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Tech Tuesday: Linking documents in Scrivener

Last week I looked at how Scrivener's Annotations feature allows you to mark up your documents with reminders for further research or revision notes.

But maybe you want to write a pretty lengthy note on a new direction for the scene, or you want to link to another scene within your project. Or you have the research article imported into your project already, but you don't want to stop and go through it right now.

For cases like those above, Scrivener offers the ability to insert links to other documents within your project. You can link to text documents (scenes, character notes, story outline), or to files, photos, and web pages already imported into your project. You can even create a link and a new document at the same time.


How to insert a link to an existing file within your Scrivener project:

1. Select the word or text you'd like to use for the hyperlink (otherwise, Scrivener will insert a link with the name of the file you select).
NOTE: You can choose to insert the link in an annotation to prevent it from being embedded in the text of your MS.

2. Go to Edit–>Scrivener Link, point to the location of the file, click on the file you want to link.

What if you want to make a list or a full page of notes?

1. Follow step 1 from above.

2. Go to Edit–>Scrivener Link–>New Link.
A pop-up menu appears with the Create New Linked Document tab selected.

3. Choose the location where you want to save the new file, enter a name for it in the text box, and click OK.
The new document appears in a quick-reference panel so you can add text.

4. Type in your notes, lists, ramblings, etc.

5. If you remove or delete the link, the new note will not be deleted from the Binder.

Want to insert a hyperlink to a web page that's not imported into your project?

1. Copy the URL of the web page.

2. Select the word or text you'd like to use for the hyperlink.

3. Go to Edit–>Add Link.

4. Make sure the Web option is selected, and then enter the URL of the web page in the text box and click OK.
NOTE: If you copied the address from your web browser, it probably already has the http:// in it, so choose the No Prefix option.

Use your link:

1. Click on the hyperlink to switch to the linked document.

2. Use the back arrow to go back to the original document.

Edit a link:

1. Select the text of the link.

2. Go to Edit–>Edit Link (Mac) or Edit–>Link (Windows).

Remove a link:

1. Select the text of the link.

2. Go to Edit–>Unlink. Or, just right click the link and choose Remove Link (Mac) or Unlink (Windows).

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

 Happy linking!

[Updated 5/22/13]

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    • I wouldn’t expect you to be interested in this anyway. It only applies to people using Scrivener software which is geared toward writers (mostly books and screenplays and such). But, thanks for checking in! 😉

    • Bojan: Edit–>Add Link. Select the Web option, then enter the web address. If you copied it from your browser and it has http in it already, choose the No Prefix option.

    • Jenna: Unfortunately, no (though I believe L&L is looking at how they could do it in the future). The best you could do is use a Document or Project Reference to reference the other project. You can easily copy a document from one project to another, though. Just open both projects and position the windows so you can see both Binders. Then drag the desired item(s) from one Binder to the other.

      If you’re writing a series and have a lot of the same material, you might consider writing all books within one project, or creating a “series bible” project that you leave open while working on each book. Hope that helps!

  1. Viva Vargas

    Hi, thanks a lot for your tips!! I’d like to know if it’s possible to create a link from a word or phrase to a specific document’s location. I know that is possible to link a location to a document. My question is if it’s possible to link two location in two different documents.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Viva: Unfortunately, you can’t choose a specific location within the document. What you could do is create a bookmark for the linked document so that it’s easy to jump to the location, but there’s no way to link directly.

      • Viva Vargas

        Ok. Thanks a lot. I’m looking forward. Maybe in a future release…

  2. Mark

    I’m having problems linking a word in a chapter to another location in the manuscript. It works within scrivener but when compiled to an epub the link fails. Any ideas?

    • Mark: Does the link fail, or is it not there at all? If it’s missing, make sure in the Compile window, under the HTML Settings tab, you have Convert Scrivener Links To HTML Links selected.

      • JK

        Is there an alternate way to “Convert Scrivener Links To HTML Links” in windows version, because I don’t have an HTML Settings tab in the compile window.

      • JK

        I actually found the answer. Doesn’t seem to be an option in Windows version. But, I did discover that Footnotes in Scrivener are actually Endnotes, which is what I wanted in the first place. It works great.

        • JK: That option isn’t there, but you might check to see if they get converted to HTML automatically, because the links in a table of contents appear to work fine.

          As for the footnotes, whether they end up as footnotes or endnotes depends on the output type. If you compile to a DOCX or RTF, for example, you can choose between standard footnotes and endnotes on the Comments/Footnotes tab of Compile. Anyway, glad that’s working for you!

  3. EJ

    How do you edit a hyperlink in Scrivener?
    How do I examine a hyperlink to a website, for example, and edit it to correct an error.

  4. I use the word version and I’m editing an existing doc. If I highlight the text, Pick Edit Link, paste the web link in, it works while I stay on that chapter, but if I leave that chapter folder to go into another one and then come back, the link I created doesn’t work, the test isn’t associated with a link. Any ideas?

  5. Thank you! It took me forever (and a google search which yielded your website) to figure out how to put a darn hyperlink to a webpage into Scrivener.

  6. Hello, I’m now at Scrivener. I couldn’t find in Edit > Scrivener Link > New Link
    I’d like to create a pop-up menu to make a list of notes. Where can I find it them?

    • Amanda: What I mean by that is to go the the Edit menu (up at the top of your Scrivener window), then point to Scrivener Link and click New Link. I double-checked, and this feature is available for both Mac and Windows. Good luck!

  7. In scrivener, under edit, I don’t have ‘Add Link’. If I added a note and put the url there, is it linked there? Under Edit, I have a black word which says Unlink so I am assuming it’s linked?

    • kacienoonan: If you’ve selected an existing link, Add Link changes to Edit Link. And, yes, Unlink becomes active. So, you already have the link in there. 🙂

  8. Hi Gwen,

    Great tutorial. Can’t wait to go through your site and get some other Scrivener tips.

    I’m trying to think if there’s a clever way to insert links to several documents at once. Here’s what I’m trying to achieve, maybe you have another way of handling it that I’m not thinking of:

    I’m a poet so I keep a lot of individual documents in Scrivener. I’d like to make a to do list of sorts where I make a table of contents and insert some notes about next steps with each piece. Any ideas?

    • Matthew: That’s actually really easy. Just select the desired documents in the Binder, and go to Edit–>Copy Special–>Copy Documents As Scrivener Links. Then paste the links into the desired document. 🙂 Glad you’re finding the site helpful!

  9. Is there a way to link multiple words to one link at once? For instance, during my writing, I want to like every “Jessica” I write to her character template. I know how to link it, but is there way for me to highlight all Jessica’s and link them at one time. I’ve tried doing the search, highlighting all the Jessica’s and then adding the link, but it only adds to the last Jessica I’ve clicked. Is there a way around this, or do you have any tips…?

    • ridiculousreviewer: Sorry, but I don’t know of a way to do that either. I tried a couple ideas I had, but none of them worked. You might consider what you’re really trying to accomplish (e.g. easy access to the character file) and see if there’s a better way to make it happen. Do you really need every instance of her name linked to the file?

      If you wanted quicker access to character profiles, you could create document or project references for them. (Here’s a post on references: I hope you find something that works for you! If so, feel free to come back and share. 🙂

  10. Erik

    Hello, thanks for the tips!
    Here’s a very neat trick that works at least on Mac.
    Inside the text of the link, you can use and to get the title of the linked to document and the page number respectively.
    A must-have when creating paper books.
    If you use headline numberings, the will contain that as well (in fact the $title tag will contain everything you’ve compiled into the title, so sometimes it might be more convenient to only use the $p-tag).

    • Erik

      Um. And what I mean to say is that the $title and $p tags (surrounded by angel-brackets) is what you use inside the link text. However, it seems they’ve been cleaned out… :O

  11. Len

    Hi Gwen. I have a need to reuse certain paragraphs repeatedly within the same document. The idea being that this specific text, wherever I use it will be updated everywhere upon editing its core location. I can’t seem to find a way to link this into the primary manuscript components so the text appears when I compile. Any Idea how to do this? /Len

    • Hi, Len. There’s no way to link the contents of another document, though I can see that being really handy.

      You might be able use the Replacement function in Compile, though. You would use a specific word or set of characters to represent where you want to insert the text. Then, in Compile on the Replacements tab, you would put that word/text in the Replace text box and put the text you want to insert into the With text box. I haven’t tested if there’s a word count maximum.

  12. Ramuh

    I’m trying to make TOCs inside a single text document. Is it still impossible to link words to different paragraphs within the same document in Scrivener?

    • Hi, Ramuh. Unfortunately, you still can’t link to a specific area within a text document in Scrivener. As far as I know, that won’t change with the new version either.

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