia and so forth, which is why I introduced a way of creating footnotes and annotations. However, because Scrivener is “first-pass” software, ie. intended for creating something that will be exported to a dedicated software for final formatting, it avoids - by design - complicated layout systems. You just have your text, and other elements are stored inline. I (used to) write academic papers myself, and Scrivener was partly designed around how I wrote those, too - footnotes inline next to the text to which they referred until a much later format, notes in square brackets inside the text.

I’m not saying that collapsible annotations aren’t a good idea. What I am saying is that there are technical limitations which would make any implementation very clumsy and awkward.

Remember that you can always print or export without your notes if you want a clean copy. Or you can go as if to print and then view your text as a PDF without the annotations.


This is probably something that would have to be done on the programming side, but this leaves spaces where the footnotes used to be. Is there any way to circumvent this?

This does not happen for me. Make sure that you place all padding inside the footnote or annotation. Extra spaces will be stripped from footnotes during export, but not for annotations (which is okay in 99% of the cases I’ve used it).

Hm, ok, I just marked the actual text as a footnote, not the line above it. Looks strange like that, but should be workable.

Thanks a lot :slight_smile:

A work-around for collapsable annotations (and notes) could be accomplished with the following:

Add one function to Scrivener links. That is, with the cursor positioned within a text document, one click or keystroke would create a new Scrivener-linked document, and then automatically name it (“Note # 1”), place it in a “notes” folder, and put a link to it at the cursor position. “Note # 1” would then become the new annotation tied to a specific text location in the orginal document.

This would accomplish the functionality of collapsable annotations without the need to impliment it.

That would be heading towards Wiki functionality, I am afraid, and I don’t really see Scrivener heading in that direction.

No, it’s not - and I really don’t mean to be argumentative here - but that functionality ALREADY exists in Scrivener. I use it all the time to create side notes linked to specific text in a document, it’s just that now its a very cumbersome process.

A non-wiki idea that’s related is to have contextual notes in the Inspector, which show up only when you click on a piece of highlighted text.

IOW, you highlight some text, then type in a note like “is this the right date?” into the inspector. If the cursor is in unhighted text, it shows the document note, but if you click in a highlight, it shows the contextual note.

No wikiness there, but darned helpful… :smiley:

Hm, sounds good but it seems to always show the same notes.

There will be no changes to this, sorry - the notes are just a loose area for the document. As for the wiki-ish idea, I think it would be to forceful of Scrivener to go and create a document in a “Notes” folder. Dunno.


Okay, would you consider linking highlighted text to another item in the binder?

That way, you could highlight some text, do a contextual “Create Highlight Note” which would create a blank item in the binder, and you can type the note. File it wherever you want, and the highlight can always bring it up with a menu or a double-click.

Gets the same result, doesn’t rewrite the notes system, not really wiki-ish.


:wink: I don’t think that annotations need be collapsible :smiley:

Hello all! And Mister Keith, Sir, thank you very much! I really haven’t seen such a good piece of design since MacUser’s front cover with the first iMac ten years ago… That grabbed my imagination! Wow and desire! Here, I now beam again :smiley: It is wonderful to see such clear vision fighting it’s way to the fore… and it will… it will. Really heading to be the beautiful solution! Quite fantastic to have that clarity and tenacity in an individual. Well done!

Hmmm… Read another post which mentioned the desire for ways to tag excerpts in the text with particular attributes and emerging themes for later summery. That chap, oneworld9, also wanted to read his, “thoughts, personal, educational, philosophical, etc”, inline, but also have the ability to extract parts such as education.

Seems appending the separate musings, education, philosophy, to documents, so entitled, would have done the trick well enough. To tag the text, wouldn’t the highlighter be able to do this? Would like to be able to edit the selection of colours to make them a little more subtle and be able to add a title for each, as is the case with OS X’s Finder labels. Perhaps I haven’t understood…

What I would like then would be a contextual menu command:
Annotate Append to… and Link >

Regarding the issue here, annotations should, of course, be close at hand, unless we want the extra functionality above…
It would seem that :exclamation: Annotate Append to… Link & Replace with # > :exclamation: might do? As long as the notes are at hand…

A little superscripted number for the note could be left in place.
For immediate local reference, append the note to, umm… notes - what exactly are they for if they aren’t for… umm, notes?
For a list of things outstanding to do, the annotation should also be appended to a list of all annotations, aiding productivity through awareness and also allowing us to find them quick… especially when we append to the wrong document, before falling asleep on the keyboard. Again these should be linked, if not to the in place note number, if that is a problem, then to the document.

A little number in the text won’t bother anyone and is easier to implement than what ever convoluted means might be tried to show and hide. Think that must be a bit of a stinker unless you really have a good coding vocabulary. But why make it complicated when there is always a simple way?

Don’t think it very heavy handed, just speeding up good organisation with the functionality already there in Scrivener! What I love in here is the way, when it is correct, all falls into place… making work… easy!

An artist, time served to their craft, doesn’t have to ask any question of “How do I do this?” Unfettered, they are free to make the aesthetic and conceptual realisations that can bring about the sublime.

Instantly, Scrivener gives us the greatest chance to write, not just as an ordered craftsman, but with the clarity and awareness of an artist, if that is in us at all? For that I would like to thank you… very much! Your clarity is one of an artists Keith. And Scrivener…

My best wishes… Philip

Thank you. :slight_smile: There are mainly technical problems holding me back from improving these systems currently - and the sheer amount of code they would require - which is why they are slated for a much more “future” release.
Thank you again for your kind words, though!

Just wanted to drop a note here that I’ve actually stopped using Scrivener because of the annotations. I’ve been using Scrivener to write academic papers, and when writing such papers I do a lot of going back over the text revising as I go (and then when I have a draft I go through and make the final decisions, which is when I axe annotations). I use annotations for this, but Scriveners’ annotations are terrible for this kind of workflow. The things I would like to see in an annotation: 1) clear indication of exactly what text it’s attached to; 2) being able to hide the annotations, but still see which text is annotated. I can do neither of these things in Scrivener (or, unfortunately, any other academic-paper friendly writing environment).

I tried using split views and Scrivener links to get what was essentially a bastard child of VoodooPad linked documents and Avenir-style annotations, but the workflow is terrible:

cmd-opt-shift-I to upper view (whose focus is my “Annotations” folder)
cmd-n for new document
type in title
cmd-opt-shift-L to top view, type in annotation
cmd-opt-shift-K to lower view (where the main text is)
right-click to get contextual menu and establish the link

I love the way Scrivener allows me to shift text around, but the pain of copy and pasting it is less than the pain of being unable to quickly glance over my document because its riddled with inline annotations.

Well, I never claimed Scrivener was for everyone - good luck with whatever tool you choose. :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

I’m sorry to go; Scrivener is a great tool. I don’t really understand why you seem to be so intractable about annotations, but it’s your baby (and apparently there’s other people who like this style of annotation).

I just wish there were any tool out there that was appropriate for academic writing that handled annotations the way that I want/need. I’ve pleaded for annotations from Nisus, too, but haven’t had any luck. Avenir’s got me covered for fiction, but it really isn’t cut out for academic work. :confused:

I suspect that if Apple included support for reading/writing annotations in their RTF frameworks there would be a lot better support for annotations. Ah well. For now I’ll just have to stick with my vain advocacy for better annotation support in software like Scrivener.