Scrivener and Other Writing Tutorials, Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Scrivener Basics | Inspector Menu Functions | Metadata

What is Metadata?

Metadata summarizes basic information about data, which can make finding and working with particular instances of data easier.


in Scrivener the most important metadata about a document is it’s title as this will be used to identify the document in the many views, menus, and export methods. 

You can view your metadata in several different views

Here is an example of Label metadata that has been applied to documents in the Corkboard and Outliner views

If you select a document from the Binder and hit your spacebar you can also see some types of metadata in a Quick Reference pane.

The main interface for viewing and editing your metadata is the Inspector Window

  1. Open the Inspector Window via the Inspector tool in your toolbar.
  2. Most of the metadata is inside the Metadata Tab.
  3. Although Labels and Status Stamp menus are available in all the tabs, they are in fact metadata. 
  4. So are the Synopses written in the Notes Tab.

General Metadata

In the Metadata Tab you will find that each document in Scrivener has certain types of general metadata attached to it automatically like date created or edited.

And whether it will be included when you compile for export. Everything in your Manuscript/Draft folder will be checked on by default, but if you are absolutely sure you want to exclude a particular document when you export your manuscript you can uncheck it here. I prefer to uncheck documents inside the Compile menu as I am compiling for export.

Section Types

Scrivener has a metadata category for Section Types which determine how to format the current document when you compile your manuscript for export. These Section Types depend on what kind of document you are exporting. A novel might have parts, chapters and scenes, a non-fiction book might have chapters and sections, etc.


The templates you start out in for each of these types of documents come with this metadata already configured for you, but if you started in a blank template or if you want to deviate from the standard templates you can create your own by opening the Edit… menu from the dropdown list.

Custom Metadata

You can add your own metadata if you are looking for the ability to mark sections of your project with specific information. Open the Gear icon or click on the Custom Metadata button to bring up the Custom Metadata tab in the Project Settings menu below.

  1. Click on the + button to add a new metadata field. 
  2. In this hypothetical example I am suggesting 101 books for children to read, so I have added a metadata field for author nationality so that I can tell at a glance if I need to add books by nationalities other than English to offer a diverse range.
  3. Place a check inside the Use colored text field to color code your metadata types if you plan to have several categories.
  4. I will choose red for author nationality.
  1. Back in the Custom Metadata tab click immediately below the category title to add nationalities for each of your documents. Thomas The Tank Engine was written by an English author.
  2. Open the gear icon to add further categories. I have added whether a book is illustrated or not and chosen blue to differentiate this category from my author nationality information.

Add a column for your new Metadata in Outliner Mode

As soon as you add a field in the Metadata Tab in the Inspector it becomes available as an option to add to your columns in Outliner Mode.


  1. Open the columns drop down arrow and choose your new category from the list.
  2. The custom metadata for each document can be viewed and edited either in the Outliner or the Inspector.

Keywords

The last container in the Metadata Tab is for adding your own keywords. Click on the + button in the Keywords header bar and type in your keyword. For a recipe book this might be certain ingredients like chocolate, nuts, cream cheese, ginger. For a novel this may be character names. For this book it could be something like adventure or fantasy.


Once you have a few keywords assigned to your project you can open the gear icon and choose Show Project Keywords. 

  1. From the Project Keyword dialogue box you can drag a keyword into the keyword column of your Outliner to assign it to other documents. You can assign multiple keywords to one document.
  2. You can edit and view keywords from within the Project Keyword window or the Keyword tab in the Inspector.
  1. To change the color associated with a keyword, double-click on its color chip in the keywords panel which will bring up the colours menu.
  2. Select a keyword and search the whole project for all instances of it, which brings up the Search Results pane in the Binder area and a list of documents associated with the keyword.
  3. Click on the little cross in the top left of the Search Results window to revert to the Binder.
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