How to cross-reference text and notes?


I originally posted this in the main Windows support group, but was directed over here since I’m using the Beta instead of the current release. Since I’m just getting started with Scrivener and the release of 3.0 seems imminent, I figured I might as well avoid learning hiccups by starting with the latest and greatest.

My question is about how to capture and organize notes across my Research documents so that I can work with them efficiently in my Draft.

Let’s say I am writing about apples. I have source documents in my Research folder in both Word PDF. Each document has information about apples in different places spread out throughout the document. I want to take each snippet of information from these source documents, add my own comments to it, and then organize these snippets/comments so that I can write my Draft. I also want to be able to go back easily to the original documents and quickly jump to the source snippets so I can see more context around them if necessary.

Can anyone suggest how I might do this? The document/project bookmark functionality and the Research section of the Binder only allow me to refer to whole documents, not to highlight and bookmark individual parts of them.

Thanks to anyone who can help me understand how I might do this (or if it isn’t doable at all in Scrivener).


I too have this problem. I generally solve it by annotating the document with highlighting, popup notes, etc. BEFORE placing it in the Research Folder. Sometimes I need to replace the document by one with further annotations. Longer documents could have a Table of Contents applied for ease of access.
However, this could suggest a future feature request which allows one to add a note when adding a Project or Document bookmark. The note could be the place to say WHY the item was bookmarked and WHAT content in the bookmark is significant.


I have a similar problem of having large numbers of pdfs to refer to for a rather difficult novel.

Searching for a possible solution, I found a program, Qiqqa, which allows you to store pdf files in separate libraries. You can highlight the parts that are important for your book.

I think you can also add a note to the pdf - as “Comments”.

So you can select the relevant library to see the list, and you can also enter a word or phrase to narrow down the list you obtain.

The basic version is free. It is aimed at scholars (which counts me out!) so there are two higher level “add-ons” that add even more functions.

I am not an affiliate, so I’m not trying to “sell”!

Good luck with your work.


Adobe Acrobat allows you to annotate PDFs (not sure if the free version does, but I have an old Professional license that I still use), but it doesn’t have all of these other organizational and cross-document search tools. Very cool – thank you so much for sharing this with me!

It appears as though they are open-sourcing it now, so you might be able to upgrade to the higher-level versions for free!

Advanced treatment of bookmarks as you describe would be huge. I think there’s room to have more powerful functionality even beyond that:

  • Basic: Being able to bookmark segments of text, not just entire documents.
  • Advanced: Bookmarking text segments across different document types (e.g., in the Research folder) would be tremendously valuable.

I don’t know if it’s taboo here to compare to Word functionality, because there’s an enormous amount that Scrivener does that Word can’t even dream of, but Word’s handling of bookmarks is an easy target for emulation.

Others have suggested a path forward with this, but I’ll add my penny’s worth, too.

Import from Word, or just copy from Word, into a new document.
You may want to keep this intact, in which case… make a duplicate.
Drag this duplicate onto the original (in the binder), so it’s now a subdocument. Rename it in some way so you know which one you don’t want to be splitting.
In the subdocument, select a snippet and use Ctrl+K to split the document at the selection. Annotate; move on to the next snippet. This way, you have the whole document and you have annotated snippets. This will let you cross-reference using a bookmark, but because each snippet is now its own document, the issue is (mostly) solved. If you want to read the snippets in order as snippets, you could put them in their own folder, select the folder, and switch to Scrivenings mode.

I agree that the ability to cross-reference to annotations, footnotes, and comments would be a nice feature in Scrivener.