Inline Footnote question

So, I love the scrivener workspace, but I have one major problem, which is the use of inline footnotes. I know that one can lower their opacity but if one is working on an academic book for the humanities, these notes are always of a certain length and necessarily break up one’s efforts to read the text cleanly. I realize I can export the file into word and edit it there, but one of the pleasures of scrivener is the ease of moving bits of text around. Is there some way to make text marked as footnote or annotation appear elsewhere in the page, as an internal link or something. Has anyone found a work-around solution. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. thanks.

The best solution, although it inhibits read+edit ability is to compile it out with all notation exporting turned off. Or, if you just want to review one section, you can use the special Copy command which copies everything except for notations from the Edit menu, and then paste into a temporary area. Naturally, you wouldn’t want to edit these proofing copies or you would lose your notes. Rather load it in the second split and follow along side by side. With everything turned off, and using it as a proof copy rather than an edit copy, there is no need to load it up in anything other than Scrivener.

There is no way to move footnotes (or have endnotes etc.) at the moment.

The only thing you could do, I guess, might be to just collect all of your footnotes into another file (or have a separate file for each footnote) and insert them properly at the end. You could use document references to link the footnotes to their original document, maybe?

I make these suggestions without having used footnotes for anything. So maybe someone who does use them might have a better answer.



I agree with TristramShandy that inline notes become a nuisance in academic writing, and I don’t want to export the text to Word (I want to work in Scrivener!).

Something that helps a bit is to use the Ghost notes mode. If you do so and turn the opacity to lowest, footnotes disappear, leaving white space where they used to be. Well, where they are, for as soon as you click on the blank space they show up again.

I think this is a workaround that helps a bit, but it’s no good solution in the long run. I don’t know if it would be too hard to implement “collapsing” inline footnotes, if “real” footnotes are out of scope. Instead of fading into Ghost Note mode, they could just collapse into a small placeholder that when clicked would show the full note. Think of Excel’s cell notes, for example.

This is a feature request, isn’t it?


Manuel Aguilar Hendrickson

Keith spent a long time looking at this and trying to get it to work. There is a fair amount on it in one of the threads in the Development Forum, I believe. Not even the Apple engineers could come up with a way of achieving it, so unless he has an epiphanic moment, the chances of collapsing notes coming to Scrivener is zero.

It should be borne in mind that just because Word/Excel, or even Mellel can do something does not mean that it is do-able in Scrivener. Word/Excel and Mellel use their own proprietary text engines; Scrivener doesn’t, it is based on Apple’s text engine, the same one as drives TextEdit, Yojimbo, Swift Publisher, Nisus and a whole host of other applications.

Scrivener was developed for writing novels, but it has proved such a great piece of software design that it has been taken on as a great tool for writers of many kinds: script-writers of films, stage-plays, radio-dramas, cartoons; journalists; academics; … I use it in the area of translation. And Keith has extended it in many ways to help in those fields. But it will never be able to do everything and be everything to everyone. Attempting to do that is the way that Word 5.1 for Mac ended up as the application everyone here wants to get away from!


I remember that a somewhat similar request came up for annotations in Scrivener, and Keith declined to implement such a placeholder system because it was the signature feature of Jer’s Novel Writer, and he didn’t want to snag it. A noble gesture of support for a fellow indy developer, that, and highly unusual in the software biz. I used Jer’s before switching to Scrivener, and while I admire the app and the developer, I do wish Scriv would adopt that feature.

Thanks for the answers. Sometimes it’s difficult to find out if something’s been discussed previously, since the forum is really huge (which I great!). I try to search before I post, but sometimes I just don’t find it.

One thing I fully understand (and I fully agree with) is that Scrivener cannot and should not become a jack of all trades. I appreciate very much Keiths’s “stubbornness” in focusing on what he wants Scrivener to be, not only because he has the right to do so, but also because I think that’s the right way to go. I wouldn’t like Scrivener to become a sort of Word/Mellel/Indesign/Framemaker with a Devonthink-like research repository and an integrated Bookends/Sente/Papers reference manager! Of course if there is such a thing and it has an AppleScript that writes the papers for me, please let me know! :wink:

I think smaller, better conceived apps that play well together is the way to go. Scrivener is great for writing (novels and a lot of other stuff) not for page layout or typesetting, which should be left to other apps. Remember the times when those things were done by different people from different trades?

I’d just say that getting footnotes out of sight (at least out of the text flow) would be of great help for writing (anything that uses footnotes). Ghost Notes is a partial solution that has helped me a lot (I must confess a few days ago I was on the verge of exporting everything to Word and continue working there to get rid of the clutter!). If any better solution becomes feasible (collapsing footnotes, side footnotes, show/hide footnotes or whatever) it would be great. In the meantime I’ll use Ghost notes.

Since you’ve raised the issue of Apple’s text engine, one thing I don’t quite understand is how can Nisus export into rtf “real” outline headings that Word understands as such and other apps using the same engine cannot. Maybe they could be pulled out of the folder names in the outline. This is something a few users would certainly use (I’ve seen posts on the subject) and the answer has been that Apple’s text engine doesn’t allow that. Does Nisus “hack” it in some way?

Best regards

Manuel Aguilar Hendrickson

Simple answer … Nisus have hacked Apple’s text engine very considerably in many ways and are continuing to do so, but there are still issues raised by users as to missing features or features that don’t work the way that particular user wants. That’s normal. But Nisus are also a team who are working on NWE/NWPro, some of whom at least were involved in the programming of the original Nisus Writer (Classic). Keith acknowledges their help over aspects of Scrivener in a number of threads, but there is a limit to how much he can ask and how much they should or could give.


I handle footnotes/endnotes by putting them in separate documents until I’m ready to compile the draft. I put a placeholder reference (Gregg03) in the body text, and use that as the name of the note file.