Tag and group individual sentences or paragraphs

I’m writing a non-fiction book, which is based on a lot of research in the form of interviews, articles, web pages etc etc. Most of that research is imported or transcribed into my Scrivener project. I’ve been looking for a way of tagging paragraphs / sentences / passages across many different documents, in such a way that I can then search a particular tag and come up with a ‘compilation’ of all the instances in which that particular topic or theme occurs in the project. There are many instances where I have single document, an interview let’s say, with many different topics or themes that are mentioned within in it. The document may be many thousands of words long. So document level Keywords don’t really suit my purpose.

I’ve tried using comments and inline annotations. They’re fine as far they go, but they don’t really go far enough. Let’s say I need to isolate the passages across all my research that deal with the topic of ‘drought’. If I create comments whenever the topic occurs, and include the word ‘drought’ in the comment box, I can then go Edit > Find > Find By Formatting and choose ‘Comments & Footnotes’ containing text ‘drought’. But then I have to click ‘Next’ to go to each occurrence of the word ‘drought’ in a comment, and if I have 100 such comments across many different documents, that becomes a very laborious process. The same is true for Inline Annotations. Ideally, I need to see all those occurrences in the form of a list, as you can do when you search with Keywords.

I’m aware that I could create Scrivenings for each sentence / paragraph containing a specific topic. But this seems to be a messy option, when there are tens or even hundreds of topics in one document.

I realise that the kind of tool I’m referring might be beyond the current scope of Scrivener, and that I might have to cobble together a solution using current Search capabilities, keywords etc etc.

But it would be great if such a tool could come to the help of writers who need advance research tools at some point.


Hi Amorgwrites.
If I have understood your question, this may help.
I faced a similar issue, and have tried keywords, tagging … etc without success.
My issue was how to quickly find themes etc across diverse documents. While the overall document (to use your example) may be on the environment, how do I find the para on drought, and see all those other instances where I refer to drought in other documents.
This is what I did.
In every instance that I wanted to be able to find that ref I have an inline comment – #drought.
Then I run a project search on #drought to bring up all the folders/docs etc where this occurs
Then I save that search as a Collection.
Then every time I click on that Collection, it automatically updates and produces a list of occurences. I often sort this via date so I can see most recent
However it does not show me the specific passage until I select the folder and bring it up in the editor, but you can then of course open multiple docs at once if you want to see the passages alongside one another.
Hope that helps

Hi amorgwrites,

As you’ve discovered, Scrivener’s current level of support for tagging is primarily at the document level. Text level tagging requires working around that design.

You’ve already given inline Comments a try, but here’s another way to do it that may (or not) be useful to you.

Tag some drought-related text across a few of your documents with #drought, as inline Comments.

Then do a Project Search on #drought. Project Search looks in comments, so in the binder you should see a list of the documents whose Comments have #drought.

Select all the documents in the search results.

Select the Scrivenings view.

Toggle the Inspector on, and select the Comments tab.

So now on the left you’ve got all the documents that contain #drought-related text, which is useful to provide context for all of the text in the Scrivenings editor.

You can scroll through the Scrivenings text, and the sections of drought-related text should be highlighted, which is nice.

On the right are all the Comments for those documents. Unfortunately, it’s all the Comments, not just the ones that have #drought. Despite that, scrolling through the Comments, and spotting and selecting the ones with #drought should be faster than using Find by Formatting.

By the way, I’m on Windows Scriv. The current v1.9 doesn’t support listing Comments across documents in the Scrivenings view, but the Win Beta does, so I’m assuming Mac v3 does as well. And, of course, I’ve assumed that all the other stuff above works out similarly!

Hope that helps you find a method that works better. Let me know if you have any questions.


Well… if you have hundreds of topics in one document, I’m guessing it’s a pretty long and complex document, right? So how are you going to manage it if you don’t split it into smaller chunks?

Back in the pre-computer days, you would have been told to create stacks of 4"x6" index cards, one for each noteworthy bit in each of your source materials. Now, it’s possible to pull millions of words of verbatim source materials onto your computer, but I’m not sure humans have gotten any better at keeping complex structures in their heads. At some point you’re still going to need to organize the ideas from those source materials in whatever way supports your own research narrative, and you’re probably going to need to capture that structure in some concrete way.

Depending on the field and your source materials, you might need to split down the raw interview materials, or you might need to read through everything and distill out the important ideas first. But in my own experience, more granularity is better than less, and trying to avoid splitting things up doesn’t actually save time in the long run.


Hi All,

I’m having the same problem - and, I see that in Google Docs it IS possible to create inline tags by highlighting the related text, tagging and then you can search for a tag which creates a list of all the tagged text. Apparently you can then even automatically create a new doc just of all those lines of text. THAT is exactly what we need. I really want to keep using Scrivener for all the reasons it is otherwise wonderful for epic novel writing. But, boy I wish it could do this inline tagging. I’m having to manually track everyone’s backstory, everyone’s change of clothing, every mention of historical context, on and on.

So, add one more person with inline tagging as a major wish.

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