New to Scrivener 3.1.5 on 10.14.6; still learning…

What’s the best way, please, to include definitions (for instance for polymer: ‘a substance that has a molecular structure consisting chiefly or entirely of a large number of similar units bonded together,’ away from the body of my text (medical/scientific notes) - perhaps hyperlinked, certainly as something like footnotes/endnotes separate from the main text so as not to interrupt its flow?


What do you ultimately want to do with the definitions? Are they for your own use, or will you want to incorporate them into the finished manuscript?



Thanks :slight_smile:

Entirely my own use; although they are relevant and essential to the finished document, what I really want to do is have them separated for ease of reading in some way. I think that must be possible in Scrivener.

Am starting to read up on Corona and viruses to try and understand it all. Am not a scientist.

I started in TextEdit. But - not being familiar with the (biochemical) terminology, I began by defining each of the new technical terms I encountered in my reading integrated into the text.

But - as often happens with such language - one term requires another to explain it. So I had nested definitions in the body o the main text. It was a mess; a chain of interjections in parens.

Ideally, I suppose a separate area/notes/dictionary etc where I can define all the terms used ahead of time and/or after the fact. And just link to them - as WikiPedia does. Although they needn’t be popovers etc.

Your advice appreciated :slight_smile:

One way:

Create a new folder for the definitions. Each new definition will be a separate document in that folder, with the title being the word or concept and the body of the document the definition itself.

In the text, when you enter a word that has already been defined, enter it in [[square brackets]] and this will create a wiki link to the definition document – if you enter the first few letters and press either cmd-escape or opt-escape (sorry, not at the mac and I can’t remember exactly), it will offer to auto-complete the title. Or you can simply select the word and choose to Add Link from the context menu – if the word is the same as one already defined, it will offer it as an auto-suggestion; otherwise you can select the desired word from the menu.

If you enter a word that needs a new definition, then simply type [[the new word]], then you will be asked where you want to create a new document (your definition folder, obviously), and a new editor or quick reference panel will open up so you can type the definition.

You’ll need to set a couple of things up first:

a) In Preferences > Corrections, make sure the wiki links box is ticked

b) In Behaviours > Document Links (I think, again I’m not at my Mac), choose how you want newly created links to open - e.g. in a quick reference panel (probably what you want), the other editor or the current editor.

I think that’s about it – there are probably a couple of wrinkles about how it works, and you should probably read the section in the manual on Document Links to get the full picture, but the above is basically how it works.

Other tips:

Now and then you can select the Definitions folder in the Binder and sort it alphabetically (Edit > Sort, I think, but it may be on the Documents menu!)

You can open the Definitions folder as an outline in the second editor so that you have a quick way of referring to existing definitions while you work in the main editor. Advanced tip!: use the Documents > Autocomplete > Set synopsis from text feature (approximate title…) and you’ll able to see the first part of the definitions in the outline (if you’ve set the outline to show them).

As I said, this is just one way, but it’s the way I’d choose.


My approach to this would be to use the Notes pane. That way you could have the definitions beside the main text you are working on. This is what I usually do when I want to have something to refer to while I am writing. Of course, you can also use split screen and have a reference in one editing pane and your main text in another.

In short, it is probably best to experiment and find what works for you.

I was going to suggest using Comments, but I like Brookter’s solution better. It creates a project-wide glossary, while Comments and Notes are more tied to individual documents.

There are also a couple of personal wiki tools out there that you might consider if you’re not otherwise a Scrivener user.


Thanks so much, Katherine, brookter and mbbntu!

What a great community :slight_smile:

I’m going to experiment today and see what I can make work best following your advice.

I think I do want the ‘annotations’ to be tied to the document, but the separate file in a separate folder idea appeals because of the way in which that support the wiki model, which is exactly what I want.

I don’t want it to be too complicated - just easier to read, as wiki is,

At this stage, I don’t really have a Project as such. But after what you’ve all kindly suggested, perhaps I should?!

You already do in the Scrivener sense. The file.scriv thing in Finder? That’s a project.



Of course:-)

Of course I have a Project!

I bought Scrivener several months ago because research and reviews suggested it was the best tool for this kind of job. Now I am beginning to see why!

My bad, though… never really got into the software; until now.

But have just spent the last couple of hours watching both YT and L&L video tutorials.

Feel a lot more informed now - ready to try experimenting further.

Have set up linking (I discovered that I need to use ⌘-L, not ⌘-K; and I couldn’t get [[square brackets]] to work) and it all seems to be working just as everyone said it would.

And it is considered good practice to have that ‘Definitions’ Folder inside ‘Research’, which may have many dozens of definitions?

Thanks again!

May I once more thank everyone who helped me with this: I am making tremendous progress!

But Links to my linked Definitions (in the Research folder) in my main text do not seem to survive the Compile process… (external) URLs, yes, Wiki-like (⌘-L), no.

Secondly, if I may, I have noticed that when I go to add text to/amend/edit a Definition (again, in files under Research),if say, I enter (new) text after a Return, the (Scrivener) style which I have applied to my Definitions is not applied (to the new text).

Anyone know which settings or preferences I am missing, perhaps. I have looked - honest :slight_smile: