How do you use "Project Notes"?

(I’m not sure whether I post this in the right place or not. Feel free to move it.)

I’m still in my honeymoon with Scrivener, discovering capabilities I didn’t even imagine to search for. Yesterday, I discovered that you can switch between “Document Notes” (which stay with the current item in the editor) and “Project Notes” (which are always the same) in the Inspector pane. Great!

I’d like to know how others use this feature. I’ve put my overall description of the project in, more or less the fundamental idea of the book (“boy meets girl etc.”) - but then? What is the idea behind it?

Good question, AndreasE. Like you, when I started writing my new book I jotted down the Grand Idea in Project Notes when I happened to stumble across it.

And then I forgot it existed until your post reminded me.

Hmmm. There must be a better way… And BTW, do you know where I’ve left my keys?


I honestly don’t use project notes yet. It was something that did not exist for ages, rather clever use of the Binder being encouraged instead. I have grown quite fond of the idea of placing global notes in separate documents. That way, they can be linked to and loaded in splits. Despite that, the need for some place to throw quick things down, spur of the moment ideas and such, is useful–and for that, scratch pad is perfect. It even lets me funnel these fragments into the appropriate documents later. If I kept a global notes in the Project Notes pane, I would not be able to funnel things into it, because it is not a part of the Binder.

What I really wish could have been would be a place to persistently attach any document in the Binder. You could have your global notes document somewhere that is integrated with the rest of the application, capable of having meta-data, references, links to it, and so on–and attached it to the Inspector for quick reference, capable of fulfilling the role of a “third notepad.”

You’ve put your finger on it, Amber. Because Project Notes aren’t part of the Binder they get forgotten (like my keys). I need to get into the habit of having the Scratchpad to hand, especially for when I’m doing something else and have a bright idea about The Book.

The thing about Scrivener is that it is crammed full of useful features and each of us has to find the ones that fit our personal method of working – and we won’t end up using everything that’s available. We need to try stuff out and see what sticks.

But Scrivener’s the best software I’ve ever used, and I started work on a machine the size of a house, pre-DOS, back in the late 80s.


I’d even be happy if the global note document was a special binder item in the Notes folder or something, rather than something you could select. The the global notes pane in Inspector would just be a window into that special file whenever you wanted it. It would stay useful for the people that like a single global notes thing in the Inspector, and it would be useful to those of us who would like it integrated with the Binder. I’d use it all of the time.

Whilst it’s a nice idea, there are issues. The main editor uses a very customised text view that can do all sorts of things such as image resizing, annotations, footnotes and so forth, whereas the notes pane has none of these things - it is not nearly so customised (and nor should it be able to show annotations or footnotes - annotations on notes!). Thus, if you had a global notes document in the binder that could be shown in the inspector, in the inspector it would lose all of its annotations and footnotes. Not good. And even if the global notes document had such things stripped upon being assigned as the noes document (with an appropriate warning), it would still be a nightmare checking to see if the current document is the notes document and thus whether things like annotations and footnotes should be allowed (and in the OS X enabling system, it is the editor itself that would need to be aware of such things rather than the application).

It is a nice idea, though. The global notes document could even have a special little notepad icon… But then, what happens when it gets deleted? Eek. Head is going to explode.


I use the project notes to store things related to the project at large. Logical, right? For instance, I’m doing research and making ongoing notes that relate to the project as a whole. I use the project notes for that so they are available across documents. For fiction, I also make project notes, character notes, whatever. Either I’m developing an idea or a character or I want to have what I’ve already thought through ready-at-hand. For instance, to maintain consistency across the work concerning some character or place details, whatever. There are tons of uses for project notes and these are some of the ways I use the feature.

I’m sure others have a different system, but I like having these kinds of meta-notes available quickly via the inspector.


Regarding Scrivener, I am just a beginner. I purchased my licence two weeks ago and I am still working on my first short story that will be written with it. So, my question was not intended to cause any re-programming, I was just curious how others use a special feature (one of the many Scrivener provides).

Surely noone will use every feature of this software, because everybody works in its own special way. The nice thing about the project notes is that they stay out of sight if you don’t use them. In other programs, there are entry fields that stare at you, saying “fill me!”… and that can be annoying! :slight_smile:

Yes, logical. The funny thing is that I’ve changed my own usage of this field soon after I started on the development of my next novel (Scrivener Project #2…). I started with a description of the general idea in Project Notes. Then I created four folders in corkboard view, representing the four acts of the story, made them big and started to jot down the main points that have to happen there.

And soon I felt the urge to note some thoughts, questions and “don’t forget”-items that concerned the overall story. (“This and this should play a role in the end”, things like that.) I put my general idea in a separate document in the binder, cleared the Project Notes and started using this space for this notes - “project notes”, exactly as it’s named.

Ah, I see. In the moment, I have a folder on top-level, coming before “draft”, named “concept”, where I collect documents to develop characters, settings, the backstory and so on.

Yes, so do I. Although I love the split editor feature, I am glad I can have a small reminder field by the side, a third one.

I guess for me - although because of work on 1.04 I haven’t had time to put this into practice in my own novel yet - the way I would do things is I would have a separate document above the Draft folder that is used for extensive notes on the project as a whole, so that I could open it up in split screen whenever I needed and print it off as a main document and make notes on it and so forth. (This part I have done in my project.) Then I’d use project notes for jotting down continuity points, or things that I might need to remind myself about. More of a reminders pad than a extensive notes about the project as such…


That is precisely the direction I was thinking of taking with it, less about plot description and such, and more along the lines of reminders; todo list; retrospective changes, and so on. The scratch pad is designed to be transitory. Things fly in and out of it, so you wouldn’t want to keep things like that there, and you don’t really need meta-data for a todo list. It’s perfect for that.

Somehow I did not read the thread thoroughly, and my comment may perfectly beside what was intended: Those who complain about not having the notes in the binder, do you use the “Destination” in the scratch pad? This creates binder notes, very helpful when the scratch pad is crowded and global ideas have to be sorted. Aaa, the scratch pad, is that project notes?

Maria :blush:

Yes, I do to. I use the project notes just to hold the facts and plot lines, character bio info, etc., that I need to remember as I’m writing. Like you, I need more room to do the actual development of these things. Like Keith, it’s more things I need to remember or refer to as I go.

Also, I do use project notes to develop an idea, but at some point I transfer whatever I’m developing into it’s own documents or set of documents for further development.

If I need BOTH, a place to keep things I need to refer to AND a place to develop ideas, I can always use the scratch pad for the latter. Both are very handy to have!

Just last night, I used project notes for the first time, to make a quick, very basic outline that would hang out on the right, while I made a bunch of folders and dragged documents into them on the left.

Since it pops into place whenever I click on the Draft folder and have the inspector open, I’m leaving it there for the time being, since I can make changes to this basic outline and let it stew. If I decide I like the changes, I can then edit the Scrivenings in the binder to match it.

It works as an outliner because you can tab subtopics to indent under main topics, so it looks accessible and easy to reference. After all, anything more complicated should go in the binder.

I’ve always found the concept appealing, but hadn’t had a reason to try them until now. Even if all you write in in it is “Don’t lift it off the chair until you have xx number of words!” or something like that to start off a writing session.

I use it for two things:

  • making the “pitch” always accessible
  • having a list of unresolved problems

I think this is the best place to put both of them, to always have (if wanted) a clear view of the goal and ungoing issues.


I use Project Notes to hold a 250ish-word summary of the overall plot of my would-be novel. I find I can get a bit bogged down in the cogs and wheels of individual scenes or storylines, and often forget where the story is ultimately meant to end up. Having the summary in Project Notes means I can check up on myself every now and then, and make sure I’ve not wandered off somewhere possibly interesting but definitely irrelevant.

Having said that, I have just done a major rewrite of my Project Notes entry, because my writing took an odd turn and I prefer the result of that to what I had originally planned. But having Project Notes was great, because I knew exactly where to find the “vision”, and the exercise of rewriting it really helped in clarifying what was different about my revised approach.

I’m now using Project Notes as a synopsis, to be exported as part of an outline.

Of course, this means I’m using synopsis for something else, but it works for me.

The toe tingling part of this is that it marks the first time I have a shot at an outline (for marketing) and the actual book that will wind up at the same place at the end without additional editing. It is now simple to update that part of Scrivener, and export only the parts I need.

In fact, that’s so cool I must say it again… export only the parts I need.

I’m now using Project Notes as a synopsis, to be exported as part of an outline.

Of course, this means I’m using synopsis for something else, but it works for me.

The toe tingling part of this is that it marks the first time I have a shot at an outline (for marketing) and the actual book that will wind up at the same place at the end without additional editing. It is now simple to update that part of Scrivener, and export only the parts I need.

In fact, that’s so cool I must say it again… export only the parts I need.

I’m new to Scrivener too, but discovered a use for the Project notes as opposed to the Text notes.

I use it to insert external links, in its reference field, to other programs and to websites that are relevant to the whole project. I’m using Scrivener for science writing and put links here to my Endnote reference database for the entire article and to Excel spreadsheets that hold the data. In split screen mode, with the Project Notes up in one editor, I can quickly get to these files, no matter which section of the manuscript I’m working on. File types that are supported by Scrivener, like PDFs or JPEGs, I place in the References folder. All others not supported go into the project notes as links.

Too many “notes” features, including notes for the notes. My post referred to what I thought of as the project notes, but is really the “Notes Folder”. I just found the Project Notes–no idea yet what to do with that!

Still a good use for the “Notes Folder” --and you can add notes to your notes!

And notes to those notes too… ad nauseam, or rather ad noteseam. :wink:

Boston huh? That’s only an hour or so flying from Portland. Methinks young Vic’s conspiracy theory may have some substance!