Footnote wish


I just downloaded your demo and so far I am very impressed. I have been finding Word rather unwieldly for the process of moving back and forth between notetaking and dissertation-writing. (I am a history grad student).

I immediately notice something that I wish for, though: a way to collapse footnotes so that I don’t have to look at them. Sometimes historians’ footnotes are very long and they disrupt the flow of the ideas if you can’t hide them.

I have in mind something as simple as double-clicking on a note to hide it (substituting, say, an asterisk graphic) and double-clicking again to reveal it. A menu/keyboard command for “show all footnotes”/“hide all footnotes” would also be handy.

Apologies if this has already been discussed. I looked through the forums and did not see anyone who had raised it already.


Andrew Sparling

I agree with you, Andrew; but see: … highlight= … highlight= … ollapsible

And in the last thread, especially the following words of our wizard Keith:

“One thing that I looked into was collapsible annotations. That is, whereby you can just choose to hide any given annotation (or all of them), leaving behind just a marker in the text that could be clicked on to reveal the annotation again. This is still something I would like to implement at sometime in the future. Unfortunately, it proved very, very difficult even to prototype given the text system as it stands. Cutting out and then showing chunks of text on the fly throws the undo manager into complete disarray - currently the only way to do it would be to clear the undo stack every time you collapsed or expanded an annotation, which would not be great. So to really get something like this working would take a lot of work and a lot of customising of the OS X text system. It is therefore on my list for consideration around the 2.0 mark, when there is another big development push. Hope that makes sense.”

In other words: it will come, but not immediately; and there are good reasons for it.

Thanks for replying and finding those threads, Timotheus, much appreciated.

Yes, the footnotes work exactly the same as the annotations, so this would be very difficult, although I agree that it would be great if Scrivener could do this.

I would just modify Timotheus’s comment of “It will come” to “It may come”, though. :slight_smile:

All the best,

Wow. Thanks for your quick responses! I have been playing with the program some more this morning and I continue to be impressed. Also, I am gnerally very sympathetic to the design aesthetic–concentrate on the tools needed for drafting and design the product around the process. That’s what makes the application so attractive.

I followed up on the links and they were informative. I will write to Apple. But I’d just like to add a point about certain kinds of writing in the humanities: when I say notes are long, I mean sometimes several hundred words. I’m a historian, writing a dissertation on seventeenth-century alchemy. Bibliographic matters are often far from clear and you pretty much have to iron them out as you write, but they would do more to clutter the main text than annotations like, say, “fix this later” (which annotations, I may add, I always make in the main text rather than using Word’s “annotations” feature).

Hmm, to make my point, let me pull a note out of my current chapter and just toss it in here to demonstrate how it disrupts the flow:

The translations are a) Theodor Haak, trans. (1636), Nosce teipsum, Das grosse Geheimnuß deß Selb-Betrugs, oder, Reiche und in Gottes Wort gegründete Betrachtung und Entdeckung der grossen Betrüglickeit und Tücke des Menschlichen Hertzens, dardurch nicht allein einer den andern sondern ein jeder allermeist sich selbsten zu betriegen und zu verführen pfleget, by Daniel Dyke (Frankfurt a.M.: Johann Friedrich Weiß); subsequent seventeenth-century editions in 1637, 1638, 1643 (three editions), 1652, 1660, 1667, 1671, 1681, and 1691; translation of D. Dyke (1614), The Mystery of Selfe-Deceiving, or, A Discovrse and Discouery of the Deceitfullnesse of Mans Heart (London: Ralph Mab); b) Haak, trans. (1637), Eine sehr nohtwendige und uberauß nützliche Betrachtung und Beschreibung der wahren Busse, als deß ersten und fürnemhbsten Grundwercks zum wahren Christenthumb, deß ersten und nothwendigsten Alphabets zur rechten und seligen Erkantnuß Christi und deß einigen und richtigsten Weg zum Himmelreich, by Daniel Dyke (Frankfurt a.M.: Johann Friedrich Weiß, 1637; subsequent seventeenth-century edition in 1643; printed with the Nosce teipsum in 1652, 1671, 1681, and 1691; translation of D. Dyke (1616), A Treatise of Repentance, in his Two Treatises, the One, of Repentance, the Other, of Christs Temptations, 1–198 (London: Ralph Mab). To date, I have not seen either German translation. Barnett (1962), Theodore Haak, 15, is not aware of the earliest editions, citing as first editions D. Dyke (1638), Nosce teipsum and D. Dyke (1643), Nützliche Betrachtung. On The Mystery of Selfe-Deceiving in the context of English Puritan thought, see, e.g., Theodore Dwight Bozeman (2004), The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Chapel HIll and London: University of North Carolina Press), 161–63 and 234.

See what I mean? Kind of like a Pythonesque 20 tons dropped on the poor Dickensian scrivener at his or her writing desk. And after the next sentence, there’s another note (mercifully, not quite as long). And so on.

So you can see why I am desperate to hide these things.

But a workaround would be fine. The suggestion of an automated process for inserting long notes as separate documents isn’t bad. Alternatively, would it be possible to allow for use of hidden text, as Word does? Then I could just format all notes as hidden and leave them invisible until I toggled “show hidden.” I don’t see a way to format hidden text in Scrivener and I have no idea whether the OS makes this easy, but RTF seems to allow for marking text hidden.

It would then be relatively easy to convert the chunks of hidden text to footnotes manually in a word processor, by searching for the blocks of hidden text.

Just a thought. Otherwise, I shall have to contemplate linking to a whole string of other documents–a couple hundred per chapter (!). This may be more work than it’s worth, but I am desperate for a better writing tool, and Scrivener sure looks and feels right.

Again, I apologize if this is going over old ground.



The only thing I could do would be to set footnotes and annotations to have the same colour as the text view background and hide their bubbles, thus effectively “hiding” them - but they would still be selectable and there would be big chunks of whitespace where they really are…
All the best,

I’m doing exactly the kind of things you’re doing, Andrew: I too write very long academic things with hundreds of sometimes very long footnotes. And I am a very enthusiastic user of Scrivener, but I must say that for this particular kind of thing I find Mellel a better choice than Scrivener, especially because Scrivener has its limits as far as notes are concerned.

One of the strong points of Mellel is its multiple (foot/end) note streams feature. In my long academic writings I always work with three note streams. The first note stream, in black, contains the notes that are part of the work and will be published. The second note stream, in red, contains observations about the things that have to be done, to be checked, about the things I’m not sure about, etc. etc. In the third note stream, in blue, are registered all things that have already been done, checked etc. This may seem a bit weird, but when you’re working for years on a large and complicated project, sooner or later the day comes you can’t remember anymore what you already checked and what still has to be checked: at least in my case. Anyway, this is how I work, and I feel perfectly happy with it.

But as I said, I’m a very enthusiastic user of Scrivener too. I tend to use Scrivener for collecting things that will never be published, or will be published in a very different form. For instance, I do have a Scrivener project which contains all kinds of things about my private life: diaries, holiday accounts, holiday plans, family things, etc. Another project contains annotations about all kinds of boring financial and business-like things: mortgage, pension, insurance, banking, etc. etc. Moreover, I do have some projects which contain all my loose annotations about subjects and authors I’m working on: one about historiography, for instance, another about translating, a third about author x, a fourth about author y, and so on.

This works all very fine. Mellel and Scrivener are all I need for writing and annotating. I do own a whole army of other wordprocessors and note managers, but I rarely use them, and the day will come I’ll trash them all.

I wonder if, in the long run (2.x+), Scrivener links might be pressed into service here. One could have a Notes folder in the binder and you could insert links to documents inside it in your main text as (foot|end)note holders. It might even be possible to display the linked documents inline, as footnotes and annotations are now, by something akin to the Edit Scrivenings… function. Upon export, there would be an option to convert links to notes in RTF or whatever.

It would largely be useful to academic writers, and so the potential audience might not interest Keith, but it might be a way to solve the problem without resorting to a completely different text engine. Admittedly I’m sure there are a dozen complications I’m not thinking of here (not least how you ensure that notes are not “orphaned” when the main text is altered or deleted).


Sounds like the best bet is to appeal to Apple, and the in the meantime I should experiment with whether I can use the link function to put at least longer notes into sidebars that will go into separate documents for now.

What exactly would Apple have to do in order to make this matter trlatively easy to address?



Hmm, I can’t say too much here, but it seems that Apple have ways of doing exactly what I want to do… I’m just not quite sure how they do it. I will be looking into this for 2.0, though…

Now that is one of the best things that I have heard lately. :slight_smile:

Well, I’m not sure about that, because although Apple can do it, there are no public methods available for doing it… :frowning: So it may just be a source of frustration until the next OS X update. Hmm, I think this is one to talk about when Leopard comes out. :wink: