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Highlight for Fold

Last updated on May 26, 2022

(update to this is at

In the quest to help the user have a better overview experience of their work, there has been much back and forth as to what to show and when. The current step forward is this.

User Action

Highlight text using cmd-shift-h and the highlight appear as a white background. When user folds the document into an outline/table of contents, the any highlighted text appears along with the headings.


First change the highlight colour from yellow to white (#ffffff) in light mode and light grey in dark mode (#454545) and make the grey normal background a touch darker (#e4e4e4). This would then look like this:

Which then renders in the folded view like this, only showing sections the user has specifically marked as important, but they render as normal body text.

User Benefit

With this approach the user can easily (cmd-shift-h) assign highlighting of the pertinent parts of the paragraphs when working on a longer document to see this in the folded view (cmd-minus). Another fold action hides the highlighted text, then hides the lowest level heading and so on.

When writing, this should help the author mark what really matters, to help them skim, without having to hide the context and the text which is needed in the document.

Implementation Benefit

No standard typographic semantic cues, such as bold, are used, leaving this as a separate markup for the author, without interfering with the exported document.

Implementation Notes

The highlights are not exported with the document.

We may want to have a toggle in Preferences for ‘White Highlight/Yellow Highlight’ for legacy users.


Future version can have the highlighted text added to the headings section in Visual-Meta so that these highlighted words also show up in the folded view in Reader and other Visual-Meta aware applications.

Design Note

It is more readable in the folded view to have the highlighted text appear as plain text, without the highlight, as shown in these mockups:

Design process notes

Key, competing criteria was that it should be a clean document but clear overview.

If it was done automatically, such as showing the first sentence in a paragraph, then paragraphs which are not important to the author, but need to be in the document anyway, get too much attention.

Experiments were done with showing yellow highlighted text (too extreme when reading) and using bold, but bold has other value. After testing it seems white highlight works the best.



Published inThoughts

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