Comments, Annotations, Notes

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“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. In the following, we introduce comments and Co. and give some inspiration on how to make use of them in a writers’ workflow.

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. If you're working on iOS, you can also quick-access these tags  (just like any other markup tag) via Ulysses' markup buttons which are located above the virtual keyboard. Depending on the theme you're using, comments may be differentiated by a lighter font or a colorful highlight.

Screenshot of a commentblock and an inline comment in Ulysses for Mac.

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 will instantly let you add your thoughts in a separate field. The annotated text gets highlighted, and you can always double-click or double-tap it to open and edit your annotation.

Screenshot of an annotation in the editor of Ulysses for iPhone.

Screenshot of an annotation in Ulysses for iPhone being edited.

On the Mac, you can drag the annotation field off and place it anywhere on your screen for permanent reference. The small arrow in the upper right corner always takes you back to the relevant text passage.

Screenshot of Ulysses for Mac. An annotation is being edited.

To delete an annotation, place the cursor behind it and press or tap backspace for two times. This will only delete the annotation but keep the annotated text intact. You can also use the Remove command inside the annotation.

Last but Not Least: Notes

Unlike annotations and comments, notes relate to a sheet as a whole. To add a note, open the attachment sidebar using the paperclip icon top right. Then, click or tap the notepad icon. You can then fill out the newly created note. A sheet can have as many notes as you want.

Screenshot of two notes in the attachment bar of Ulysses for Mac.

To remove a note, right-click the note and select "Remove Note" from the context menu. When working on iOS, swipe left on the note and select Delete.

As with annotations, you can drag notes off when working on Mac. So if you want to keep an eye on your synopsis while writing an extended scene, it might be a good idea to put it in a note.

Comments, Annotations, and Notes During Export

Comments, annotations, and notes 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 Rough Cut exports comments and annotations. Notes are always excluded.) So you can export and print a PDF from your text without concerning yourself with unprocessed thoughts, additions, and ideas.

Filter for Comments and Annotations

If you want, you can explicitly 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 a need for editing.

Screenshot of a filter in Ulysses for Mac. The filter is called “Locations” and the condition is “comments, that contain the text ‘New Zealand’.On Mac, you can achieve similar results with sheet table search – just limit its search scope to comments, inline comments or annotations, respectively.

Screenshot of the Sheet Table search, which is searching for the phrase “New Zealand” in inline comments.

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.

Happy commenting!

This article was last updated on June 26, 2018.

Comments, Annotations, Notes

Use these options to keep information at hand that’s not part of the text itself