How to use keywords?


I read another post in which AmberV talked very enthusiastically about keywords, and it made me think that I might be missing something. I am relatively new to Scrivener and I am just not sure how to use keywords. To be honest, I have found the search function to be excellent and, if I need to keep any metadata about a section, I throw it into notes. For example, I just did a search for ‘orphan’ this morning, to see if I mentioned that one of my characters might be an orphan and bam there it was highlighted in the notes beside the character profile I had written.

So I thought I would ask: how do you use keywords? Am I missing something? Is it just a preference thing?


PS: Not sure where to put this post in the forum …

Its like a kind of glossary you can search for instances of …

Just go INSPECTOR > down the bottom there is a bar with the word META DATA (COMMAND 3) OR it could be on the drop down menu showing SUPPORTING MATERIALS (Command 4). They are both there.

Choose META DATA > the little spoked wheel symbol OR the + symbol > Add new Keyword. Type in the word or phrase you want to use and there it is for the entire draft, entered once, but able to search the entire text.

To Search, the easiest way is to go the HUD. Again the little spoked wheel then SHOW KEYWORD HUD. click on the word and the Search button will appear. Explore the HUD. It has a few neat tricks that will please you.

I hope Keith and AmberV will provide even better advice and then we can put this in the Tips and Tricks after b3 has been released. It’s a good one. Thanks mcnicks.

In STEP 6 of Keith’s Tutorial that comes bundled with the dmg of Scrivener he says:


On top of Label and Status, you can also assign arbitrary keywords to your documents (perhaps a theme, or a place that occurs, or all of the characters who appear in the document). You can add keywords by clicking on the “+â€

For practical usage, keywords are great when you need to express some form of information about a document that might not otherwise appear in the document. An example of this might be a section of narrative that discusses a character, but never actually mentions that character by name. Throw in the character’s keyword into the meta-data and you’ll never have to worry about losing the piece.

In the post that you linked to, I was referring to the use of keywords as a way of enhancing workflow. Status and Labels allow you two axis of information for any document, but there are definitely times when a third axis is necessary, and where it must remain independent from the other two axis. A simple example would be: You are using Labels to define document types. You have a green colour assigned to character sheets. The status indicates that this particular character sheet needs to be fleshed out a bit more. Perhaps you just wrote a stub in a blaze of inspiration, and tagged it with “Expand” so that you’d know to come back to it in the future. Enter the third axis, you are taking a small vacation into the country by train, and cannot bring your computer with you. So you want to print out a selection of documents you’ve written so you can work on them with your pen and paper while on the train. You can create a keyword called “Print Me”, and drop it in under “Work Flow” in the Keywords HUD. Assign the “Print Me” keyword to all documents you wish to take with you. Then on the night before you leave, you can do a quick “Print Me” filter search, and independent of the other two axis of information, get a quick list of every document you want printed. No doubt, you can think of many other situations where this might be useful. There are times when you are doing certain types of large scale edits to your book – perhaps doing science checks on all dodgy statements. If you were diligent in marking down every section with scientific declarations, you could filter by “Check Science,” and work down the list. This is the type of thing you wouldn’t want to create a full status for, because very likely it would conflict with other status indications such as “Rough draft.”

Now, the way I work, is using Annotations as I write to mark things down. I’d rather not bother with keywords until my flow of thought is complete. Pressing Cmd-Shift-A, tapping out a quick reminder, and then dropping straight back into the narrative is wonderful for just this sort of quick note to yourself. I have a system of short identifiers that I use. So an annotation on science might look like [SCI : Check to see if it is physically possible to fall from this height without losing consciousness ], and then keep typing. Later, once I’ve completed a batch of writing, I can do a quick regular search for “SCI :” and every document that has been tagged with these types of notes will show up. Select them all in the Binder, open the Keywords HUD, and drop the keyword onto the selected group. I now no longer have to worry about accidentally losing a note in the text itself. Further, if I know I have hundreds of such notes, I also have a modifier code system that I use. I can search for “!SCI :” and that will return everything that I considered to be very important to fix. An “Important” keyword can be added to these – another third axis.

These are all just ideas. There are certainly many more ways that Keywords can be exploited, including much more simple ones. The key thing is that, if you are diligent in using them, they will become a repository of quick information sources that you can trust above regular quick searches.

In the end, it is all a matter of how you work though. Some people will never find a need for a third or even fourth axis of information. Labels and Status will be enough, and regular quick searches will accomplish the rest. They are there if you need them, easily ignored if you never do. And I suspect, given some hints dropped by Keith, they will be even more easily ignored in B3. :slight_smile:

Wow. I was pretty much in the dark about keywords (and the HUD, which I assumed was…something, I guess). Thanks for the heads up ( :slight_smile: ), Amber and Lightning. And good q, mcnicks.

Thanks for the the great hints, Amber, but I’m wondering if I’m missing something here. The quote above gives me the impression that you manage to apply keywords to more than one selected doc at a time; something that would make the job of organizing my kabillion notes MUCH easier. Every time I drag a Key from the HUD it only gets applied to the first selected note. Are you using a different version, a different approach, a better brain overall? Stupefied minds want to know.


Okay, now I am a bit confused. I know that I did this somehow, but you are right. The way I describe it is not working. Give me a minute, heh. :slight_smile:

Hmm… It seems that AmberV can see into the future. :slight_smile: As of beta 3, you can do this, but the currently available beta 2 doesn’t allow this. In beta 3, if you have several documents selected and drop some keywords on one of them, the keyword will be assigned to all of the selected documents. So, wait a few days (or weeks) or so, and this will be true…

Dude! I must have dreamed that I could do this or something. Ha.

Well, my commentary was meant for future revisions of Scriviner. ahem

Keith, this is lovely! I also would love to have this capability. But you are scaring me with the parenthetical reference to weeks! Days, make it days, please. :slight_smile:

Heh, I’m just looking at how long it will take to make MultiMarkdown work. In two weeks’ time I have a week off (half-term), so it won’t be any longer than that. I wanted to get it done by the end of this weekend, but there is no way I can get it done by the end of tomorrow, as I have too much non-Scrivener work to do, too.

What do you mean “non-Scrivener work”? Are you mad, man? The fate of civlization rests on your shoulders, how dare you goof off with other work, supporting a family etc.?

Glad to hear my own dreams of Keyword multi-application goodness (hmmm) will soon(ishly) come true.