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Tech Tuesday: Advanced Highlighter Features in Scrivener

You probably know that you can highlight text in Scrivener using your choice of colors. Big deal, right? Any decent word processor offers that. But did you know that you can also search by color, and rename the colors to something more meaningful for how you use them?

If not, then read on.

Just in case you don't know already, here's how to highlight text in Scrivener with one of the standard highlighter colors (or one of your own choosing).

  1. Select the text you want to highlight.
  2. Go to Format–>Highlight, and then choose the color from the submenu.

Now on to the really cool stuff. I know several people who mark up their paper drafts with highlighters. Why? One does it for items such as dialogue, emotion, conflict, and setting. Another marks each character's dialogue so he can track it through the whole MS and make sure it's consistent. Still another uses it to mark areas that need research or revision (much like we did with annotations).

You are only limited by your imagination here. Once you've marked up your draft, you can use the Find Highlight function to search for all highlighted text, or one color.

  1. Go to Edit–>Find–>Find By Formatting.
  2. In the Find drop-down menu, select Highlighted Text.
  3. To search for only one color, check the box next to Limit Search To Color, then click the color box to choose the desired color.
  4. Click Next (or Previous if you want to go backwards).
  5. Scrivener will take you to the next instance of the chosen color(s) in your MS.
  6. You can edit or read the text and then click Next again to move to the next instance, without closing the Highlights Finder dialog box.

Image of Formatting Finder window
If you'd like the change the color names to something more meaningful, you can do that too (currently Mac only).

  1. Go to Format–>Highlight–>Show Colors.
  2. Select the color label (double click) and type your own label.
  3. The new labels will show up in the Highlight submenu of the Format menu.


I hope you found this as cool as I did. Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session.

Happy highlighting!
[updated 7/31/14]


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