Replicas and Bookmarks (links) within a Document

I have three wishes today:

  1. Awhile ago I think I wrote that I would really love if Scrivener has an option for Replicas for folders and files. DevonThink has such an option which I find really helpful.

  2. I am now wondering if having links within a document is possible. By links I mean the way in which you can link to different parts within the same document via links. Microsoft Word has this option via bookmarks. I use the Scrivener links very often and love this option especially because you can track back where the link came from, but today I am encountering the need to have links that refer to a different section within the same document.

  3. Also automatic filing of new documents will be great for the way I use Scrivener. For example, I frequently create links in a file using [[…]], but then filing them in the right folder (and I have a ton of them) makes the workflow a bit less smooth.

Thank you for reading.

You’re asking for 3 features that already exist: Duplicates, Document Links and using the Dialog box to place links in folders.

hmm, duplicates are not the same as replicas.

I use links that lead me from one file to another. Can you please share the steps for how to create links within a document so that the link leads me to a section in the same document?

At the moment, there is no way to link to a specific spot inside a document. (The least, not in the Windows version.)
But I, myself, so wish there was…
Something in the form of a little target icon ※ (acting like a coda on a music partition sheet), or placeholderish code line <$LinkID01>, or even the looks of an inline annotation but of a different color [ ← although having it be inline-annotation-ish would be less user friendly if you ever wanted to move it elsewhere within the document] that would not be part of the visual output at compile, but to which the link(s) in the other document(s) would point.
(Of course, such a link in the “from” document(s) would have to be ignorable at compile too. Not something you want to be visible on a printed version of the draft. Unless perhaps it is still a work in progress.)

In this scenario, having a document linking to a specific spot inside another document, the link would open the second document just as a link currently does, but also trigger the likes of the Edit / Find / Find... function, locating <$LinkID01> or <$LinkID02> within the target document.

The proper method at the moment is to split the document into smaller documents, thus isolating the link’s target section from the whole. But that is not as convenient. And could be problematic if one wishes to link to a spot within a long paragraph, for e.g. .

I am a novelist ; I don’t have a use for such a function the same way someone who, lets say, is working on the owner’s manual of a car, but when locating plot issues in a novel, it’d be quite useful to be able to drop a target/link when I feel there might be a problem somewhere, rather than having to take notes, and find the “where” over and over again across a few chapters.

My two cents.

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So, what are replicas?

Replicas are files or a folders that reside in two different places and changes made in one file or folder are also reflected in the other.

Im a duplicate, the changes made in one file is not reflected in the other.

Look up <$include>.

Sorry. No can do. Workaround is to break the document into smaller pieces.

Text Links / Bookmarks

Regarding linking to specific bits of text, here is my how-to on that. Much of the technique is already described above by Vincent_Vincent, though. I use this technique rather heavily, and in fact in a way that transcends Scrivener, as a technique that can be employed through multiple pieces of software, or even just within loose files on the disk. It’s one of the reasons I feel this approach is in fact superior to anything provided by features in software.

Replicants

A good way of describing replicas or clones is closer to how Scrivener’s Collection feature works. The item is listed in more than one place at a time, but all of these different references point back to the same exact underlying asset. Some tools embed such clones directly into the outline structure itself, as nodes in the outline, rather than Scrivener’s approach of using separate lists.

The closest Scrivener has to that is purely content based, not outline node based. The <$include> placeholder can inject content from one area of the binder into another. It’s a bit more flexible than node-based cloning, because such injections can be done into larger textual contexts—for example a sentence in a snippet item in your Research folder can be injected into several different footnotes in the main Draft.

The downsides to the approach are:

  • Only text content is cloned. This isn’t a solution for having a full binder item in two or more places at once, with all of the support you get for it (representation on the corkboard, etc.)
  • The cloning is a single-direction operation, you can’t see and edit the text in place, but need to click through to the included content to edit it. It’s also a bit “blind” from the perspective where the placeholder is used, to the point that I sometimes use inline annotations to describe what will be injected there. That avoids having to click through links to see what’s going on.
  • A secondary implication of the above is that such text cloning isn’t “all are one” in the sense that replicants are, where in that system you can delete any of the clones. They are all equal, and nothing is lost until the last instance is deleted. In Scrivener’s case, the core binder item all Collections point to, or all <$include> text points to, is the one single master copy. Delete that, and all of the clones are lost or broken. This can mean record-keeping is necessary so you know what not to delete. I use a Keyword, “Master Copy” for items that other items make use of with <$include>—but do note that if you make a habit of checking back-references in the Bookmarks pane, you do get a free back-ref when creating the link to the master copy, from the item that linked to it.

So it’s a pretty good approach, particularly in that it lets you insert text around other text, even into other paragraphs, which is quite rare to find in other software—but there definitely are areas of this we could improve! Other editors and outliners have outpaced Scrivener in this regard; offering similar capabilities but with a more transparent interface.

Auto-Filing

As you note, there isn’t anything automatic for that as a feature, however I would contend that such a system already for the most part exists.

For one thing, there is a point that could be made for using search collections for this instead of folders. More generally file stuff into larger archive folders, and handle the organisation with collections, that update automatically based on the state of the items you file.

Collections can also be used as filing helpers though. While not automatic, consider that selecting the entirety of a collection result list and using Documents ▸ Move To essentially accomplishes what you want, if you do find having folders is still important to keeping a handle on data, and collections aren’t enough by themselves.

For [[ … ]] style links, I tend to make use of one single “Inbox” style folder somewhere in the binder, so that I can get back to writing as quickly as possible. Creating a link is usually just a matter of hitting the Return key as soon as that dialogue pops up. I defer filing for later, using automation where it helps. Outliner sorting, outliner filtering, collections—all tools that can be used to make item selection and bulk filing simpler.

Arguably, any dedicated feature that did this somehow for you would have to be just as complex as these tools anyway, to be worth creating it.

Is there a way to have a document appear in more than one folder? I’m doing some worldbuilding and I’d like to be able to have a “Characters” folder but also have the characters appear in the folders for the factions they are in. I don’t want to duplicate the documents and put them in each folder because I’d like any changes I make to one instance to apply to all of them, if that makes sense. Is this something I’m able to do?

Try document links. Put file name in another file and highlight then create link or put in document bookmarks which are tied to that local file. Then in file>options>behaviors and can set how a bookmark you click opens. Mine is set to open as a quick reference panel.

I’ve merged this with an existing discussion on the topic. Refer to this post above, within the section on “Replicants”.

In your particular case though (as this doesn’t sound like something you would ever compile) I would consider that each item in the binder already has a place to store “child items” that aren’t actually in the outline, but are otherwise as effective as if they were: in the Document Bookmarks list.

Listing characters involved with a faction in that faction’s bookmark list is probably how I would approach this problem anyway, because when you create bookmarks you also get a “back-link bookmark”—i.e. from the character’s outline item the faction they relate to will pop up in its list. So you can build this kind of relational network the more linking you do. In time you may find you leave the inspector open to that tab more and more, as it will become a valuable way of seeing what influences each thing you are working on has. And once you start writing, bookmarking integral components of a scene will mean from those components you will get a list of all the scenes they relate to.

So overall this is why I would prefer to use bookmarks rather than a form of outline referencing or duplication, because to me this kind of information works better in a hub than scattered around independently by top-down categories.

You can read more about where document bookmarks are managed and how to use them in the user manual PDF, in the chapter on the Inspector, §13.4, Bookmarks Tab. For the basic overview and a bit more information on the cousin to this feature (project-wide bookmarks), see §10.3, Project and Document Bookmarks.

That sounds great, thanks Amber!

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How could one add / embed the content of a doc (instaed of the link to it) in another doc or folder or more without copying the content? So the text / content could be edited in all of the documents being visible and would be adapted to the edited text / content automatically.

Search for <$INCLUDE> in this forum…