Formatting text in research cards on cork board

Is it possible to use bold/italics etc while writing text in research cards on the cork board?

I can change font for cards in Preferences, but can’t see how to use bold/italics while writing.

Thanks for the help!


No, it’s not; the synopsis, as with the title, is a plain-text field.

Thanks for the reply. I’ve now posted this desire in the Wish List, as it’s important to be able to accurately record things like an original author’s use of italics when recording a quote on the cards.

Unfortunately this probably won’t change in the near future, if ever, as that is part of the design rather than an oversight. I’m not sure if I follow why quotations need to be wearing their dressy clothes on an index card though. These are meant to be used as short notes to yourself, often about the content of the section they correspond to—much like you would use an ordinary index card.

If, as I do, you use Scrivener for non-fiction research projects, then cards are used to record excerpts from other research papers you want to quote. And those quotes have to be replicated in exactly the form the original author wrote in. E.g., some terms might be in italics and have to be copied as such. So there is nothing fancy about this need - it is an essential part of quoting properly in non-fiction research.

But that’s not what the cards are meant to do. The cards aren’t the content; they describe the content of their dependent document.

Quote from Middlemarch re trout streams (what’s on the card)

“I hear what you are talking about,” said the wife. “But you will make no impression on Humphrey. As long as the fish rise to his bait, everybody is what he ought to be. Bless you, Casaubon has got a trout-stream, and does not care about fishing in it himself: could there be a better fellow?”
“Well, there is something in that,” said the Rector, with his quiet, inward laugh. “It is a very good quality in a man to have a trout-stream.” (what’s on the document the card describes)

Cards can do whatever you want them to do, there are plenty of us who use Scrivener in a range of different ways. If you were engaged in non-fiction research and writing - where 3x5 cards have a long history in content organisation! - you would probably understand better the point being made. But I’ll end this discussion here.

However you use index cards, within Scrivener, you’ll have to mark up your index card text another way. While you’re probably not interested in MultiMarkdown, one thing you can borrow from it is the way that bold and italics are marked. Rather than relying on a font to italicize, you simply surround the word or phrase with underscores. To represent bold, put DOUBLE asterisks around the word or phrase to set it apart.

Technically, it’s the doubling of either _ or * that makes something bold, so that this is also bold, but I like to mix it up visually, and underlines are linked to italics in my mind, so the underscores look like underlining to me. You can ignore all of that though, if you’re not going to use MMD, and just use something like this to represent various formatting. {Curly braces} or [square brackets] might also work, or +plus signs+, or any of a large number of symbols that you can produce with your keyboard using the OPT key and SHIFT-OPT keys in combination with most letters & symbols.

There’s no right or wrong way to use the elements of Scrivener, but there are limitations to how each element can perform.

Thanks, good and helpful points, I’ll adapt some of those ideas.

You sometimes can’t fix everything with one software…

I use Scrivener primarily for my research, together with Papers2 for my background material (scientific articles in pdf-format) and Scapple. Maybe Scapple could be the tool for managing your quotes etc?

I annotate the pdf:s, i.e highlighting, making comments, etc, which is saved by Papers2 as a Note together with each pdf. When I am done I copy the Note into Scapple, where I can move things around as I wish, make connections between notes, arrange in groups, etc.

When I am done reading and analysing, and ready for writing, I export my Scapple notes to Scrivener as an RTF-file and start writing.

David has a point. In a long NF project, one often keeps index cards in a box designed for that purpose. Each has either the summary or a direct quote with a page number on it. Each card is then coded, by number, usually, to another card with the author and title and other publication data for the source. You alphabetize the source cards in one section of the card box, and then you organize the cards with quotes and paraphrases and statistics and such by chapter/topic. Easy peasy. I think it would make a lot of sense for Scrivener to reflect this organization.

For all of my creative projects, I use metapages, where I write about the project for a while longhand. Then I transfer the usable bits–notes to myself, questions for things I need to look up, snatches of dialogue I want to come back to, etc, to the index cards associated with that chapter. That way I can review them instantly in corkboard and see if I really want to keep any of them, where they go, etc. So, sometimes it would be great to be able copy text wholesale from an index card to the editor. In those cases it would be nice to have italics, at the very least, preserved across formats.

I also sometimes put cut text onto an index card and place them in subfolders within a folder outside the draft called “Frags.” So again, it would be nice to preserve the formatting in case I reincorporate that fragment. I like them on cards because again I can see them at a glance in corkboard whenever I’m in a fragment-reviewing mood, rather than scrolling linearly through the editor.

Just FWIW. Another view of someone’s use of Scrivener… :slight_smile: