Completely confused about "Project Notes" aka "Notes"

I am converting from Scrivener 2 to 3. It has taken me over a year to get around to this, so it’s an extremely anxiety-producing transition.

This morning when I finally for the first time opened the “Upgrade Guide” in 3 and it auto-converted, I got a pop-up message saying “Project Notes have been moved to the binder…[and the] Project Notes feature has been replaced by Project Bookmark.”

I don’t understand this. If Project Notes aka Notes are gone, replaced by Project Bookmarks, why are Notes everywhere in the new build (3)? At the bottom of the binder is a folder called “Project Notes.” OK, so maybe these are the converted ones, and the popup did say they would be moved to the binder. But it also said they would be “added to the Project Bookmarks [i.e. after conversion].” If so, why aren’t they in a “Project Bookmarks” folder? Or in the Bookmarks area? Now that I’m looking around a bit at the Upgrade Guide loaded in version 3, I don’t see Bookmarks anywhere. Where are they?

Furthermore, if Project Notes aka Notes are gone, why is there a “Notes” panel on the right-hand sidebar for every single document I open in the Upgrade Guide? I actually like have easy access to a Notes area for every chapter. I’m just confused about why it is there when the Guide explicitly said “The Project Notes feature has been replaced.”

Is my confusion rooted in the possibility that “Project Notes” and “Notes” are two different things?

If anyone can shed some light on this, thanks. I’m a literalist, so software migrations are tricky for me; the developers tend to not use precise enough language for me. Or maybe I’m just daft.

Thanks for any help in advance.

Have you gone through the upgrade guide itself yet? There is a thorough explanation of what happened here, in the item named “Project Notes”, under the “Getting Familiar with the Changes” folder, in the binder. It answers your questions directly.

Technically that would be a true statement (to be literal with you :wink:) because Project Notes do not exist, while Notes do, and thus they must be different if at least for that quality alone.

But more helpfully (maybe), “notes” is a pretty vague term. It could be used to refer to Document Notes (the first tab in the Inspector), or Footnotes, or even documents in the binder that are just notes. So it is not a very useful term for finding specific features, I would say—certainly not in any of the documentation.

Hopefully the 1,100 word tutorial on Project Notes is enough to answer your questions, but in short:

  • Project Bookmarks are a way of bookmarking any item in the binder, to make it easier to reference, navigate to, and to display in the sidebar as a “notepad” (using the second Inspector tab).
  • Project Notes, as a little window of self-contained files is no more, but rather there are multiple features (such as that second inspector tab) that make effective use of Bookmarks, and provide all of the basic functions that Project Notes did in v2.

Why change this around? Ever tried to compile, or even export at all Project Notes in v2? Or search for text within them? They were pretty isolated in the past, and thus had an effective cap on how useful they could be. Now every item in the binder can be a “project note” for how accessible it can be made with bookmarks. That means even scenes or sections can act like Project Notes did in the past. And meanwhile they also do what Favourites did in v2.

Have you gone through the upgrade guide itself yet? There is a thorough explanation of what happened here, in the item named “Project Notes”

I have just now read through the Project Notes document. My apologies. This document was two items down in the “Getting Familiar…” Folder in the Binder; I would have gotten to it within the hour. But it’s nevertheless very helpful that you responded.

Technically that would be a true statement (to be literal with you :wink:) because Project Notes do not exist, while Notes do, and thus they must be different if at least for that quality alone.

Yes, they do (and are). In the Inspector, when it is opened on the right when a document is displayed in the Editor, the first tab is called “Notes,” and it contains two items: Synopsis and Notes. This Notes tab is a different animal from the Bookmarks feature in v.3.

I am going to refer to the Bookmarks system in v.3 (for now, for my own purposes) as follows: Global “Bookmarked Documents” aka Project Notes. Yes, I could use the term Bookmark, which is what the software calls these things, but they’re not really bookmarks (unless you accept that term as being completely redefined). I see the use of this word for this feature in v.3 as a misnomer, and extremely confusing.

If you grab hold of a book and put a physical bookmark into it, it marks a location in the book. That is what I always wanted from v.2 (a location reference system), still want, and it doesn’t seem to exist in v.3 either.

For instance, in the Upgrade Grade, I love the description “References on steroids” in the “Project Notes” document in the “Getting Familiar…” folder of the Tutorial. I want to bookmark and/or “reference” that particular location in the Project (create a label that is a pointer to that location). I apparently can’t. (If there is a way to do this, please let me know.) The changed feature (as it exists in v.3) is a global “powerhouse” system of creating notes, yes; and it consists of (and seems to do this by default) entire documents linked to a pointer. But it is not a “software-pointer-to-a-specific-location” item. It should be. Microsoft Word has Bookmarks. They function as pointers to locations in a document. Software programming is like this, too. You put in a “Go To” statement. And physical books allow them! Why can’t Scrivener? Or does v.3 have this under a different name? For instance, a pointer called “He jumps off the bridge” that takes me right to that sentence where Harry commits suicide. A pointer called “Frank accepts the bribe” that takes me right to the location where Frank gets an envelope of cash from a developer. That sort of thing. Bookmarks. Not a Notes feature that is ultimately a “References on steroids” feature. Yes, it is a very cool and powerful feature for taking notes and having them accessible globally in a project, but it’s not remotely like bookmarks the way they work in Microsoft Word. Which feature I need just as much.

Why change this around? Ever tried to compile, or even export at all Project Notes in v2?

This is extremely valid, and I can understand why it makes the feature (and the changes made to it) so important for writers. It’s not a bad thing! I just wouldn’t have called it “Bookmarks.”

Now every item in the binder can be a “project note” for how accessible it can be made with bookmarks

Yes, there’s that, too: any item can be turned into a Bookmark. Well, a gigantic note accessible on a shortlist.

But I still need the other kind of bookmarks.

I have some further confusion over implementation, but I’m slowly sorting through that. (You can drag a document onto the Bookmarks icon and the feature then adds it as a Bookmark. But if there is a “Characters” group in the Bookmarks panel (which there isn’t in the Upgrade Guide, but there IS if you create a new Novel project, something I don’t understand), you can click on the drop-down arrow next to the Characters group in the Bookmarks panel and see all of your characters, even the ones that haven’t explicitly been added as Bookmarks.) In general, the behavior of arrows has changed in v.3. Arrows in UI are traditionally graphic elements that function as something that can be clicked on and then the software renders (opens) the contents of something, i.e., line items in a list that were hidden. But v.3 has many arrows that don’t function that way; they function differently.

In the Inspector, open the Bookmarks tab. Choose either Document Bookmarks or Project Bookmarks.

Click the gear icon at the top right of that section, choose the Add Internal Bookmark option, and select the “Frank accepts the bribe” document.

How does this differ from how you expect bookmarks to work?


While the physical analogy of the bookmark may not apply to the Scrivener Bookmarks feature, it is very similar to the web browser concept of “bookmarks”, in that it refers to a particular html web-page document (not to be confused with a particular page in a book, since web pages can go on much longer than a single book’s page).

In short:

  • Web browser bookmark -> web page/html file on the web
  • Scrivener bookmark -> Scrivener document/Folder OR a web page OR a file outside of your current project.

If I’ve read this correctly: you understand that you can now make a ‘bookmark’ which points to any particular document/group in the binder (ie Document Bookmarks, as Katherine describes), but you also want to ‘bookmark’ a specific location within a document — a phrase or a line half way through a scene, for example. Is that right?

If that’s the case then there are number of ways which you can use to do this.

One is to use inline annotations and use a code (here BMRK)

Then use Edit > Find > Find by Formatting to search for annotations with your code:

Screenshot 2019-06-07 20.20.10.png

Cmd-g will move you through each occurrence.

Or use inspector comments instead, then you can load your manuscript as a scrivening and pick them out from the Inspector list:

There are other ways too. If you know the text you’re looking for, then Quick Search (ctl-opt-g) will take you straight to it.


This procedure does not allow me to mark a specific location in the manuscript. I.e., the sentence “Frank looked away, looked back at Rachel, and finally said, ‘OK, I’ll give you my home address. Mail the check there.’” I want to be able to jump—from anywhere in the entire Scrivener program—right to the sentence that describes Frank finally assenting to the bribe.

Brookter, thanks for the lengthy reply. That took a lot of work on your part.

I guess I can insert a comment or an inline annotation. But I don’t see a global way to call up a list of either. IF I’m in the same document as a comment, that comment will show up in the Comments tab of the Inspector. But not if I’m in a different document. I’m not sure about Inline Annotation. I can’t figure out how that feature works.

What about Footnotes or Inline Footnotes? If I use either of those features to mark spots in the manuscript, is there a way to use GoTo or View or some global feature of the program to call up a list of footnotes, with a way to then click on a Footnote or Inline Footnote and jump me to that location in the text? Of course, then I would have to figure out a way to compile the manuscript without the footnotes showing (because they would be for my use only).

Sorry to be a pest, but I have over 100 characters, I’m developing a series that may span 1000s of pages, and there will be hundreds and hundreds of key events in the work. It’s important that I have a way to organize them systematically. The chronology is important. Many events are triggers for other events; all are important with regard to character arcs. I don’t want to have to resort to “plot armor” later on the way D&D did with GoT in an effort to conceal their continuity errors. Let’s make sure I don’t make continuity errors in the first place.

Scrivener has never supported text to text links. (Which is a pity, but it is what it is.) You could, and still can, create links from text to documents, as well as links from documents to documents, but not to text.

How were you working around this in v2? Your OP was about Project Notes, and somehow morphed to a discussion of the challenges you have with tracking many characters. (I am in a similar boat, and am still fumbling my way toward how to do this.) Were you somehow using Project Notes to accomplish it in v2?


The approach that Brookter describes is, in its essence, one that I’ve used for many years with Scrivener (and before that, I used it with the old version of Ulysses, and before that with plain-text files). It is an approach that withstands the test of time and relies upon very basic levels of technology.

I’ve posted a little more about my use of it, in this older thread.

The idea is that one generally wouldn’t need such a thing, but interestingly enough that previous thread does describe a way in which one could maintain a master list of notable bookmarks. But the technique itself is what you might refer to as an “emergent feature” in the sense that the content itself creates the necessary anchor points and hooks to get around with—and with Scrivener’s ample text finding features (including one that constrains itself to inline annotations or comments specifically!), I do not ever find myself wishing for a global list of bookmarks. But if I did, I could simply run a project search for my bookmark token, and now I have a concise list of every section in the project that has such a marker in it. ⌘G walks through the whole lot of them if I load the search result as Scrivenings.

As noted elsewhere I use a form of this technique for all kinds of markings. I embed my to-do list into the text itself using TODO markers and a saved search collection. There are many interesting ways in which this idea can be taken. Jumping from point A to point B precisely is only one useful side-effect of the overall approach. Another side-effect that you tend to not get with special-built GUI features is back-link collection. If your “MARK//19161700” marker is unique, and all points of text that refer to it use the same marker, then you can run a project search for just that one marker and find everything that is involved in whatever you are tracking with it. A hyperlink on the other hand only takes you one way, and gives you no hint as to what other items might also be linking to the blue underlined text you’re staring at. You might be able to get that information once you are there, but with this approach you can choose to either go directly to the target or gather the collective network right at the top.

Jim, I wasn’t (yet) working on this in v.2. For two years I was just trying to get the first eight chapters done. Along the way I developed a few dozen characters and began to have a brief notion of the work. It is just now, after finally upgrading to v.3 (which was postponed over a year because of massive changes in my personal life), that the project is coming more into focus and I am realizing the massive scope requires some industrial tools for organizing it.

As far as steering the OP into a ditch, apologies. I did start the thread because I was confused about Project Notes. Although I have, in the process of dialoguing with you and others here, realized that I need something completely different for a certain organizational taxonomy, in the process I learned about Project Notes, and I think I will end up using it for something completely different, but perhaps just as important to the project.