Is there some way in org-mode to keep track of people mentioned in an outline?

Sometimes I use an @ in front of a person's handle to keep a note of who was the source of a piece of information, or who to ask about a particular question, or even who is responsible for a delegated TODO. This personal syntax looks like this:

* Earth orbits Sun
This was originally proposed by @copernicus.
* TODO ask @galileo about this
* TODO @newton works on an alternative formulation

I can then search for those specific strings in the file or the whole folder. I could use tags for the same, but then I could not use them in body text, only on headings, and only at the end of the sentence ... Also, I feel like a tag should represent a cross-hierarchy category for a heading, but not specifically a person.

The things I am missing with my ad-hoc solution are:

  1. org agenda functions to filter only tasks that mention specific people, or that mention people at all,
  2. maybe some type of columnar view that shows all people mentioned in a larger body of text

Does anyone know if there is an org-mode syntax for this that I may have overlooked, or else a package that provides this functionality?

  • 1
    I don't know of anything that does this in Org mode (and I don't know of any package that does this, but that is definitively not definitive :-) ) However, if you are willing to use tags for tasks (e.g. assign the tag @galileo to the TODO task ask about this etc), you might find some inspiration at egli.dev/posts/using-org-mode-for-meeting-minutes
    – NickD
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 17:23
  • The @ symbol will at least give you an easy way to search full text. It might be worth investigating creating a new link type for this: kitchingroup.cheme.cmu.edu/blog/2016/11/04/…
    – Tyler
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


I use https://github.com/jkitchin/scimax/blob/master/org-db.el for something like this. It doesn't directly support your syntax.

I have toyed with storing hashtags (which is pretty similar), with mixed success. There are a lot of false positives especially with org-mode and src-blocks. I added support for @labels, and if it goes well in the next few days, I will probably commit it to the link above.

I have used a contact link as suggested in the comment above, and there is an org-db-links command for finding them.

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