I’m in my first couple months of using Scrivener and it’s definitely a Godsend for organising an unwieldy pile of material, for shaping it into content. I also have some notes in the separate Project Notes tool but I’m not really sure what’s the ideal usage of this feature.
I know that Scrivener’s virtue is its flexibility and the Project Notes can be used however I wish. But I’d be interested to learn the purposes for which it was designed and also the different ways you all use it.
I use it as a list of reminders what still has to happen somewhere (but I don’t know yet where) in the rest of the novel and of reminders what I must change in the part I’ve already written but don’t want to do in the moment in order not to interrupt my flow (lengthy changes, for example, which demand profound rethinking of things).
Speaking strictly for its design purpose: it rests somewhere in between the Scratch Pad and document notes. It’s stuff that you want quick access to from anywhere in the project—but doesn’t really belong with anything in particular. You can use regular documents for these kinds of notes, but that is a little less convenient, because you can switch to project notes at any time with Cmd-6 and it doesn’t take up a split in order to reference it. So any material that is potentially frequently used, but not related to one part of your project.
In practical usage: I use it for reminders as well. If I think of something that needs to be written, but am not sure of where to put it yet, then PN makes a great place to put it. I usually have one tab just for ToDos like this. I have less use of it as an “unknown location” notes container because I tend more toward the pre-existing outliner style of writing. I usually know what needs to be written, and so already have a place to put most everything down in document notes. Sometimes I’ll keep a tab as an “extended clipboard” if I snip something from one document because it doesn’t quite fit in there, and I’m not sure where to put it yet, I’ll cut and paste it to this tab so if I can ever used it in the future I know where it is.
Aside from what has been already mentioned, I find Project Notes useful for collecting specific bits of material from different docs. Because I might need only a three-line snippet or a statistic from each doc, I don’t need to see them whole. So I don’t create a Collection or Compile them into one Scrivenings view. Instead, I create a new Project Note and run through 5 or 10 or 20 docs, scooping up bits and pieces and putting them in the note. I can then drop these where I want them in a draft, or copy-paste them into their own doc. If I am especially concerned about avoiding confusion about what came from which, I select a few words in each excerpt and Scrivener-link them back to the source doc. (Unless I have a zillion quite similar docs, though, it’s often easier to just project search an exact phrase to find the source.)
I also use project notes to collect questions that occur to me as I read different docs. Preparing for an interview, I read a lot of material by and about someone, and put all my reactions and queries into a single note. I find this less distracting than creating a new doc, because in this mode I am using the Editor to read, not write. On a first pass, that’s a guide to my own perplexities and reactions; later, it can be the list of interview questions I’ll put to my subject. That is, I guess, a non-fiction version of the “to-do” lists already mentioned.
Finally I have made project notes when I had doubts about my outline but wasn’t yet ready to start moving chunks around. I find it’s helpful when writing to stick with the writing mindset and make a project note like “maybe the order should be 3,5,1”.
All of this is possible because one can have multiple Project Notes. It’s a great feature.
In short, PNs are like a project-specific scratch pad for me. I use the actual scratch pad when I am in other applications or for notes that don’t have a specific project (or apply to more than one).
Good luck with your Scrivenings,
Curious. I have set up several “Sub Project Notes” (whatever you would call them) within the ProjectNotes—in order to capture different kinds of random thoughts. (I.e., one liners for characters; one liners for descriptions; general notes; etc.) Now I’m thinking it’d be nice to copy and paste between them to fine-tune the way I’ve organized them. Is that possible?
It’d mean either some kind of split screen for Project Notes or the ability to make a Quick Reference out of one of the panels. Make sense?
Of course, I can always make a document out of each Sub Project Notes and then compare that way. Or combine two and then divide them again. So it’s not a big deal. But, like I say, I’m curious. Thanks. David.
You can copy and paste text between tabs, there shouldn’t be any restriction there; or cut and paste to move text. I’d say in general though, if you find yourself need to do a comparative analysis between tabs—you probably should be using text documents in the binder! It’s pretty easy to migrate them, just select all, copy, and paste into the binder, then delete the tab.
Thanks, Amber. That’s what I figured. And it’s easy enough to do. So no problem. David
Hmmm … I can’t find Project Notes. Is this a Mac only thing?
Click on the document notes pane in the inspector. You can toggle between document and project notes.