Editing and Writing With Comments and Co.

“This dialogue seems artificial.” – “Is it probable to die from a rattlesnake’s bite?” – Sometimes you will want to add related comments and thoughts to the texts you are writing or editing. In Ulysses, there are several ways to do this. Today’s tip introduces comments and Co. and gives some inspiration on how to make use of them in a writers’ workflow.

Please note: Some of the mentioned features require Markdown XL, i.e. they’re not available in External Folders or when using another markup.

Your Red Pencil: Comments

You can type your comments directly into the text and mark them up: Enclose an inline comment with two plus signs ++, or start a paragraph with two percent signs %% to mark it as comment block. Depending on your settings, comments might be differentiated by a lighter font and/or a colorful highlight.

Comments are great for taking down anything you want to remember which doesn’t directly belong to the text itself. They’re easy to distinguish and in most cases excluded from export. (Of Ulysses’ built-in export styles, only Manuscript exports comments.) So you can export and print a PDF from your text without concerning yourself with unprocessed comments.

You could also use comments to start a new sheet with a short synopsis of your text. In his book “Writing a Novel With Ulysses”, David Hewson proposes to do this for every single scene of a novel. The first lines of this synopsis will appear as a preview in the sheet table. For a novel, this allows for a handy overview of all scenes.

Your Sticky Notes: Annotations

Annotations are best compared to sticky notes. Put curly braces { } around the text you want to annotate; this opens a small popover where you can add your thoughts. The annotated text gets highlighted, and you can always double-click it to open and edit your annotation. If you want, you can drag it off and place it anywhere on your screen. The small arrow in the upper right corner always takes you back to the relevant text passage.

For deleting an annotation, place the cursor behind it and press the backspace key for two times. This will only delete the annotation but keep the annotated text intact.

When you export to PDF or DOCX, annotations will appear consecutively numbered at the end of every page.

Last but Not Least: Notes

Notes relate to a sheet as a whole. To add a note, open the attachment sidebar by clicking the paperclip icon at the top right of your window. Then, click the notepad icon below. You can then fill out the newly created note.

As with annotations, you can drag notes off and place them anywhere you like. So if you want to keep an eye on your synopsis while writing a long scene, it might be a good idea to put it in a note. To remove a note, right click the note and select Remove Note from the context menu. Notes are excluded from export.

Filter for Comments and Annotations

If you want, you can specifically filter your sheets for text contained in comments and annotations. As an example: You could add an inline comment “Reformulate” to awkward prose, and then build a filter to see all sheets containing passages with need for linguistic review:

With sheet table search, you can achieve similar results – just limit its search scope to comments, inline comments or annotations, respectively:

Clean Statistics

Comments, annotations and notes belong to the text, but they are not part of the content. The words written there do not account for your text statistics or the achievement of writing goals. So there’s no need to hold-off, you can take down your thoughts as detailed as you want.

Except for sheet table search, the mentioned features are also available with Ulysses for iPad. Happy commenting!

This article was first published on December 11, 2014. It was revised and updated for the current version.

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Rebekka Honeit

Blog-curating writing maniac and public relations person. Loves coffee, chocolate cookies and literature. Finds peace in tweaking press copy.