How do I?

Rather than list a specific feature request (a feature which may already be somewhere within Scrivener, beyond my grasp) I will list some things I wish I could do with the app:

  1. Margin notes - really like this in Jer’s. Actually, what I want is a way to identify a section, paragraph, or even a word that needs further development and have my thoughts associated with that item displayed (and editable). This could be in a margin, a separate window, etc. but the key is that it is highlighted and displayed.

  2. Conflict awareness - these marginal thoughts could have a due date association (nagging reminder!) and you can’t export until they are resolved.

  3. Update styles - even though Scrivener is not meant to be a Word Processor, we all write better when the text is appealing. When I past something into Scrivener, I would like to be able to have the text match the rest of the document.

You have put a lot of work into this, and it shows! Count on my $$ when you are commercial…


  1. There are a couple of ways to do this. If you identify a section of text that needs work, you can decide to use a highlighter colour for this type of problem, select the text, choose the highlighter colour you want, and press the highlight button, or Shift-Cmd-H. Another option is to use the Annotation feature, which will actually treat the selected text as a special block which can be exported differently. So you can temporarily remove a chunk of text by selecting it and choosing Annotation from the Text menu. This is also a good way to add the types of notes to yourself that you would add using Margin Notes in NovelWriter. Since there is only one type of Annotation, you might want to invent a little keyword system to prefix before your notes so you can search for types of annotations. For example, I use "RWRI: " to mean "Rewrite: ". Doing a quick search for RWRI will show me all the documents that need rewritten sections.

  2. Goes against my philosophy of having an application be a tool and not a teacher/police officer. But that is just my personal opinion. :slight_smile: Due date is more interesting, but my guess is that Keith will say it is outside of the scope of Scrivener. Maybe some sort of Leopard ToDo tie-in in the future would be appropriate, though.

  3. This function already exists. If you are comfortable with the keyboard, Opt-Shift-Cmd-V pastes text using the current style where the cursor is located. It is also located in the Edit menu, “Paste and Match Style”. Incidentally, this feature is rather common amongst Cocoa applications on the Mac.

Thanks for the kind words. I hope this helps:

Margin notes have been discussed here and on the old beta forums ( in the past. Scrivener is unlikely ever to have margin notes, I am afraid. Another user posted a very good argument against margin notes somewhere, the core of which is that if you want to make a long note, it soon trails away down the margin a long way from the text to which it is associated. That said, I do love Jer’s and think he has a good approach; it’s just that I’m not going to be going the same way for Scrivener.

Instead, Scrivener has annotations. You create annotations by selecting a block of text and selecting “annotation” from the Text menu (or by using the keyboard shortcut). Or you can select this option and start typing your annotation. By default, the annotation will be red text with an outline around it, although you can change the colour via the font colour panel. You can choose to omit annotations from the draft when you export. Or you can export them as RTF comments that can be viewed in MS Word. Moreover, you can then use the “Find Annotations” feature (in the Find menu) to browse through all of the annotations in your project, so that you can easily find what you still need to do.

Sorry, this is a bit beyond the scope of Scrivener at this time…

You can already do this. Just use “Paste and Match Style” (Alt-Shift-Cmd-V) instead of “Paste” when pasting text into your document.

All the best,

As we actively demonstrate the tautological nature of this coffee drinking site!

Thanks, but I am still not getting my idea across: basically, I want to associate comments with specific items in the text, be it sections, paragraphs, or words. but I want to be able to access these as I write/review the story - not after I have exported it.

Maybe I am doing this wrong, but highlighting, footnoting, and annotating only changes the formatting of the text - it does not give me a place where I can add comments.

One way to do this would be to make the “Notes” window pertain to specific areas in the text (and srollable for large notes!)

Since I don’t know how to attach an image to these posts, please see my concept here:


Maybe I didn’t make myself very clear, either. :slight_smile: Annotations are designed so that you can omit them when you export them. Yes, you can export them so that they can be seen in Word, but you don’t have to. The idea is that you can type your notes about a specific word, sentence or paragraph inside the text itself, and that those notes won’t be included when you export. The formatting is just a visual indicator that the notes are not really part of the document iself.

The idea behind Scrivener’s annotations is that the placement of the annotation becomes the marker. In your mock-up you have a word selected and a line running to a block of expanatory text. In Scrivener, you would simply place the Annotation directly before/after the text it concerns. Its contextual placement becomes an indicator of what it is referring to. If you need further enlightment, use of the highlighter is always a possibility. (As an aside, footnotes work exactly the same way. They are placed where the little reference number will go, but they appear as a simple formatting change in Scrivener.)

And as Keith said, these do not export (unless you tell them to), so it is just like a margin note, without all of the space limitations of a margin note, and the extra clutter associated with describing its context in the main text flow. Think about this condition, your example works fine with one or two short notes per page – what if you have 10 or 15 notes on a page, and each note is a paragraph or more in length? How do you draw lines to all of them? Where do you display them all in a way that has the notes at least remotely near the pointer? And so forth.

The line was for illustration only - not meant to be a feature! So you have 10 “highlighted” text fragments, and each comment appears in the Notes window as the highlighted test is moused-over, or inserted.

To me it is cleaner than cluttering up your work with in-line elements…


Basically, we’ve got two different “notes” philosophies between us. I am of the camp that uses notes rather heavily, and as a direct editing aid. Scanning through a document that has been annotated and is ready for rewritting, I can easily see all of my original concerns, and the areas they are concerned with in one view, as fast as my eye can scan a page of text, which is around a hundred words per second.

The pointer/content method does not facilitate this method at all. At its worst you cannot even see the content without using the mouse or excessive keyboarding. At best, the dislocation of content and context reduces scanning speed to a crawl.

But, on the other hand you have the other style of notation which is much less intensive and deserves less prominence. This style was certainly considered very strongly in the original draft of the annotation concept, but unfortunately some of the mechanisms which would make your style easier were very difficult to adopt, technically speaking, and may or may not appear in the future.

In the meantime, do give inline a try. The appearance has been designed to make it very easy for the eye to see what is and what is not a note. Once you have lived with the system for a while (maybe even a month or two) your mind will be trained to completely ignore them when you wish to.

Amber: you have summed it up brilliantly! For my part, I like to be able to reread what I have written each time that I view an element in my project - as if I were reading it anew: how does this sound? how am I doing here? these three paragraphs look funny together, etc. etc. I most certainly do not want to see annotations and other sidetracks until I am ready for them!

I don’t want to be distracted by notes, etc. but, on the same hand, I do want to facilitate them when I so choose. With the eponymous app mentioned previously, one can minimize the margin notes window to get it completely out of the way, although there, too, I long for highlighed references.

Enough said - doesn’t look like this is going my way. I will simply have to use both apps and choose the one I am most comfortable with. Or, I could go back to using Word, which pretty much has all of this stuff, albiet it in a Microsoft derivation.


IMO, in-line annotation is better than margin notes for all the reasons AmberV and KB mentioned. But I also agree with you that a document with many in-line annotations can become very difficult to read. An easy and elegant way to solve this problem would be an option to hide/show all in-line elements. A click on an icon in the menu bar would hide all in-line annotations so that you can easily follow the flow of your text, and another click would show them again.

For some reason, I expected this option to be part of Scrivener’s new annotations feature. I don’t know where I got this idea from - wishful thinking? An earlier forum post? Anyway, this could be a nice feature addition to Scrivener 1.1 or 1.2.

Precisely the problem – and honestly there are times when I’d like to just read a straight copy, too. The original design facilitated this via a global hide which would have reduced each note down to a tiny, light grey bullet; along with the ability to hide and show individual notes independently. It is my opinion that these abilities are crucial to any inline notation system. But, like I said, we are kind of stuck with an in-between right now. But, at least know that Keith is totally aware of the issue (and I gripe about it constantly), so it isn’t something that slipped under the radar or anything. There is actually extensive theory and documentation for a system which would address all of this. It is something that has had a lot of thought put into it. The only problem is that it is one of those things that would have set back the release of Scrivener by half a year. Personally, I’d rather have a half-complete notation system now, than waiting another six months.

In the mean-time! Here are some relatively painless workarounds. Go to Page Setup in the File menu. In the Settings drop-down choose Scrivener, then the “Text Options” tab. Tick the box that says “Remove annotations”.

Now, when you wish to read a pristine copy of anything you are working on, hit Cmd-P, then “Preview” and you’ll get a little PDF style viewer with your document.

If you would rather have an editable copy, Shift-Cmd-E comes in handy. Just make sure it is set to not export notes.

AmberV, you’re a gem! You know this program so well, user-wise! That’s a great workaround. Glad to hear Keith may be looking into this option down-the-road, and I quite agree it’s better to have it as is than wait for Scr.


Agreed. And thanks for the workaround.

You’re telling me - I just had to go and check what Cmd-Shift-E did. :slight_smile:

OK, I worked out a process that seems to fit my eye:

  1. I insert the cursor at the paragraph immediately below the paragraph, or chunk of text, or whatever that I wish to comment
  2. Edit/Split Document at Selection
  3. Go back to the original text (the one above the “page” I have just created) and add a Note or Synopsis to it
  4. Add a note or synopsis to the “page” that follows, ad infinitum
  5. To see them all together you can shift-select the “pages” and do the edit scrivenings thing, or you can merge everything back into one “page”.
  6. This all exports to a continuous Word document anyway, where you can format pages to your heart’s content.

I am sated…


It took me a minute to understand what you were doing here. I was thinking you were splitting and then making an annotation and so forth – which would not really solve anything! But I think I see what you are saying, you are putting the annotation in the Notes field, and splitting so that you have a fresh note area for each annotation.

I thought of another workflow that might work good for you, and others that have a hard time with this. Prior to editing your document, simply make a Snapshot of it (Cmd-5). Then proceed to make all of the notes you wish using annotation and highlighting. You now actually have two versions of this document. A messy concept board, and a pristine version tucked away in Snapshots. Now, since you are the type that likes to have your clean version foot forward, simply Show Snapshots, and roll back to the pristine copy. The annotated version is still retained, it is simple the “background” document now. This way you can keep a number of different documents with diverse purposes tucked away behind a single front. Kind of like an application Bundle for writers.

Something that is really neat about the Snapshot chooser is that it is really like a separate viewer. Once it is open, you can return to your regular Scrivener window and edit as you please. So you could open up your annotated copy in the “viewer” expand it out larger, and use it has a reference for your rewrite, while keeping it out of the way. Just delete the contents of the current document in Scrivener (after taking a Snapshot of course), and do your clean rewrite. Using this method, you will have a complete history of the document including its ancillary notation documents , for your own reference.

If that system seems convoluted, there are more basic methods too. Just keeping a collection of documents and editing them in vertical split mode. You could keep the annotated copy on one side, and the fresh version on the other.