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I've got TODOs that I need to have a long description for but org-mode keeps telling me I have a malformed drawer and adds an additional :PROPERTIES: section. Here's an example of the problem.

*** My task title
    DEADLINE: <2018-01-30 Tue>
    :PROPERTIES:                             <-- adds this section
    :END:                                    <--
    :PROPERTIES:
    :DESCRIPTION: Questions to address:
What is the moon made of?
How many questions can you create for this sample?
What does Google do when you're not searching?
    :END:

Are multi-line descriptions simply not supported or am I formatting things improperly?

  • Can't you just use the paragraph belonging to the headline? – Tobias Jan 29 '18 at 17:07
  • Perhaps, but then I cannot fold the task to see others more easily... – Christian Di Lorenzo Jan 29 '18 at 17:07
  • If there's some other property for storing notes, that would also work just fine. (BTW, thanks for helping me again :-) – Christian Di Lorenzo Jan 29 '18 at 17:08
  • I don't get the message malformed drawer with org-version 9.1.6. Why do you create two property drawers? One would be sufficient. – Tobias Jan 29 '18 at 17:13
  • I just created one, but then it adds that first empty section after I specify "Yes" to the question of fixing the malformed drawer. That happens when I try to set a deadline (some other action) on a different TODO. Sorry I didn't clarify that earlier. – Christian Di Lorenzo Jan 29 '18 at 17:14
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The org-mode manual says that property value pairs must be on the same line:

Each property is specified on a single line, with the key (surrounded by colons) first, and the value after it.

But you may extend a given property by +:.

If you want to add to the value of an existing property, append a ‘+’ to the property name. The following results in the property ‘var’ having the value “foo=1 bar=2”.

#+PROPERTY: var  foo=1
#+PROPERTY: var+ bar=2

So instead of

*** My task title
    :PROPERTIES:
    :DESCRIPTION: Questions to address:
What is the moon made of?
How many questions can you create for this sample?
What does Google do when you're not searching?
    :END:

you would have to write

*** My task title
    :PROPERTIES:
    :DESCRIPTION: Questions to address:
    :DESCRIPTION+: What is the moon made of?
    :DESCRIPTION+: How many questions can you create for this sample?
    :DESCRIPTION+: What does Google do when you're not searching?
    :END:

Calling org-schedule on the headline then gives you correctly:

*** Another task title
    SCHEDULED: <2018-01-29 Mon 10:00>
    :PROPERTIES:
    :DESCRIPTION: Questions to address:
    :DESCRIPTION+: What is the moon made of?
    :DESCRIPTION+: How many questions can you create for this sample?
    :DESCRIPTION+: What does Google do when you're not searching?
    :END:

Even if the notation in the buffer gives the impression of a multi-line property the actual value of DESCRIPTION just contains one line. That may be important if you need that value for further processing.


Note, that you should use the paragraph below the section instead of the DESCRIPTION property if the description is that long. In the paragraph you have also better structural means such as lists.

You can limit the revealed tree view to headers with C-u org-show-children or with the corresponding outline key sequence C-u C-TAB.

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