How to organize / what are the best tools for tagging text?

Long I’m a time Scrivner user, thought I haven’t dabbled much in some of the organizational tools (e.g., Keywords, Labels, Metadata, Binder, etc.), so while I’ve got a general familiarity with them I’m not sure which are the best way to go for my current project. I’ve read about them and watched videos, but thought input via the forum would be fruitful. (BTW, I’m still using v. 2.8)

In short, I’m creating a project that consists of a dozen separate interview transcript (i.e., one transcript per person). I’ll soon be importing each transcript as a document in the project. I’d like to share this document with my colleague (which can by a final output), so that she can both see the raw, unfiltered transcripts and documents that are organized by thematic topic, and contain portions of the transcripts that relate to thematic topics. Also, I want to be sure that in copying portions of the transcripts and pasting them in thematic topics, I’m also including the interview subject’s name (which is also contained in the document file name, so that could make it easier).

Based on what I’ve read about Scrivner processes, I was thinking that it would be best to do this with Keywords. Does that sounds like the right approach or is there something better (e.g., with labels and other Metadata)?

What else should I do to ensure that I’m seamlessly including the interview subject’s name while copying portions of the transcripts and pasting them in thematic topics? Is there a way to create hyperlinks between these passages so that my colleague can refer back to the original text? And what’s the best exportable format for sharing such documents?


I would recommend using keywords. That lets you tag each chunk with both the subject’s name and the theme. Keywords are also the most flexible, because you can have more than one keyword per document.

If it were me, rather than cutting and pasting I would use the Document -> Split functions. When you split a document, the new document inherits both the keywords and the name of the parent, which obviously helps keep the metadata straight.

If you also want to keep the original transcript intact, you can make a duplicate copy, split it up, and then use internal links (Scrivener Links) to link from the appropriate point in the original to each individual chunk. While Scrivener 2, won’t automatically create back-links from the destination back to the source, Scrivener 3 can.

The best format for sharing all of this information would be a Scrivener project. If that’s not possible, any format that supports hyperlinks should work.


Thanks so much for your helpful reply!

Ok, I’ll set up Keywords. That’s very helpful. Just want to be sure I follow the rest of what you’re suggesting… I often use split, to create discrete sections of notes. So, you’re suggesting that I create links to those discrete “split” notes – i.e., parts of the transcripts that I’ve divided into topic bits – and then tagged with keyword - defined topics, correct? And then I’d Copy Document Link of those split sections – is that right?

I won’t be able to share it as a Scrivner project. Is there a document type that might be the most presentable and provide the most sure fire way to get these links to work (i.e. from a Mac to PC platform)?

Thanks again!

Yes, that’s correct.

What format does your colleague prefer? Word should definitely work and is probably the easiest. PDF is designed for working crossplatform, but isn’t as easy to edit.


So, I’m in the midst of doing this now, and was wondering… In the past, when I’ve made splits, I change the name of the document to reflect the topic. But you’re suggesting that I just change the keyword, is that right? Is there some way you envisaged naming conventions for the split documents, so that they’re quick to make and easy to refer to (i.e., containing the name of the interview subject)? Or did you have another approach in mind?


Sorry…one other question to tack on here… If I understand that process you’re suggesting, would you advise me to create a binder that’s specific to each keyword – as a way of grouping them in discrete containers? Or would you suggest another approach?


It’s your research not mine, so I hesitate to be too prescriptive about how to handle it.

There’s no need to make a folder based on a keyword, because the whole point of using keywords is that the search function can collect relevant documents whenever you like. But you certainly can if you find it convenient for other reasons.

Remember that the name of the interview subject can be a keyword, too. So you can name the individual sub-documents by topic, by subject, both (Smith2019-widget wrangling), or neither (Best Interview Ever!). Or don’t even name them at all. Scrivener doesn’t care.


I’d look at this thread -

and consider dedicated QDA software if your budget allows it.

Thanks… Actually, I meant to refer to setting up Collections (instead of Binders) per Keywords. That seems like the approach you were basically suggesting, correct? I’ve set it up, and it seems to be working fine. It seems like I just need to be careful not to create too many Keywords, since it could gradually create a cluttered number of Collections…unless there was a another approach you had in mind – and please don’t worry about being to prescriptive! I’m just trying to find the best solution w/o being too perfectionist…

Let me back up and explain what I’ve done before asking some quick following questions…

(1) I’ve put the each interview in its own folder, split it at the points where I’m create a discrete quote, and then dragging Keywords that apply to that selection (I find that this is better than leaving Keywords in the sidebar window, as some can erroneous carryover);

(2) As part of this process, I’m selecting text and then creating splits as a way to capture the exact text I want for quotable material and Keywords. I’m not naming the split documents – I’m just letting them accumulate in the folder;

(3) I’ve created Collections per each Keyword through going to the Search->selecting Keywords->inputting the Keywords->Saving as collections;

Here are my quick questions, per process…

(1) Right now I’m just working on one transcript, which is in one folder – as are the spilt documents I’m creating. I’ll be importing additional transcripts, importing them into folders, and following the same process (unless you’d suggest otherwise – which is totally fine!). I’d like to Collections to contain the subject name for the quotes, to keep everything well organized. Could be done by creating a Label per interviewee – which is basically contained in the file name, and inserted as the folder name? Is this one way that such labels could appear within the Collections material? Is so, how would I set that up?

(2) I realize I might be able to do this, but… I’ve been trying to Split selected material, without cut up the original text. To that end, I’ve use selections holding down the Shift key, but the splits still appear as contagious text? I there some other way to accomplish this or is just the way Split functions?

(3) I’ve been refining and changing some Keywords during my process, and am wondering: What’s the best approach to ensure these changes so that they’re reflected throughout the Keywords set, Keywords-applied text, and Collections.

Again, I’m happy to consider another suggested approach or process.

Thanks again for your help!

You can save a search-based Collection with any name you want. See Section 10.2.4 in the Scrivener 3 manual. You can also apply whatever names, Labels, and Keywords you like to the individual component files.

The Split function, by definition, splits the existing document at the cursor location. That’s why I suggested duplicating the original transcript before you start. For what you describe, the Edit → Append Selection to Document command might be useful, too.

If you edit a Keyword in the Project Keywords pane, the change will be reflected everywhere that Keyword is currently used.


Thanks so much, Katherine… Just to be clear, I’m still using Scrivner 2 – I can’t update to 3 with my current Mac OS & hardware.

I fully understand why you suggested the Spilt function. It’s generally been fine. As I said, I was just trying to find a way to Splits certain text in a non-contagious way (e.g., by selection certain text while holding down the Shift key, and then clicking Split). Obviously that didn’t work; it just Spilt contiguous text. I was just wondering if there’s another way to accomplish what I’m seeking to do.

I looked into (and even tried…but failed) Edit → Append Selection to Document command. I’ve looked through the manual, and don’t quite understand what it does, and how it might be useful in this regard.

I’ve raised in a previous post (so please forgive the redundancy)…

Right now, I’ve just been making text Splits and applying Keyword-marked text selections for one interview. But I’d like to import additional interviews with different people. So…how would you suggest that “mark” or “label” (in the broad sense – not necessarily using those tools!) Keyword-marked text selections so that they contain the subject’s name? I just want to ensure that my colleagues and I know who’s speaking in Keyword-organizated text passages. What approach would you suggest?

Thanks again!

All the features I described exist in Scrivener 2 as well. Collections specifically are discussed in Section 7.4 of the Scrivener 2.9 manual.

With the Append Selection command, I envisioned selecting non-contiguous sections in the source document and then Appending them all into a new document.

You can add a keyword for the subject’s name as well as for the topic. That’s what I was envisioning.


OK, great. Thanks, Katherine…

I’ll try my hand with the Append Selection command for selecting non-contiguous sections in the source document.

What about creating a subjects name within Labels? It just seems like it might lessen any confusion and clutter they have anything topics is key words and names as subjects.

Anyway, if that works, how would I be able to have labels I am – that is, the subjects name it just seems like it might lessen any confusion and clutter by having topics as keywords and names and subjects. Anyway, if that works, how would I be able to have labels – that is, the interview subjects’ names — be inserted into the actually text of a document (i.e., to identify the name of the interview subject, her keyword marked section of text)? Does that make sense?

Thanks so much again…

I guess what I’m asking is if there’s a way to use the Labels for the names of the interview subjects, and have them appear as headers within the text – just as a way of identifying the source name when reading the transcribed material (which I’m sorting by Keywords, as you’ve suggested).

What do you think?

Thanks again…

Have you tried editing your compile format section layout to include metadata?

Thanks for that…I’ll certainly check that out! But what about using Labels to form headers in the Scrivner project before using Compile? After all, it’ll still be a working document with lots of sources and Keywords (topics), so I’d love to maintain some order while I’m still working on it…

Thank you for your helpful suggestion!

Not that I know of. There’s a placeholder <$label>, but like all placeholders, it doesn’t get resolved until compile.

OTOH, if you are editing a document (just click inside its text), its label is always displayed, with colour, at the bottom of the inspector.

It’s also possible to show the Label color in the Binder.


Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions!

So, I thought it might be better to use Keywords for topical subjects and Labels for sources, both because there are many more topical subjects than sources – and it seemed like it would be better to keep these things in separate taxonomies (or tools). However, I’m certainly open to going in a different direction. Does my approach seem best – or is there another, better way of organizing sources v. topical subjects ?

Thanks again for all of your generous help!


How would set up this kind of Keyword organized compile for Scrivner 2.0?