Ideas to Fine-Tune Comments, Footnotes, and Annotations in Scrivener

Hi Scrivener Team,

I’d like to share some feedback that could potentially enhance the manuscript revision process within Scrivener, particularly concerning the separation and management of Comments, Footnotes, and Annotations. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Separating Comments and Footnotes: It gets a bit tricky managing both since Comments are for editing and Footnotes are for the final read. Any chance we could have a clearer distinction between them? An improved separation mechanism would significantly enhance usability and streamline the editing process.
  • Annotations Wishlist: Love using Annotations, but could we get a summary list somewhere for quick reference? Despite potential redundancy, the added convenience could facilitate the editing workflow. Also, adding some padding around the cartouche would would improve readability and aesthetics, so they stand out more and we don’t mess up the spacing when we remove them.

Hope these suggestions help and thanks for making Scrivener so we are not stuck with Word :wink:


Re: your second item.

  1. Create a target document (summary list) outside of Draft/Manuscript. Scrivener doesn’t mind where.
  2. Potentially you can use Edit > Append Selection to Document … and work your way to the created document to add whatever you wish. After the first time, the target document will be the first available on offer by the menu.
  3. The convenience is that for each append you get an automatic link back item in the target document as by Document Bookmarks in the Inspector—essentially links back to each source document you appended from.
  4. Further to this, you can add your target document as a Project Bookmark in the Inspector to be available conveniently throughout your project (not just while in the Draft/Manuscript), as long as that type of bookmark has focus. You switch between the two bookmark types (Project or Document Bookmarks) using Ctrl+6 in S3 for Windows.
  5. A practical example is I created a Glossary (target document) which I update on the go while in my WIP. If I need to peek at the result or refer back to something I appended before, I manage it from the target document I appended to.
  6. Appending your annotation or certain unique words in your annotation to your summary list would work the same way—and if you would like, could setup multiple lists (target documents), e.g. a list of your protagonist’s quirks, a list of murders, a list of potential love interests… whatever gets you going.

The distinction between the two is colour.
By default, footnotes have a grey background.
By default, comments have a yellow background, and right-clicking on the selection offers these colour alternatives… and the entire colour spectrum if you customise using More…


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Indeed, the backgrounds for Comments and Footnotes are distinct by default, which visually differentiates them. However, Comments and Footnotes serve semantically different purposes.

Keeping them separate allows for Comments to act as handy margin notes within the Inspector. Probably they have been grouped together as non-main-body text elements, but I believe making a clear distinction would be beneficial.

Currently, I convert Inspector Footnotes to Inline Footnotes and then back again to achieve this separation.

That’s something I should try, thanks!

I have to disagree - having the two together in the Inspector can work very nicely, especially if they are content-linked (as adjacent items are sometimes likely to be). Separation by colour works perfectly. This is for footnotes that are more than bare references of course.

At some point one also has to consider overall interface clutter and complexity. Scrivener is already quite a “busy” application.

I recall seeing an old post where they mentioned wanting to differentiate the two but always postponed the coding.

I agree, the interface is quite busy, and I appreciate any effort to keep it simple.

Perhaps a viable option could be to include a setting in Preferences, such as 'Show Annotations and/or Footnotes in the Inspector instead of displaying them in a pop-up window.

I do like comments and footnotes in one stream because I have to convert them every now and then. When I’m writing I am meticulously keeping all references in footnotes. But depending on the type of text I might have to remove them. (Academic texts demand footnotes, journalistic ones rarely do.)

Of course, I can strip a text in Compile from all comments and footnotes, but sometimes I do want to keep some. So I convert all footnotes that are not supposed to be in the compiled text to comments and only omit them.

And by the way, in the Mac version when converting a Comment to a Footnote, the background turns from yellow to grey (if the defaults have not been changed). But vice versa the Footnote turned Comment stays grey—unless it has been a Comment before.


Hi there,

Thank you for sharing your perspective. It appears you’re using footnotes in a unique way, somewhat as reminders for yourself, which could indeed overlap with what annotations are designed for. Scrivener distinguishes between footnotes and comments/annotations precisely because they serve different editorial and compositional purposes, often reflected in their different functionalities and visual cues.

However, your process raises an interesting point about flexibility and user needs. Perhaps a feature that allows users to filter or categorize notes and footnotes could add value. Imagine having customizable note colors, such as blue for revisions and red for factual verifications, to streamline the editing process without overcrowding the inspector panel. This approach would maintain the functional distinction while enhancing usability for diverse workflows.

FWIW, we already support four independent note streams. (Annotations, comments, inline and inspector footnotes.) Plus document notes. Plus internal links to potentially even more extensive notes. And note colors are already customizable (though not filterable by color).

Again, at some point one has to consider overall usability.


The feature already exists, by combining Styles for colour, Keywords for context and Comments for notes.
Keyword searches can be used to create ad hoc Collections, or permanent Collections if you like.
The drawback is Search result Collections are only sortable within themselves, meaning you can sort the content of each Search result Collection, not 2 or 10 or 12 or whatever number of Search Collections you have.
You can of course do it manually, but Collections are a tiny box in a corner you’d have to drag and drop between items (results) or scroll which is a pain as the list gets longer and longer and longer, even if manually sorted, hence the ad hoc capability of having a search hourglass in the bottom right hand corner when right-clicking on any keyword to invoke a Search Collection based on the specific keyword.
So real life examples for writers to sprinkle through their work might be:

  1. Foreshadowing J’onn J’onzz reversion to a Caucasian Martian.
  2. Market indications that it’s worth investing in Samtimes’ Patreon.
  3. Backstory of Aunty Pittypats Kitti.
  4. Houthi Pirates responsibility in 4 of the 9 undersea Internet cables to Africa being down.
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Scrivener indeed offers a comprehensive suite of note management features, catering to a wide range of needs.

My suggestion aims to refine the visual management of notes, inspired by the simplicity and immediate utility of adhesive page markers. By differentiating Inspector Annotations from Footnotes, we effectively create visual “flags” that extend from the “pages”, significantly improving navigability and the review process, making it easier to act upon notes.

I love Collections and Search Collections! They are one of the best features in Scrivener. I ported my old Word Documents to Scrivener just to use this feature.

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