Notes to a PDF?

A few questions:

  1. Can Scrivener make notes/highlights on a pdf?
  2. Can Scrivener place a comment note tag on a PDF (to add a comment in the Inspector)

I’m doing a literature review and I’m now working with some imported PDF’s.

I guess my two workaround options (if 1 & 2) can’t be done are

(a) just write the notes on in the Document Notes in Inspector or
(b) create a sub-document for each PDF that I can write in.

Anyone got any suggestions or work-arounds?

Scrivener can highlight (in yellow) text PDFs using the Shift-Cmd-H shortcut. You cannot add linked comments within Scrivener, but you can view those added in Preview or some other PDF software (not all; it will depend on how they’re saved in the PDF). From within Scrivener, it’s easy to open a PDF in an external program via the button in the editor footer, so you can make your annotations there and save, then refresh the editor in Scrivener to see the changes. Clicking on a comment marker in the PDF will show the comment off to the side in the editor, similar to viewing it in Preview. Note that these comments won’t be searchable within Scrivener, so for that you’d want to either place the text or suitable search terms in the document notes in the inspector or in a separate associated document or apply keywords to the PDF.

Ok, great, I’ve got that working.

I’m opening the PDF- making notes/highlights in Adobe Reader and then coming back to Scrivener. Next question

When I open the PDF in “Existing Editor” the Inspector only offers me two options

  1. Project Notes and
  2. Project References

Any way to get these options to be ‘document’ notes so that I can add notes based on my PDF highlighting/notes?


This sounds like you haven’t imported the PDF into the project but are viewing it from an external link. In that case, it doesn’t have any document notes or other meta-data because it’s not actually a part of the project. You’ll need to import the PDF into the binder in order to be able to assign it notes, a synopsis, and other meta-data. Importing as an alias allows you to treat it the same way but rather than importing the file into the project package, it just creates a shortcut to the external PDF and loads that in the editor, like you’re doing loading it from the references, but by importing as an alias you’ll see it as a binder item, with all the associated meta-data options.

Surely at the point marked, you mean “as a binder document”?

Mr X

You made me double-take, but no, I meant what I said. By using File > Import > Research Files as Aliases you can create a binder item similar to a regular import but rather than actually copying that external file into the project package, it creates an alias to the external file. You’ll see it listed in the binder like regularly imported items but with the shortcut icon:ImportAliasIcon.png
So it’s essentially a reference link living in the binder, letting you assign it a synopsis, document notes, and other meta-data. Since the file is not part of the project, deleting the original file that it’s linking to will of course break the link, so although the alias will remain in the binder, it won’t load anything; likewise the file isn’t saved as part of the project, so it won’t be included in project backups or moved with the project if you open it on another machine.

Import as Alias is only available for non-text files and the files can’t be edited at all in Scrivener (which means no adding highlights there), but since this is about PDFs and the OP is marking them up in Adobe anyway, it’s an option that might combine the benefits of importing and referencing without losing anything.

Thanks, MM. My comment was because I found the way it was worded confusing, I’m afraid, and in case the OP found the same confusion, I thought I’d prompt you to clarify further.

It’s the “but” there that got me, as it should be contrasting the following clause with the preceding one, whereas in fact the contrast is with the previous sentence.

But you’re right … my bad! :blush:

Mr X

Mm, “by importing as an alias” is being contrasted with “loading it from the references”, not the previous sentence, which is about using the regular import. I agree it’s not my best prose, though. :slight_smile:

At this point I am determinedly not putting on my hat as a linguist, and am refraining from investigating Larry Trask on the structures in question! :smiling_imp:

Mr X