Studio Musings

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lessons Learned: Scrivener Writing Software

Every craftsperson knows that the right tools make the job simpler and easier.   This week, I thought I’d share a review of one of my hands-down favorite pieces of software.   It’s called Scrivener, and it’s designed to make it easier for authors to put their manuscripts together.  In truth, it’s great for any large writing project with lots of ‘moving’ parts.

Why do I love Scrivener?

1) It makes it so much easier to organize your writing.  

To organize your document using Word (or other traditional word-processors), you might create separate folders for each chapter, and then separate documents for each section in the chapters.  To edit your project, you would need to find and open each individual file.  This can mean lots of open files.  And what if you want to see how one section flows into the next. Do you copy and paste both files into a separate document?  Then what happens when you need to do more editing; which do you edit, the combined document or the individual files?  Nightmare!

Scrivener organizes all of these 'files' within one Binder document.  Here's a screenshot from an early version of my Scrivener file for Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading

Scrivener file for Explorations, with my original outline in the right window
The Binder window on the left gives a quick overview all my documents 'files' and 'folders'.  I can click on any folder to see all of its files.  Click on a file and it shows up in the larger window to the right.   And if I want to see how one file flows into another?

Screenshot from early in the project

I simply select multiple files from the binder at left to view them in the right window.  A horizontal line shows the transition from one section to the next. You can see this in the screenshot above.  (I added the red annotations in Photoshop). 

Need to rearrange sections?  It's as easy as simply dragging and dropping the file or folder names in the binder view at left.

2.  Scrivener allows you to view two sections side by side. 

Scrivener allows you to view (and edit) two documents side-by-side
 This is so useful for editing! 

3.  Fantastic Tools for Printing and Compilation

When you are ready to 'print' you can compile and export the entire draft into a single Word document.  Scrivener provides a number of tools to help you easily format that document.  Checkboxes allow you to quickly select which files you wish to include when you compile your document. 

This is particularly useful for for fiction or novel-style books.  Since all of my page layout was in InDesign, I couldn't take advantage of the compile feature for the print copy of my book.  But I did use this to create separate files for the ebook versions.  

4.  You can store research inside your Scrivener document

Scrivener allows you to store and organize your background research, documents and even whole web pages into a separate section.  Amongst other things, I used the research section to store all of the text I'd received from my contributing artists, and copies of older blog posts that related to the book.  Having this information easily accessible and organized made life so much easier!

The research doesn't compile with the rest of the draft, but remains with the Scrivener file.

5.  At $45, it's Not Terribly Expensive

Literature and Latte (the company that produces Scrivener) offers a free 30 day trial for both Windows and Mac.  If you fall in love with the software during the trial, its only $45.  Compared to the other software I use, this is such a good price!  (I don't have any affiliation with Scrivener, or Litterature and Latte except as a very happy customer). 

In this review I've just barely touched on the power and capabilities of Scrivener.  My goal was to simply highlight some of their most basic and powerful features.  One of the other things I love about Scrivener is their in-depth (and FREE) instructional videos and tutorials that will quickly introduce you to so many more possibilities. 

While it's designed for writers, I've used Scrivener for all sorts of things, including storing research for upcoming trips because it's so easy to organize and access information.


  1. What an awesome post!

    The more I hear about Scrivener, the more I want to use it. I had no idea about the research organization aspect of it, and this is especially interesting to me because one of the projects I'm working on now requires a lot of research. I have articles pinned on Pinterest, bookmarked, and in fifty other places, and I need to get them all together.

    Thanks for doing this series, Karen! I'm learning a lot. <3

  2. Very informative post.You have explained everything about Scrivener Writing Software.I use the best essay writing service for writing help.Thank you so much for sharing these information about Scrivener Writing Software.