Create a link / bookmark / cross-reference or something (in a document / folder) to a text phrase in the same document /

As I’m sure you were told in response to your original post, the comparison between Scrivener and Word, etc. is I mistaken from this pint of view. The text in a Word document is a single long file on disk or accessible in memory; the text in a Scrivener project is potentially thousands of separate files on disk, only the ones that are currently active being available for access.

Implementing a similar cross referencing system in Scrivener would, I suspect, create all sorts of problems.

On the other hand, if you’re keeping your whole text in a single document in Scrivener, you’re missing one of its most fundamental benefits and you might as well be using Word anyway.

It’s always worth checking the Wish List forum to see if this has been requested…and if so, whether L&L have commented on whether they are likely to add it.

I do not remember, sorry. But I would say, I do not compare anything here. And how could a / the comparison (if it was one) be mistaken?

Well, it can be one, it can be different files as well, as far as I know.

And what does that mean (here)?

Which ones? And why not just implenting it without creating all kind of problems?

I would not think so actually. Why do you think I keep my text (may be you mean the project) in a single document?

Thank you, but I assume, that might not help for now.

You said:

I’m not an expert, but if you change the .docx to .zip then extract it, you’ll find that all the actual text is in “Word > document.xml”, the rest is system/presentation matters.

It means that to cross-reference a stretch to another stretch in Word is a matter of setting a pointer to another point in the same file array which is open in memory. In Scrivener, if you have broken up your text into a hierarchy of subdocuments, your pointer is likely to be to a point in another file on disk, which is not currently open in memory; that must make it much more complicated.

As above.

I was using you in the impersonal sense, not you personally. On the other hand from other forum posts, it seems that there are those who do do something like that—I think I’ve read someone saying they have 60,000 words in a single document within a Scrivener project.

I suppose my point was that, to be able to implement word-processor style cross-referencing in Scrivener, Scrivener would have to use a single-file system like Word, which is to negate one of the whole reasons that KB developed Scrivener in the first place.

It might be worth it anyway. I seem to remember that back in the early days of Scrivener 2 for Mac, KB said that he wasn’t planning a style system, as it posed too many serious problems, or words to that effect; but we have a style system now … even though it is not identical to Word’s. So you never know, he might yet find the solution to cross referencing.



Sorry for my bad expression, I meant one can cross-reference / link text phrases in Word, Libre/OpenOffice with another document (as far as I remember), so link text in one document to another.

So a single file for the text only. OK, sorry, but I am not sure to understand what that means in this context.

Alright, implementing such will not be so easy. But possible, I guess. May be there are other ways, less difficult ones.

Ah, I see, sorry for misunderstanding. Oops, 60,000…maybe even more…well…I mean…here…there are strange people…unidentified…you’ll never know what they are doing…and why…

Yes, that would be great of course. Thank you, Mark.

A small point, if I remember correctly: I believe that the fundamental issue here is that RTF has no mechanism for providing anchors to specific words. Because Scrivener uses RTF as its base file format, any features it provides either have to be native to RTF or have a way to be extended through the RTF engine, and this isn’t one of them.

Word can do this because they have always used their own file formats that built in support for that functionality, whether in the old .doc format or the new .docx.

Interesting, Devin. I’ve wondered if there was some underlying technical difficulty of making internal links to text.

But as Comments/Footnotes are able to establish pointers back to text, it seems that anchors to text in RTF might not be the challenge, or the whole challenge. That is, if I click on a Comment in the inspector, Scrivener takes me to the anchored text.

(But perhaps this works for Comments/Footnotes because, by definition, the document containing the text is already loaded in the editor at the time? Don’t know.)

Frankly, because Comments can point to text, I’ve always assumed that technically text to text linking was also solvable, and that Scriv doesn’t have it because L&L doesn’t consider it within scope. I’ve observed they tend not to implement features that are achievable through other means–which is certainly their right–and there are certainly workarounds for the lack of text to text links.


I’ve been trying to re-find the thread where it was discussed, but no luck yet. Footnotes I believe are part of the RTF spec, though.

Devin, This is kinda old, from 2010, but maybe you meant this brief discussion?


That could be, but I thought there was a newer discussion that talked about how links were actually implemented and why they were chosen to work that way given the limitations of the RTF spec.

There’s always the chance that the discussion happened off-forum as well…

I can’t speak for Keith, but I’ve never quite understood what need intra-document links address that cannot be met by the more “Scrivener-like” method of splitting a document and using document-to-document links.

Generally speaking, I have found that many people take an unnecessarily narrow view of the Binder hierarchy, limiting themselves to only those divisions that will ultimately be visible to readers. In fact one of the main reasons why Scrivener is structured the way it is, is so that writers don’t have to limit themselves in that way.


I think in a lot of cases it’s a trust issue. Not having WYSIWYG is scary for a lot of people, because even while it can be a huge time sink as you rabbit trail into formatting minutiae, you at least feel like you have control of the process the whole way. Compiling is a big learning curve, and it takes time, and having to re-work your habits to accommodate a totally non-intuitive way of doing things requires a level of trust in the technology and the workflow that it takes time to acquire. WYSIWYG gives you the illusion of intuitiveness.

Probably also has to do with whether the writer’s own process is linear or not. Scrivener may be a more natural fit for writers who are naturally prone to jumping around.


Well, Katherine, since you asked, :slight_smile: , it’s all due to the the lowly page up/page down keys.

I haven’t owned a mouse since the early 90’s, after a brush with carpal tunnel issues. In Windows now I can get around as needed 70-80% using keyboard shortcuts, and the remainder with the touchpad, when I’m using my laptop’s keyboard. Frequently, though, I put my Lenovo in stand mode and for the most part can navigate using a lovely mechanical keyboard, occasionally having to tap the touch screen…But no reaching for a mouse.

(I’ve read complaints on the forum that the beta is not touchscreen friendly, but I find it works well enough for my needs.)

I realize that I’m an outlier in my non-mousiness, but Scrivener supports me almost perfectly in this regard. Nearly everything I need is accessible via the keyboard. Ctrl-shift B, Ctrl-tab,shift arrow down down down, Ctrl-tab, Ctrl-1, page up/page down–

Page up/page down in Scrivenings mode. This is where things fall apart. In every other Windows program I’ve ever used, in decades of Windows programs, page up/page down moves whatever’s on your screen a full screen up or a full screen down. Except Scrivenings mode. In.Windows Scrivener Scrivenings mode, page up/page down moves you to the top or bottom of the current Scrivenings document.

That won’t work for me. I’ve never heard anyone else complain about this, so it must not be an issue for all the Win Scriv mousers out there, who are perhaps using scroll wheels to navigate Scrivenings, but it won’t work for me. I can’t overcome decades of muscle memory to remember not to use Page up/page down in Scrivenings mode. The times I’ve forced myself to try it–and I’ve forced myself many times since purchasing Scrivener in 2014–I inevitably wind up reflexively paging up or down but it’s not a screen’s worth it’s the entire document and who knows where I’ve ended up now and my flow is gone.

So I can’t use Scrivenings mode. And if I can’t use Scrivenings mode, that encourages me to keep my notes in larger documents, because I like being able to page up/page down rapidly through my material and see everything flow past. Moving up and down through binder documents isn’t the same, because I only get a screen’s worth of the document, and to see the rest of the document I’d need to move focus from the binder to the document and then Page up/page down. Again, interrupting flow.

And since my notes are in larger documents, linking to documents isn’t very useful, as the documents are not granular enough. Hence my desire for the ability to link to text intra-document.

I’d love to keep my material in smaller, focused documents, and then use Scrivenings mode to stitch them all together and flow through them seamlessly, and leverage document links to point one to another.

But I can’t, due to page up/page down.

(I bet your now sorry you asked :slight_smile: )



Here something suitable / similar with perhaps a different starting point:

While I’m not sure that intra-document links are completely unnecessary, I do want to say that what Scrivener allows, even invites, you to do in the Binder has helped free me from needless linearity. I’ve got one project for creating recurring short talks that has Binder folders for each talk, and under each talk folders for different kinds of reference materials and notes based on those materials, with Scrivener links to go from one to the other, and to get from preliminary text segments to those notes. And so on. I’ve found that it really does help me focus on what I need to do in the process of creation rather than final formatted output.

Hi Katherine and others,

I can provide an additional reason why I want to be able to do this.

I am writing a very large (140,000 words) report for a legal proceeding. They require all paragraphs to be numbered so they can be specific when discussing the report in court. I have used the <$N>. placeholder at the start of every paragraph to create this numbering. I now need to be able to cross-reference to those paragraphs. So that within the text it can say Xxxxx (see para ###).

While I divide my project manuscript up into many many binder documents (some seen by readers some not), I do not want to have to put a paragraph into its own document so I can target it with a cross-reference.

I have not fully explored the links people have provided in this thread, or the possibility of using bookmarks so I will do that. But at the moment the only thing I can think of is to leave a note for myself then add the cross references in Word after compile (obviously it’ll take a lot of time with a manuscript this big).

I am LOVING Scrivener for writing, and I know there is a lot more to learn for me. But this, which is certainly a bit specific to my purpose, is making it harder to stick with.

For example, if I haven’t found workaround when I get to a good draft at the end of this week I will compile it to Word and then stay in Word after that (fearing its instability with something this big). A shame also as I loose all my other notes to myself etc (n.b. I LOVE the feature of being able to add notes in the text in style that does not appear in compile), amongst other things.

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Why not?

I’m not being snide. Having multiple paragraphs in one document is one of those things we as users have gotten used to because that’s how our applications have always done it, but it’s not the only way to do it. There’s no other writing program quite like Scrivener where you have the freedom and flexibility to break down how the text is represented in the the editor and still be able to produce a unified, cohesive document via the Compiler. Setting up your Binder structure to reflect your required document structure helps Scrivener keep the heavy lifting for you, instead of you having to subconsciously track it.

So take a few bits from your main project, copy them into a new test project, and play with the new structure a little. See how it feels. Find out whether the option actually might work for you before you reject it.

I agree with this. Another reason though why people may not use Scrivenings mode is they may tend to write one chapter or scene per document, and thus spend most of their time in document mode. I know that’s what happens to me.

It’s only that the number of factions (threads) which have come together toward the end, that I find myself attempting to use Scrivenings mode all that much. In earlier portions of the book, it was easy enough to go from chapter to chapter (in my case, from scene to scene) without disruption since there are larger stretches with the same faction.

So it may just be that a lot of people don’t need it much, and then when they do use it and experience the PgUp/Dn issue, they don’t see it / notice it, or else think it’s something anomalous happening.

It’s unfortunate that the problem exists, because Scrivenings mode would be really useful for pulling out an isolated view from a faction, and editing it as one block, independent of the others.


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I think Ioa Petra’ka has a solution here, although it may not work on Windows yet. (I think there are linking issues in Windows v3.)

Link specific text from document to document