Personal Publishing · Storytelling

Build Filters in Ulysses

Ulysses’ filter tool is useful in a number of ways. In Build Your Family History With Ulysses I discussed how I used tags and filters to organize stories by family group or topic. I also use filters to keep track of all the things that still need to be done. For example, I’m writing away and reach a spot where I’m missing a bit of information. Instead of interrupting the writing effort to go look for it, I type an inline comment describing what is needed and keep on writing. The To Do filter I’ve set up will collect all those reminders so I can deal with them when I’m ready.

Creating a filter is easy. On the Mac, choose the File > New Filter command. On the iPad, tap the plus sign at the top of the sidebar and choose New Filter. The filter panel appears.

blank filter panel
The blank filter panel

Start by giving your filter a name and choosing an icon to identify it as a filter. I use the picture icon for my “Need Pictures” filter and the default gear icon for most others. Click/tap the icon to change it.

Sample filter parameters
Sample filter parameters

The next step is to set the parameters for this filter. In this example I am looking for either the word “need” (as in need citation or need location) or the word “picture” but only when they appear inside a comment block. Comment blocks are found within the manuscript text and begin with two percent signs (%%). They are visible in the editor but don’t get exported. I find it easier to use comment blocks because they don’t interrupt me as I’m writing. Another option would be to create keywords in the attachments panel and set the filter’s parameters to look there. Do that by changing the dropdown box to the left of “contains” from Text to Keyword. This is how I set up the filters to keep the sheets in my project organized by family and topic.

content options
Content location options

As you can see in this example, there are a number of location parameters to help limit where the filter will look.

When I don’t have a piece of information, I’ll often type ??? at that point of the text and keep on writing. I could set up different filters to look for ??? in various places – like in footnotes to get the correct citation information or in a block quote to remember to add the citation’s author.

I can add/remove filter parameters by clicking the -/+ buttons at the end of each parameter. Did you notice the Match all conditions option at the top of the panel? If I had that checked, my ToDo filter would only display sheets meeting both parameters. As it is, the filter will display sheets containing one or both.

When I no longer need a filter, I just click on it in the sidebar and move it to the trash.

Ulysses’ filters offer an elegantly simple way to organize my writing project and keep track of all the little tasks and details that need attention. It’s never in the way but always nearby when I need it.

Life is good.

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