filling custom meta-data field in outliner

I just can’t find the answer to this question. How do I automatically fill in a custom meta data field with a code? Here’s the long version. I’m importing/splitting a number of articles saved in .txt format. I want to stash somewhere the information about where the initial source of particular paragraph (used as a note in a new book project). These notes will be relevant to different parts of the book. So I also made a custom meta-data field, “mydocs,” expecting that I could save that tidbit of information for each individual paragraph. I go to outliner view and see a very satisfying outline consisting of the first line of each paragraph and a column labeled “my docs.”

Now what I would like to do is enter a source abbreviation that gets associated with each paragraph in field. Suppose my source is “TU.” I’d like to type TU in the first row and then “drag it down” (imagine doing this in an excel file) or doing some kind of copy-paste an entry for each selected line of the outline, which seems a bit weird as it’s a one-to-many operation. I have lots of articles to do this with and will rarely need the information (but when I do, could go nuts looking for it), so I don’t want to clog status, labels and keywords with this rarely needed information.

In short, in the outliner, rather than typing TU into each line of the field, I’d like an automatic way to fill it in for the entire article that has been split when imported.
Any ideas?

I would try using keywords for this instead of custom meta-data. That particular tool is better when you have one common “thing” that many shared items have, where each item is likely to have a different value for that thing. A simple example of that might be a “Published Date” field, for use in the research area. Lots of PDFs will have that attribute in common, but it’s likely hardly any of them will share a precise publication date.

Keywords on the other hand are good for random things you need to track, where lots of items may be bound together by a single, non-variable thing. An example here would be what you are doing: identifying a batch of documents as being “TU”. Hundreds may share that same value, and really the only important thing about it is that they can all be gathered together later. If you wish to use keywords for more than one thing, you can prefix them, like “Source:TU”, or use individual colours for types of things. All blue things could be source markers, while orange represents topics, etc.

Back to custom fields, there is no way to “fill” a value across many items like that, though, which is why I think keywords would work better here.

Thanks for your reply, AmberV. I might have been unclear in my goal, it may be that it wasn’t the right goal in the first place. The Scrivener documents are imported as split paragraphs. The are from a Word file that was subsequently published (in effect, a pdf file). Each file has a unique publication date as well a a title. (I could use the publication date for this job, but knowing the journal title instead is slightly more useful.) The parts of the file (i.e., the Scrivener documents) are unique, but share the same source, e.g., TICS or AnnRev or JPSP or JPSP2. So there are four files (journal articles, two published in the same journal). There might be around 40-60 Scrivener documents with TICS in the meta-data field. The next paper might have around the same number of Scrivener documents (notes). When using a Scrivener document/note from one of my previous papers, it helps to know from which paper, especially if there is an important concept that occurs in a number of different sources.

I’ve resisted using keywords because it would make the keyword list pretty bulky if I added a list of publications, although I suppose that I could just add a “main keyword” container (e.g., MyPubs) and keep the list there. It might turn out that I want to know any time that I handled that document (note), I want to know from which of my papers the note comes. I don’t think that I want to regularly know that about a Scrivener document, but I will think about it to see if something comes up.
Thanks again for your help,

Have you tried organising your keywords yet? If not, pop open the keywords panel and try making a new keyword as a category, then drop some related keywords onto it. You can make little trees just like in the Binder. I have a few projects with a lot of keywords, and I have them all organised into containers, as well as using the colour scheme to bind together similar types.

Either way, when it comes to searching and using the outliner, these two have roughly the same level of utility I think. Both can be searched for or viewed in the outliner. Keywords has a slight edge of being visible on the corkboard as well, if that’s relevant.

The difference is really in the application. With keywords you select 80 documents from all over the Binder and drop a keyword on the selection to assign it to those 80 documents. A lot easier than typing in the same thing over and over, at any rate! If this is something you’re going to be doing a lot of, you want to make it as easy as possible.

It may not always be this way, but based on how the software currently works, that would be my advice.

I haven’t had to do it in quite the the bulk and frequency it sounds like you need, but when I do need to add repeat information like this to a big series of documents in the outliner, my trick is to select all the documents that need the same data and load them in the outliner, then get rid of all the columns except the one that needs to be edited. Enter the data in to the top field, Cmd-A, Cmd-C then just Tab and Cmd-V all the way down. :slight_smile:

If you save your layout before clearing all the columns (Windows > Layouts > Manage Layouts), it’s easy to return to the previous setup when you’re finished

Thanks! I’ll play with both of these approaches, including a third one.
AmberV, I like to keep keywords for things that I need to know about a document on an ongoing basis. I wouldn’t be able to search for the parts of an article (unless they were already tagged–see below) in order to give them the name of the source article by keyword. At the moment of “import and split,” I have them all arranged in order in one big chunk. I anticipate needing to know the source of one of the split documents only on rare occasions, when an anomaly arises. MimeticMouton, you’ve answered my main question, which is that there is no excel-like function that enables copying a field entry by dragging in the outliner.

Nevertheless, this discussion has been generative. I’ve experimented in my Word file with adding a “tag” along with a delimiter to the end of a paragraph before converting the file into text. After “import and split,” the delimiter is gone but my “mypubs” code “” is at the end of each new Scrivener document. These documents go into my research files for notes. I suspect that there is an approach to using the other meta-data, including the keywords, to greatly speed the process of putting a book together based on my prior research.

For example, several papers concern “Theory of Mind,” and every section of every paper will have an beginning, middle, and end. I could use keywords for “ToM,” and “beg,” “mid,” and “end.” Or use the status or label fields for “beg,” “mid,” and “end,” and collect the topical items as keywords; in effect, creating a simplified shadow outline of the binder. However, one more focused and flexible for bringing together, say, “ToM” as topic and all the documents having “mid” as a label or status. A fast review of that collection of documents would let me know immediately what new research I need to locate and/or where my theoretical argument for the section (perhaps now a chapter) is weak. Does this sound like a reasonable direction to explore? Are there potholes to avoid or shortcuts to follow?
Thanks for your help!