Using Keywords in Scrivener [1 of 2]

I use keywords alot in Scrivener to doing my literature review. Keywords are essentially tags and can be extremely useful for gathering different ideas across various documents- however, there are a couple of practices that you need to implement from the word go to maximise the utility of keywords

  • when taking notes from your readings, you’ll need to split them into sections. This is so that each section can have its own keywords – if you just write one long document, then the keywords will apply to everything within that document- which isn’t really helpful when you are searching for a particular point.
  • You’ll need to make sure your document splits are child documents to the parent document (this is for ease of reading via the ‘group’ mode & if you do want to apply a certain keywords to the entire documents then its possible. For example, lets say I’ve got Author X who is writing about social inclusion – after my 1st reading through I can see that this author is talking about social inclusion + power, social inclusion + poverty, social inclusion + conflict- so from my notes and quotes I actually want everything to have the keyword ‘social inclusion’ but then I want to ‘tag’ certain sections with other keywords such ‘power’; ‘poverty’; ‘conflict’. Once I’ve done this process with many documents, when I come to writing about social inclusion and power – I can use my Keyword search to look for “social inclusion AND power” and any documents tagged (that is, with the assigned keywords) like this will turn up- I can then save the search as a collection.
  • You make make ‘in vivo’ keywords by highlighting the text in the document and dragging it into the inspector section in scrivener. This is quick and easy

About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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