Linking to parts of documents

Really sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, I used the Search the best I could. I would really like to be able to add a link not only to an existing document in the Draft or Research, but to a specific paragraph / page / quotation etc of that document. This would be especially cool for the PDFs in the Research folder, so that I could link from the main text to a quotation in the PDF instead of the whole PDF. Not sure if this “contextual” linking is already possible for the text documents in the Draft, if it is, I don’t know how to do it, but the PDF functionality would really help. Any chance for that? Thanks for this really great app!

This deals with something similar:



Thanks, I have read thet thread, yes, but tagging and linking are not that similar in a workflow. I can see how tagging passages would help me find all the quotes for a certain topic, but linking to a specific page inside a PDF or a paragraph of the document in the Draft would unambiguously take me to that one spot I need. It would be nice if it worked like this: just as you option-drag and drop a document from the binder to the editor to make a hyperlink, you could do the same with selected text from one editor (displaying a PDF, for example) to the other (showing a text from the Draft) in the split pane view. The click would than take you to that page in the PDF.

But I suspect there may be more of a similarity from a technical perspective: i.e. how easy is it for the developer to write code that will identify a particular piece of text in a random file, keep a record of where it is and what it is, and allow that to be accessed from another file or part of the program, and keep track of it even if it gets moved around all over hither and yon. I think we can infer from the discussion on the other thread is that the answer is “not very”. Sente does allow you to link notes that you make in its note editor window to passages in a pdf, but I believe it is a SQL database underneath. Then again, I’m not sure how relevant the latter is to that particular feature. I’m just guessing a bit at what the technical difficulties might be, because they are obviously relevant to whether a feature gets implemented or not.

Cheers, Martin.

Well, I have zero knowledge about programming, so I have no idea how difficult that would be and I understand that the developer is flooded with other requests. I’ll just add two more points to support my request:

  1. I read somewhere that Devonthink has something like this for PDFs, only that the link does not take you directly to the line or the paragraph in question but to the specific page of the PDF. For me at least, that’s good enough: to be able to link to page 154 of the PDF in the Research folder. The quotation I’m looking for is probably highlighted there so I’d find it quickly.
  2. The second thing I’d like to add is that, for academic writing purposes, the Research folder full of e-books and articles, sometimes very long, isn’t very useful if I can’t find the chapter / line / argumet / figure in question with a single click. It isn’t better than having a desk full of books in hard copy with underlined quotes and post-its.
    Or I don’t know, maybe there is some sort of simple workaround I’m unaware of…

I know. Isn’t it awful when you have to click two or even three times to find something? I say, back to desk and hard copy and post-its. Physical exercise itself can be therapeutic.


I work in academia as well, and, like various other people who haunt these forums, I use a mixture of applications. I write in Scrivener, I now use Sente as my bibliographic database (used to use Bookends, but the latest version of Sente is now much better, I feel), and Devonthink Pro Office is my general research “repository”.

You can certainly link to a page of a pdf in Devonthink. However, the latest version of Sente allows you to make notes or extract quotations from pdfs that are linked to the precise place in the pdf. I’d recommend downloading the trial. There are also handy scripts available that make it possible to exchange information between Sente, Devonthink, and Scrivener. We are edging closer to an integrated research and writing environment, though we are quite there yet.

Cheers, Martin.

PS: I think Devonthink also uses an underlying SQL database. I take it that one of the reasons why it can find a page in a pdf is that it reads and indexes the whole text of any file that is put into it. As far as I know, Scrivener can’t do that. (Though come to think of it, Sente doesn’t do that either, yet it can create linked notes. Hmm – not sure about that.)

Funny, I’m using the exact same setup for my Research, DevonThink for my database, Sente for my Papers(although I am relying on it less these days in favor of DT). I have scrivener, but typically prefer Mellel or LaTeX for writing longer papers(though I organize my thoughts in Scrivener).

There are a few outstanding problems in my workflow that need to be addressed somehow by technology. First, Sente does not allow for searching within PDFs. I have though tried all(or most) of the bibliography managers and settled on Sente, but this is an amazingly weak point in the software. Mendeley is my second choice and does allow one to search the PDFs or just the highlights and notes. I use Sente in favor of Mendeley because of a better iPad app and the integrated web browser that allows me to quickly add new references, but my research is rather winding down these days after dropping out of my PhD program for a research gig in neuroradiology.

DevonThink does also not allow you to search within the annotation layer of a PDF. Ideally I would be using Skim to annotate PDFs and be able to search through them in DTPO, but it isn’t there yet. When it is, I will be quite satisfied and find my workflow nearly complete.

I do not store research literature in Scrivener, I think it is unnecessary and counterproductive when DT does it so much better.

Edit: I wanted comment on a technique expounded by Bill DeVille before DTPO added linking to particular pages of a PDF. He copied key phrases out of the PDF as lookup terms and when he needed to find the precise location in the PDF he would just search for them.