Bookmark text in iOS

I am sure that this must have been asked before but I can’t find an answer.

I know I can bookmark a file but can I bookmark a paragraph or text? In long docs it is useful to insert a bookmark in a place which you might want to return to when editing. Is this function available on iPAD?

There may not be much discussion on this from the standpoint of iOS, but you will find some tips and tricks if you search for questions revolving around linking to specific pieces of text, which I would consider to be very closely related to what you are looking for. There are a few things you will glean from such discussions:

  • The software is designed to work with small chunks of text, not very long ones that would require some sort of elaborate (or even simple) internal navigation system. It uses the outliner approach to document creation, where chunks of text are as strictly topical as possible. In my projects, I rarely even have to scroll.
  • But for cases where the above is not practical, or for cases where you might want to have a universally available anchor point that does not require you to even remember within which document it was placed (and perhaps exists because you are liable to forget that), there are certainly some tools for the job that involve very basic concepts we have used for decades, all the way back to text editors—augmented with a little modern spice to be less clunky.

The basic trick is very simple:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to insert the mark.
  2. Tap the pencil icon on the keyboard toolbar, and select “Insert Annotation”.
  3. Now this part is up to you, type in something notable or even generic (like “BOOKMARK”).
  4. Now for how I use this technique, I like to add a little marker of some sort after the keyword to help distinguish it from other instances of that word used in natural language. In the future, I do not want to find hundreds of instances of the word “bookmark”, I only want to find one very specific type of marking. So what I do is put two slashes after the keyword, like this: “BOOKMARK//”. Sometimes after that I will put in a brief comment if the bookmark needs a little explanation, but usually that is enough.

So at this point you have a readily identifiable marking in your text that is easy to visually spot as you are scrolling through, and by default it is also a comment—meaning it will not compile. You do not have to worry about discarding it until you are ready to discard it, you can leave these things in for years and even totally forget about them.

  1. So about that universal availability, test the theory by going back to the binder list, and pull down the list until the search box at the top reveals, and type in “bookmark//” (or whatever).
  2. You will get a list of every document that has such a marking, tap on one. The software scrolls you straight to the first instance in the document.

This idea is very scalable. I use multiple forms of it to handle various different tasks, from initial drafting to revisioning. If I am unsure of a detail while I am writing, I have a mark I will use to indicate I should do some additional research and verify what I am saying. If I see a spot that could use an illustration, I put down a “TODO//FIG//” marking—and there you can see how I use compound markers. I can search for “TODO//” and get everything, or just “TODO//HIGH//” to get a specific type of todo item. Sometimes I want to link from one place to another very specifically, rather than using broadly determined marker types. For that I use date stamps, which are fairly unique. For example I might find a collection of items that all need to be revised once a certain condition has been triggered. I will make a document in my research folder describing the trigger itself, and declaring the marker that I will put into the draft folder, wherever there is text impacted by this revision. When the condition occurs, I look up the trigger file, search for the marker, and now I have a complete todo list of items that need to be fixed, and precisely which bits of text within those items are impacted.

There are all kinds of useful directions you can take this very simple idea.

Thank you for your comprehensive reply.

I will certainly give that a go!