Theming and coding of text documents

Is there any way in Scrivener windows desktop to mark passages (word, phrase or longer) within a text document and coded with a tag. Then be able to view all the passaged tagged a certain way?

Let me give an example. I’m writing an historical fiction piece and I want to see all the passages that describe the historical setting. I read through the document and tag them in some way, and then I can view them in some sort of screen in summary, so I can see my development of the setting through these noncontiguous passages.

At the same time, I might use the tagging to mark passages that are a certain character’s internal thoughts so I can view them in total. So the tagging can be used for multiple purposes within one document.

Any thoughts on this??? When I was doing qualitative research we used a tool called NVivo which allowed you to do just that.

Thanks for your thoughts!!!


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To mark and navigate specific passages :

Else, to have a continuous read (all those passages in a Scrivening), split your documents in smaller sections containing those passages of interest, then use collections created manually, or off of the result of a later search for a specific tag.

After reading your post a second time, I think I see exactly (or pretty close) what you actually want. But Scrivener doesn’t handle it internally. You have to do it manually.
There are more than one way to do it.
I linked to the way I do it above.
In that same thread I linked to, @AmberV links to (or explains in that one thread, I don’t remember) his own way to handle this.
AmberV created the brick that is the manual. Both for Mac and Windows. You can trust his approach to work.
Mine works pretty well too.

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Thanks so much. I’ll take a look. It seems like it would be a useful function (i.e., to be able to view and edit certain passages at a glance, for example, a particular reference to a symbol or theme).

It can already be done.
It is just not as simple as select text then tag.
You need to “set it up” first.

So, I’m now using the comments function and it has some of the functionality I need. I am able to mark passages within the document, and I can categorize them using the color function on the comments menu. This would be ideal if I could:

  • categorize the comments with a user populated list of categories, like “symbolism”, and “backstory”.
  • filter the list of comments by the category assigned (above).

So, that would solve some of my issues. I still wouldn’t be able to extract the text and view/edit it in one view, but at least I’d be able to navigate quickly from one passage to another.


You are not the first to ask for a comprehensive tagging feature. It would be extremely useful.

If you break up your binder items to be really small, you might find some features of the Keyword labeling useful. (Menu bar → Help → Scrivener Manual → search the pdf)


Comments are really the only inline, character specific way to meaningfully interact with / attach stuff to your text, as far as I know.

The hacky way I’ve used to balance time/usefulness w/ comments is you make my own super-shorthand, and habitually only use the first (if you want to see them all the time ) or last (if you want them to be searchable, but not visible) line of every comment to be reserved for those tags.

If you get used to the flow / keystrokes of adding and searching for comments, you can get repeatable/consistent behavior and speed out of that method. Note that the key is to make your tags exclusive from text. Such as appending your favorite, easy to hit symbol to them.

Something like
“john= oldwar= histo= backsto=
comment comment comment”

It’s crude, and will not meet all your needs, but you can get the search preview to show them all.

Another tool w/in Scrivener that might be useful (but not what you’ve asked for) is the Styles feature. You can make a style for internal thought, character specific dialogue, ect, with it’s own formatting (and background highlight!) that can be switched to with a single shortcut. It helped a lot for me to skim through my chapters at a glance.

Is there a way to tag certain words in the text in order to create a collection of them for inspection? I am writing a scientific textbook and want to see what terms (in this particular case, rock names) I have used. I’d like to be able to read through the chapters and tag the names I run across. This is a problem akin to making an index, which is not something Scrivener can do. I have thought of kludges such as putting them in a color and then searching for stuff in that color, or adding a searchable character string (e.g., $%) that is stripped out on compilation, but these don’t put together a list of words so tagged–I’d have to jump from one to another in a Find operation and compile them manually.

Ideally I’d like to tag a word and then be able to see collections of the tagged words. I’d be happy to do this in another piece of software on compiled output. I’ve perused Appendix D without finding what I need. Advice appreciated.

Or, I can just copy words I find into another doc as I read through. But that seems so 1990s.

This post describes a method for tagging text that is quite effective. The style highlight feature can be made as prominent as you like, and can be hidden entirely via View ▸ Text Editing ▸ Hide Markup for when you don’t want to see them at all. But of course the main advantage is being able to select all styled text and copy and paste it into a list somewhere for review.

This is a problem akin to making an index, which is not something Scrivener can do.

It can, as we’ve recently been discussing in this thread.