Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems #3 - Excerpts

In Ulysses every document has a excerpt. We're often asked what this is good for. Our common answer is: "This depends on what you use it for."

But first things first: The excerpt can be found in several places. In a open document, click on the popup menu right above the Notes and select "Notes + Excerpt" from the menu. The lower box that appears is the excerpt field. For closed documents in the Browser, the excerpt can be found in the notes preview. On the top left corner there is a little eye-button. Click on it till the little overlay says Excerpt. This section cannot be edited as it's more or less a preview. Still, if you want to edit the excerpt of a document directly from the Browser, this can be done in the Info panel. Either use the menu item "Get Info" or hit Cmd-I. A sheet will open where all common things about a document can be changed, including the excerpt.

So what is this good for? The excerpt can be seen as a attribute to a document. Several uses pop to my mind immediately.

The first is to use it as a summary of your document. E.g. you could hold summaries of what happened in each chapter of the book. When selecting multiple documents in the browser, the excerpt panel will show all excerpts in a row. You could use this to get a general overview of the flow of your story.

The excerpt can also be used as a kind of setlist. Imagine you write a screenplay, then the excerpt could hold all appearing characters. Finding scenes where this and that character appeared made easily. As it's just a text field, combining the setlist with a short summary would give the perfect overview of a scene.

We once received the request for the ability to add tags to a document. Our answer was to use the excerpt. One could hold keywords characterizing a document in there. The excerpt is fully searchable. You could create several Filters searching for a distinct combination of keywords. Using Ulysses' powerful filters in combination with other document properties like labels, timestamps and change date, filtes can become quite useful. Here's an example:

Complex filter setting

This will give you important articles you haven't worked on for a while but that are yet unfinished.

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