Keywords vs Custom Metadata

OK, so I’ve been using Scrivener for a while and I had a lot of things figured out after the tutorial and have figured out more with use, but I was always getting Keywords and Metadata confused. I mean, I knew they looked different in the information panel, but how did they act differently?

Today, with the manual and poking around, I think I’ve figured it out.

Meta data is handy for searching for a specific thing. For instance, if you have a subplot that you want to track (to make sure you’ve covered all points and tied up all loose ends), just think of a name for that subplot (e.g., ‘origin of smoking man’) and use that name as a keyword for all the scenes connected with that subplot. Or if you use multiple 1st person POVs for different scenes or chapters, you can use the keyword of the character’s name + POV (e.g., ‘Scully POV’), then search for that to make sure that the voice and timeline are consistent, etc.

Custom metadata is not as easily searchable, since it searches all the metadata fields at once. But it is really nice as a way to consistently track important aspects of a scene or chapter (such as characters, purpose of scene, or time of day) that you want to be visible at a glance and you want some sort of reminder to make a note of it.

Both of these can use Scrivener links (like, you can drag places or characters over to the keyword or custom metadata fields to add them), but some notes on this:

  1. when you link, it doesn’t just link the title of the item, it links a minimum of the first line or the entirety of the content. So if you use that for a keyword, it will make it harder to search.
  2. if your place or character document ONLY consists of a picture, it won’t link because it can only link text.
  3. the link is not the same as an in-document link in that it won’t take you to the document you dragged into the field.

A fundamental difference between a keyword tag and a metadata field is that the latter is a field. Keywording tags a document using a fixed (albeit custom) classification scheme. With metadata fields you set up a /kind of info/ you want to track, but what goes in the field need not fit any fixed classification scheme at all.

Yes, thank you for catching that. I meant to put that in my tip, but I got distracted… :stuck_out_tongue: