Tips for using Scriv for a book comprised mainly of quotes?

Hi, folks. I’m brand new to Scrivener, and I’m trying to figure out how to use it to manage a key aspect of my book project.

I’m writing a nonfiction book on a relationship topic. I’ve conducted a survey that’s gotten well over 1000 responses, with people supplying long answers (hundreds of words each) in several of the open-text fields. It’s amazing how much content I’ve gotten without really trying hard – people have so much to say!

My book will form a synthesis of this topic by weaving together lots of quotes from my surveys (I’m trying to quote each survey at least once, actually) – rather like a patchwork quilt. The manuscript will contain lots of text that looks like this:

I’d like to use Scrivener to manage each quote independently, so I can experiment with placement, organization, and which quotes to include in the book (or not).

Each quote has some metadata associated with it:

  1. First name or pseudonym of respondent being quoted
  2. Identification: Some contextual information relevant to their quote – could be age, sexual orientation, preferred relationship approach, or whether they live in a rural area vs. city, etc. This will vary by quote, it’s not necessarily a uniform set of categories across all quotes. It’s just to help the readers understand each quote in the context of that chapter.
    3. Record number corresponding to that survey in my database.

How can I display metadata with each quote? In my finished manuscript, I’d like the first two pieces of metadata to appear under each quote (as shown above). The record number will not be displayed; that is for my own internal project management only.

I’ve created a individual quote template document, which has these metadata fields. However, I’m not sure how to make the desired metadata fields to display in the manuscript text. Think of it this way: it’s basically a citation that appears immediately underneath each quote, not as a footnote or in a bibliography or appendix.

What might be some good ways to work with these individual quotes in my project – so I can group them thematically, integrate them with bridging and expository text, etc.? Is metadata the best way to be handling this, or should I be using some citation tool?

Thanks much! I’m enjoying learning Scrivener and look forward to your ideas.

I think your plan sounds like a good use of Scrivener’s features. I use a somewhat similar technique in the Scapple user manual, within the menu appendix. Each menu command has its own Binder item, organised into a logical outline that mimics the menu structure of Scapple. I store the keyboard shortcuts for the commands themselves in custom meta-data fields (one for PC and one for Mac), and then use a special placeholder in the text itself to call that data into the document when it is compiled. Thus something like this (removing the distraction of the MultiMarkdown and homebrew syntax I use for formatting):

<$title> (<$custom:Shortcut>) Description of the menu command...

Ends up, give or take, as the following, in the PDF:

Split (⌘K) Description of the menu command…

The $title placeholder will of course take the name of the document and print it in that position. If the name of the command changes, I need only fix it in the outline. The $custom placeholder is how you pull in custom meta-data fields, like you are talking about. The second component of that placeholder is the name of the field you wish to pull the value for.

So in your case, making assumptions on how your meta-data fields are named, something like the following could work:

[size=80]Placeholders will retain the formatting of the placeholder itself, when substituted via compile.[/size]

A natural place to put these is in the document template that you created for quotes, since the attribution line would pretty much always be the same. I would put some dummy text above that and select it, in the template. That way when you create a new document the dummy text will hold the formatting you want for the quote body, and since it is already select you can just paste it right in using Paste and Match Style.

There is another approach, although I don’t think it is best for this particular application since you need the meta-data after the body text, but another place where you can insert static template info is in the Formatting pane, off of the title Prefix/Suffix fields. In some scenarios, you wouldn’t even need the ugly placeholder codes all over the place in your text.

Another side note: Placeholder tags like this can pull data remotely, via the use of Scrivener Links. Select the entire placeholder tag and link it to the document you wish to pull the values from. This was the main reason I used custom fields for shortcuts, so that I need only store that particular piece of information once in the user manual, all references throughout the manual pull that shortcut from one single Binder item’s meta-data field. I’m not sure if that will be useful to you with what you’re doing, but it’s a powerful enough feature to mention, just in case.

Another great feature I had no idea it existed. Thanks! Scrivener is really something! 8)

Thanks much for the guidance, AmberV. As I mentioned, I’m brand new to Scrivener. I’m also not a coder, although I’m willing to learn. I know nothing about placeholder tags yet, but I’ll read up on that now. Appreciate the clue; on the basic tutorial I didn’t even know that functionality existed.

You’re welcome! Fortunately there is no real coding involved. :slight_smile: The placeholder system is fairly simple in Scrivener (some of the more advanced numerical counter techniques aside—you can do some fancy stuff like maintaining multiple counter streams and giving generated numbers a name; useful for generating lists of tables and figures and then cross-referencing them from elsewhere in the text, for example). You can look up all of the codes in the “Placeholder Tag List…” from the Help menu. Most are very basic. You type in <$label> and when you compile the colour label for that item is printed instead of the placeholder—that sort of stuff.

Have any of you updated / developed this workflow since last comment?