Scrivener Tutorial

Creating a Table in Scrivener

I was notified by a faithful reader and friend that I’m due for a Scrivener tutorial, and the topic to be addressed is how to create a table.

This all came about in a discussion about importing new templates into Scrivener. Denise, the above mentioned friend and reader, kept piping about how fast and easy it is to create tables in Scrivener. And she’s right; the one I created took me less than one minute.

For the purpose of this tutorial I’ll focus on the tables that many writers create modeled after the one in Debra Dixon’s book, Goal, Motivation, Conflict:  Go to Format=>Table=>Table. A window will appear where you can set how many rows, columns that you’ll need for this specific table.

The table that appears has a default of three columns and two rows with a black border, but this can be adjusted.

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 9.02.39 AM

For my Goal, Motivation, and Conflict table that is geared for my characters’ overall story, I’ve created one with four columns and six rows:

Creating a Table

As you can see my table’s borders are a light gray the one above is black, which is the default. If I want to change the color of the border or the line density, I can change it by highlighting the table and go to the Cell Border option found in the pop-up window. If I want to change the color in the cell background, highlight the cells and select in Cell Background “color fill,” click on the pane with the color (it’s white)  and the color menu will pop-up. To center and bold, just use the regular formatting options in the toolbar.

Now the question is why do you want to create a table if you’re writing a novel?  That’s for another post on the many organizational tools you can use in managing your characters, plot and subplots, and individual scenes.



Creating a Filing Cabinet in Scrivener

The one reason I chose to draft all my writing in Scrivener was so I could keep my projects better organized. When I was using MS Word, I had numerous documents and no matter how careful I was labeling the file, I always managed to submit the wrong version of an article or I couldn’t find the recently revised document in my files. With Scrivener I like that I can have all my information—drafts, notes, and research—in one place, and that it’s easy to find.

Yet old habits tend to die hard. I’ve discovered that I now have too many Scrivener projects, especially for Julius. Because I use Scrivener for all my writing, I typically have a number of projects open, but that has become  somewhat clunky and messy. For some time I’ve known that I had to streamline it, but wasn’t sure how to go about it until I came across a tweet of how social media guru Michael Hyatt uses Scrivener. I was so impressed by how beautifully he organized all his writing projects that I thought I would give his method a shot.

At first I thought I would dedicate “The File Cabinet” to all my freelance writing projects and so I imported them all in, changed the icons (because you all know I like to make things look pretty). After I imported everything, I figured I would import the recent version ofJulius and hope that all my research smoothly made the transition. Happily, it did. So now I officially have a filing cabinet where I don’t have numerous Scrivener projects open. Just one click and, BAM, it’s all in one project.

Importing from one Scrivener project into another is simple and seamless. The only thing you need to do is go to File->Import->Scrivener Project. What gets imported is the file for the project along with the research and trash files. I ditched the latter two and set up my file cabinet to look like this (click on the image to enlarge):

File Cabinet

I have Julius at the end next to the research file so I can quickly search through that material. I’ve also created another research folder for the other writing projects. And there you have it–an easy way to keep all your work organized!



Introduction to Scapple

Literature & Latte, the creators of Scrivener, have a new product called Scapple. When you first take a look at it, you might consider it a mind-mapping software, but it really isn’t. Essentially it’s a virtual piece of paper that allows you to jot down notes during a brainstorming session. The notes can be moved around, resized, linked, or deleted. You never have to worry about running out of space because the virtual paper fits as many notes as you need. I’m currently playing around with it and here is a sample of how it looks:

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 2.12.12 PM

If you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see this is a somewhat linear way of thinking. It’s not all over the place because I’m still getting used to the program. But I provided a sample of what can be done. I started out with columns, and tend to put stars by my key points, but in this case I put them in two dark, red jagged boxes. I’ve also enlarged the font and bolded it. Questions are circled in dark blue. I’ve linked some of the possible relationships with a dotted line, a two headed arrow and a solid line. As I become more comfortable with the software, I’m sure I’ll get more creative with the brainstorming and feel less restricted with the thought process.

In the next few days, I’ll provide a tutorial on how it works and how you can export it into your Scrivener project. In the meantime you can view a video that provides a good visual overview. Scapple is available for Mac only; you can give it a test drive for 30 days. To purchase, you can either get it on the Literature & Latte site or at the App Store.



Full-Screen Composition Mode

There are days  that I feel that I have to isolate myself from all distractions when I write. Typically that means shutting myself in the bedroom with my noise reduction headphones and pray I have no dogs going crazy over the sound of my neighbor’s mower, saws, and weed whackers.

Because we are in the dead of winter it’s pretty quiet right now and the only distractions I really have to deal with are my own self-inflicted ones—checking email, commenting on Facebook, surfing the web, and getting coffee refills. But once I’ve decided to really focus on my assigned task, I’m pretty good at tuning out the noises, turning on Antisocial, and just write. Well, sometimes I get distracted by Scrivener’s screen. I move things in the binder, I play around with the folder colors, I resize the screen. In other words, I  procrastinate. When I’m done with this fiddling around and really, really don’t want to be distracted from writing, I use Scrivener’s Full Screen Composition feature.

Once I’m in this mode, it’s just me, a black background, and a white sheet of paper. There’s no binder, no editor, no icons, no distractions (with the exception of the Jack Russell terrier who is whining to get attention).

But the beauty of Full Screen Composition is that all the other features like the binder and the sub-features of the Inspector are still accessible. That means you don’t have to switch back and forth between screens. And if you like playing around with the look of your distraction-free screen, you can customize it to look exactly the way you want it.

So… let’s get to the very basics. From the binder, select a document or create a new one. Go to View and choose Enter Full Screen, or just hit the button on the toolbar that has two arrows set diagonally and pointing to each other.

This is what you get:

Screen Shot 1

The default background is black; you’ll notice down at the bottom the control strip bar. This hides itself so you can have 100 percent zero distraction. Let’s take a closer look at the control strip and see what it can do (you can click on the image above for a larger view).

First off, on the extreme left, you’ll see Text Scale. This means that you can make the print as small or as big as you want it. I like it at 150 percent. Next is the Paper Position, which you can shift to the left, the right, or keep it at it’s default center position. If you don’t want to see any of the black background, you can widen the page or conversely make narrow it, by using the Paper Width feature. I keep it that the default, which is the standard paper width. Here’s a neat trick: if you want to change the height of the paper, hit option and Paper Width switches over to Paper Height. Using the slider, you can adjust it to whatever height (or width) you like.

Now we get into the nitty gritty functions that are included in the Inspector, like Keywords. Click on the icon, and a small (and adjustable) panel appears. You can add your keywords and move the panel wherever you like on the screen if you wish to keep it open.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.01.28 AM

There’s also the option to open the Inspector. When you click on that, another panel will open (again, adjustable and moveable) An aside: if you do adjust the size and move it to a different spot on the screen and later close it, Scrivener remembers the settings the next time you open it. You’ll see in this panel, the drop down menus that include all the options from the Inspector.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.11.52 AM

If you want to look at another document, you don’t have to switch back to the screen that shows the binder. Just click on the Go Toicon and you can select a different document.

With Words/Character Count, you won’t be left in the dark of how much (or little) you’ve written.  You’ll always know whether you reached your daily goal or not.

Lastly, there’s Background Fade. Here you can control the transparency of the background by moving the slider.

To exit Full Composition Mode, you can either hit the ESC key or the two arrow button on the extreme right.

And there are the basics for Full Composition Mode. Next time, I’ll show how to personalize the screen and other neat tricks.



Split Screen

I was planning a different entry for today, but I see that most of my new readers and my faithful subscribers seem to want more posts that are informative and less about my perspective about the writing life and personal musings. Although Requiem for a Giant Flemish Rabbit was quite popular and it even inspired a subscriber/Facebook friend to adopt a three-month old bunny in memory of Mr. Cole. I admit when she wrote me about her new addition it felt great that my words had some influence (and yes, that was a bit of shameless promotion  to pique your curiosity if you haven’t read the post).

Today’s post has to do with Split Screen Mode. It’s a feature I use on an almost daily basis. Prior to making the discovery, I was going about it the old-fashioned way of resizing a window in another program and resizing Scrivener so I could view two different documents at the same time.

With Split Screen mode you can divide the Editor screen into two different panes. It’s easy and painless (no pun intended). Each pane works independently of each other. If you need to change settings on one pane, no need to worry that it will switch the settings in the other one. For example, let’s say that you’ve imported a document (NOTE: this only works with text documents, not PDFs or web pages—at least that’s what I noticed) and you discover the print is a tad too small to read, you can change the text scale in one pane and it doesn’t affect the second one. Split Screen mode also remembers the settings of each pane and you don’t have to fiddle with them the next time you use this option.

How do I use Split Screen? I write the email blast for HAND/EYE Magazine, and summarize four articles featured that week in the online issue. I have the letter open in one pane, and in the second one the article that I’m trying to summarize. I also use Split Screen when I’m writing and reviewing my research notes, or reviewing two different chapters to see how the transitions work, or incorporating notes from one version of a document into another.

To activate Split Screen, select a document in the binder, which will appear in the Editor. Click on the split toggle screen icon that’s next to the two up/down arrows to the right of the pane header. The pane with the blue header bar is the one that’s active and the inactive pane is a light gray. To open another document, click on the inactive pane to make it active, go to the binder and select the text you want to view. Just an FYI, if you have the Inspector open, the synopsis, the data section and the document notes will also correspond the active pane.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 7.40.48 PM

Here’s a neat trick—say you want to work on one document, like that email blast I write. I tend to forget which is my active pane and I end up closing that document when I switch to view the next document. If you know that you’re working on a document, but just viewing others, you can lock that pane by clicking on the document icon in the pane header that’s on the left.  A drop menu will appear and at the bottom you’ll see “Lock in Place.” Once it’s locked, the pane header will turn a pink/salmon color.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 7.53.12 PM

If you don’t like the horizontal panes and prefer vertical, hit Option and click on the split toggle button. You can also resize the panes by dragging the sizing handle that’s between the two panes (it’s a very light gray).

The beauty of Split Screen is that it’s not exclusive to text documents. You can view your corkboard, the outliner, or an image (you can see in the example below that the top pane is locked by the pinkish pane header.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 8.14.23 PM

That’s a brief rundown of how I use Split Screen. If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to get back to you. Or even better, and I strongly urge this, purchase Scrivener For Dummies by Gwen Hernandez. It’s a valuable reference book that you will use often. Guaranteed.


Stacked Corkboards

I promised several months ago to provide a tutorial on stacked corkboards, but abandoned the series after the publication of Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez. I  figured you all would order a copy. That’s what I did in case I needed help. But I see from my visitor statistics that my Scrivener tutorials are popular so I thought it was time to post another tutorial. These will pop up sporadically, and if you have questions about a certain feature please let me know in the comments section.

The purpose of stacked corkboard is to view more than one corkboard at a time. They’re useful when you want to see the contents of more than one folder like a number of chapters or parts of a manuscript. I think stacked corkboards are ideal, for example, if you’ve created an editorial calendar for a newsletter, a blog, or a magazine. For instance, let’s say I’ve planned articles for every month, but now I want to see them in their respective corkboards and fiddle around with them. You can do this because in stacked corkboards you can move around the cards from one board to another (and you’ll also see this reflected in the binder). If I want to move some articles from March into June, I can easily drag them from the March clorkboard to the June corkboard. An important factor to note—stacked corkboards are only available in linear mode. If you’re the using free form corkboard, and you make your folder selections, it will automatically default to the linear mode.

To activate the stacked corkboard function, you can select more than one folder using Cmd-click for Mac; ctrl-click for Windows. I selected three folders and it looks like this in the binder:

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 2.42.37 PM

Each corkboard is displayed with a line between them and they’re are shaded differently. Like so:

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 7.36.20 PM

You can play around with the card arrangement in either rows, columns or wrapped, which can be selected at the bottom right-hand corner:

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 7.36.41 PM


I prefer the column format:

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 7.39.37 PM

If you want, you can also number the cards in each corkboard. Go to View => Corkboard Options =>Number Per Section. If you decide that you want to add another article for one of the months selected without leaving the corkboard, just hit the Add button in the tool bar.

And there you have it!


Rock Your Plot, Scrivener for Dummies and a Template

Let me start with a confession: my Spanish Civil War reading came to a complete halt last month. In spite of my good intentions of getting readers interested in the subject, I was sidetracked with a big work project.

I was assigned six articles to write for a trade show we’re attending later this month, and as part of a sponsorship arrangement that we have with the show’s management group, another writer and I had to write about several artisan groups that will be exhibiting their products. The writing wasn’t difficult, but the research was time-consuming.

During the off-hours that I wasn’t writing, I was attempting to work through Cathy Yardley’s bookRock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel (Rock Your Writing). What I love about this book is that Cathy read through several books on plotting and condensed everything she learned into a very user-friendly guide. Her examples are generic, which I found useful because sometimes I’m intimidated by the complicated examples used from well known authors. I want to learn the very basics and once I have an understanding of the process, then get into the breakdown of how an experienced writer develops his own plotting decisions.

Now that I have the next two weeks of vacation I can start again, but this time I’ll be using her workbook to guide me through my plotting issues. To be accurate, I won’t be using her book. Instead, I’ll be working from a template I created in Scrivener that’s based on her workbook. What gave me the idea to do this was Gwen Hernandez’snew bookScrivener For Dummies.

Last year I took Gwen’s online class and kept all my notes; truth be told, I wished that there had been a reference book that went with the class so that I could always keep it on hand. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who wanted a good instructional book. The good folks at Wiley approached Gwen, and, in what seems little time, they put together a Scrivener for Dummies book. I received it last night, and just like the class, it is worth every penny.

Because I am a dork and like to play around with software, I happened to read the chapter on creating customized project templates, and I thought that it would be a good exercise to create a template–one I can use for every writing project, Before I embarked on this, I download other writer’s templates  to see how they approached the outlining process. I liked Larry Brooks’ Beat Sheet Template, as well as the Hero’s Journey, but I wanted to create my own, and here it is, based on Cathy’s workbook: Rock Your Plot. Feel free to download it, and let me know if it’s helpful. I recommend that you purchase the book, it’s available on Amazon as a Kindle publication. If you have questions about anything related to Scrivener, get Gwen’s book or leave a comment.

Addendum: It’s been brought to my attention that when the Rock Your Plot link is downloaded you get the following message: 

Somehow I managed to zip it while Scrivener was still open. For you to use it, please hit “Make a Copy” and you’ll be good to go. In the meantime, I’ll figure out how to zip and share without getting any funky messages. Perhaps Scrivener guru Gwen Hernandez might know.


Exporting Files

Back in November, I wrote about how you can import mindmaps into Scrivener and how simple the process was. Today, I take a look at exporting a text file.

Every week I have to get HAND/EYE Magazine’s online issue ready. I have my articles placed in its appropriate folder and then I either write or edit the article in Scrivener. Before I used the exporting feature, I would open Word, go back to Scrivener, copy and paste the article back into Word. Why I did this is a mystery. Perhaps, I didn’t trust the technology or maybe I just thought I had to go through the process of compiling, which I have not mastered at all. But I didn’t want to compile the articles into one large document and then have to break them up. So I got to thinking that if I could import individual files into Scrivener, could I possibly export them to a Word file that would already be formatted? The only way I would know was to try it.

And the process is simple. Here are the steps (no graphics for this):

1. Select the document you want to export from the Binder.

2. Go to File and select Export

3. At Export, select Files

When you click on Files a window will pop open (picture time, click on image for larger view) that looks like this:

You can change the name of the document, select where you want to export to and it in what format you want it. I always select Word and I usually have in Favorites a folder dedicated for articles for that week. You also have several options to include notes for that document, snapshots, meta-data, comments and annotations and selected files.

Once it’s exported, the document is already formatted and you’re done. Easy as pie.



The Freeform Corkboard

I’m a bit off since I took Wednesday off, so this post is a Belated Scrivener Saturday.

Apart from planning, outlining and writing Julius in Scrivener, I also use it for this blog and for organizing the online content forHAND/EYE Magazine.

This is how my binder looks for the HAND/EYE Scrivener project:

I recently started to play around with the freeform corkboard. With this feature, I can place my index cards wherever I like and I can also customize the background.

To use the freeform corkboard, you can access it by clicking the icon that looks like stacked cards at the bottom of the page.

You can arrange them in any order that you like. You’ll notice that however the order is changed, the order of the folders remain the same. If you want to change the size of the cards, click on the icon to the right of the stacked card icon and from there window will open and you can fiddle with the size.


Once you’ve determined how you want to order the cards, click on the Commit Order and a window will open that provides options for how the program interprets your layout. Under Start click whichever option is appropriate (I chose “Top” and the same with under Order From (I chose “Right to Left”) You’ll see that your cards have been reordered in the binder.

If you don’t like the default cork board background or the font, you can change that to suit your sense of aesthetics. To make the change go to the file menu click on “Scrivener” scroll down to “Preferences” and select the corkboard icon.

You can customize the background by going to the “Freeform Background” select “Custom Color” or “Custom Background.” If you select Custom Color, the box of crayons will pop up or you can play with the color wheel option. For Custom Background, you can select any photo that you have on file on your Mac. Here’s how mine looks using a custom color.

Next week, we’ll  learn all about stacked corkboards.



Scrivener Saturday: The Research Folder

As I’ve noted in a number of posts, I am a fanatic about research.  Before I had Scrivener, I had many files scattered like land mines in my Julius file.

This post deals less with the techy side of the program, but how I organize my research so that it is at my fingertips all the time. This way I don’t have to be flipping back and forth through my files,Evernote, or my bookmarked pages on my browser.

As you can see–click on the image, it will open to another window and it will be larger–I like to play around with my icons. I tint the folders and I change the look of the icons. In a previous post, I showed how to change the icons, but I’ll save you the trouble to find that post and show you again:

To change the icon, point your curser on a folder and right-click; go to Change Icon. From the list choose whichever icon suits your need.

I’ve chosen numerous icons to distinguish each folder to avoid confusion. The conversation bubble folder has my elevator pitch; the clapper board holds my unused scenes. The picture icon folder has all the details of my characters; and the map folder has all the locales where Julius takes place.

I’ve added three more folders and that’s from the research I’ve culled from the internet and other places. I selected the book icons for Marx and Russell Kirk. For any news articles about the financial crisis I selected the bar graph.

I also have a number of To Do tasks in the research folder and you can see I’ve selected the check mark icon. This file includes the templates for the synopsis in various formats, i.e., four page summary, two page, one paragraph, and so on, as well character synopsis.

The remaining two folders are from Scrivener’s template, which provides template sheets for a character and setting sketch; the sample output includes samples of how a manuscript is formatted for a novel, paperback, and e-book.

Scrivener allows you to import web pages, text files, photos and even videos within the binder. I’ve imported photographs of how my characters look like and numerous photos of where certain scenes take place. An important thing to note is that Scrivener makes a copy of the file. Your original file is still in its folder that you saved within your files and the copy or photo remains untouched.

To import from the Internet, select Research. From the File Menu, select Web Page.  In the address box, type in the URL. In the Title box, type the subject of your research. Click okay.

The imported page appears in the research folder with a Web icon. Click on it to view it in the editor pane. If the page is updated, you won’t see any changes, but the hyperlinks work.

Let’s say I want to import a photo from my Macbook Pro’s Finder files. Once again, go to File Menu, select Import, but this time choose Files. A window will drop down showing your finder’s files, select any file you want and then hit Import.

In this case, I selected a photo and as you can see in the editor pane that I’ve typed notes about this specific photograph and its part in the story.

On the corkboard it looks like this along with the index cards that summarize the setting sketch:

For articles that come from the web, I prefer to turn them into PDFs instead of having the web pages. It’s easier to manipulate, especially if articles from newspapers run over to more than one page. When I’m referring to these articles, I use Scrivener’s nifty split screen feature, but I’ll leave that for next week’s lesson.

So that’s how I organize my research using Scrivener. Feel free to share how you organize your own research.


Scrivener Saturday: Changing and Tinting Icons

I’m in the process of reworking my novel and one of the key changes I’ve made is a switch to multiple points of view. Originally the story was told in the first-person with only one point of view. Now, I’ve switched it to the third person with at least four viewpoints. The switching back and forth can get confusing and the best way to keep track of these  is to color code the text or chapter icons in the binder.

But before we get into the process of changing colors and making the binder look like a rainbow, let’s get into the variety of icons you see in the binder for this specific project: Julius Rewrite. As you can see, I’ve already customized this a bit, but I’ll take you through the process. In the binder I have the following:

  • A manuscript icon that includes several folders with files in them.
  • A research icon with more folders
  • Trash can

You’ll notice that the chapter folders are tinted orange, which is the color I use for chapters, and the files in each folder are also tinted, which signifies whose point of view I’m writing. For Chapter 1, I’ve written the same chapter but in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. The tinted turquoise file appears to be the one I am favoring. But what about the others–do I trash them or do I tuck them away in another folder?

Considering how many changes I’ve made and how often I go back and forth. It’s probably a good idea to keep them in a new folder and call that “Unused Scenes.” To create a new folder, click the blank area below trash can which will deselect any highlighted folders. At the bottom of the binder click the icon that looks like a folder with the + sign. Drag the new folder into the research area, above Major Characters, and label it as “Unused Scenes.” So now it looks like this:


Let’s say you want to change this blue folder into a different icon:

  • Right click on the folder and select Change Icon (or go to the bottom of the binder and click on the gear icon).
  • From the menu of icons offered select whichever one catches your eye. I chose the clapper icon. This is how it now looks:


To tint the icons, you need to  fiddle around with the meta-data settings.  Right click on the folder’s label you want to tint. From the list select Label and choose the appropriate one.


If you don’t have any labels, you can go to Edit and set them up. Once you hit edit, the meta-data settings window will open (click on the image to see a larger version). To make a label, click on the + icon at the bottom on the Meta-Data Settings page. A colored box will appear and next to it an empty field to type in the label name. To change the color of the box, double click on that and the box of crayons will open up to select a new color. Close the box of crayons and the Meta-Data Settings.


To tint the icons, right click the folder you want to tint. From the list choose Label and you’ll see all your new labels. For this example, I am tinting Chapter 4 Orange and the file a reddish brown which is the appointed color for Douglas’s POV. And now my binder looks like this:

Give it a go and if you have any questions, just leave a comment and I will reply. Next week, we’ll cover in more detail Meta-Data.


Importing Mind Maps to Scrivener

It’s been several months that I’ve had a Scrivener Saturday and now that I’m fooling around more the with the Mac version, I’ll add some discoveries that I think are useful, especially if there’s other software that might be compatible with Scrivener.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been playing around with two mind mapping programs recently and the one I seem to favor isSimpleMind (also available for Windows. Price $30.99 for Mac version). What I like about the program is the fast learning curve and it is easy to use. Yet the best feature of using both programs is the ability to export it to Scrivener.

I won’t get into all the features of SimpleMind, but below is an example of what the map looks like when I was working out Jake’s character traits. Note: To see larger versions of the images, click on each one. It will open up in a different window.

Once I had the map complete, I saved the map as a PDF on my desktop as well as an OPML file. From Scrivener, I imported both to my current Julius project (go to File=>Import=>Files). As you can see, the OPML files–once imported–appear in the binder as RTF files. Here, I’ll be able to go into further detail to flesh out Jake’s personality as well as his inner and outer conflicts.

Mind mapping is an interesting way to outline especially if you’re very visual and tend to like word association. Once I have all the different characters’ traits down, I’ll start with chapter outlines using mind maps and see how well they work with plotting.

Do you use mind maps? How detailed do you make your mind maps and have you found them useful as an outlining tool?  



I’ve been remiss on my Scrivener Saturday posts in part because I was waiting to see what new and updated features we’d get for each new beta version. Thanks to all the hard work from Lee at Literature and Latte, we have all sorts of spiffed up features.

However, today it’s all about meta-data, specifically, keywords So what the hell is meta-data? In simple English, courtesy of

Meta-data describes other data. It provides information about a certain item’s content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document’s metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document.

Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags. Description and keywords meta tags are commonly used to describe the Web page’s content. Most search engines use this data when adding pages to their search index.

In Scrivener there are several ways you can input you meta-data. But for today let’s just examine keywords

  1. In the  Inspector, at the bottom, you’ll note a series of icons one them is a key, which unlocks the section to add keywords and descriptions. I can either type it in or I can hit Ctrl and drag the word into the section.

Every time, I enter a keyword, it appears in the Keyword HUD, which essentially a repository of all the keywords in Julius. This HUD can be accessed from the toolbar and it’s a key with colored bullets running down the side.  I can also add keywords directly into the HUD by clicking the add keyword icon at the bottom of the HUD panel.

Why are keywords important? Let’s say, using Julius as an example, that I recently read something about Max Eastman and it turns out what I wrote was wrong and Max Eastman is mentioned in several chapters. I can do a search and type in Max’s name in the search tool or I can go to the HUD, highlight his name with my mouse and hit search. This is the outcome:



The binder is replaced with a Project Search Results that lists the chapter where Max Eastman’s name appears and in the text, his name is highlighted in yellow. One discovery I made is that the HUD panel  floats so I can move it around.

The beauty of the HUD is that you can manage your keywords. Let’s say that I decided to delete a name or word in the HUD, it will also be deleted from all the documents it’s been assigned to. You can get creative with keywords,and the Scrivener manual notes that they can be used for plot management and status management. In the HUD, you can color-code your keywords, a nice feature if you’re a super visual person.

More meta-data posts to come….



There have been several posts concerning formatting on Literature and Latte’s Scrivener for Windows forum. Several people commented about margins, fonts, and line spacing not saving. Again, a reminder, this is still in beta and the bugs are still in the process of getting zapped.

But some folks who have taken upon themselves to play around with the software, and who are not Lit & Lat employees, have provided a lot of feedback on how to get your margins to stay put.

I have to comment that for some reason all the betas have not given me any problem at all with the exception of margins. During one of my many rounds of revisions for Julius, I had to fix the margins a number of times and each fix never saved. I finally had enough and wrote a note on the forum and one of the members said to move the top ruler marker to where I wanted to set it and that would solve the problem. Lo and behold, it did.

The current 1.55 Beta now has line spacing and it works pretty much the same as it does on Word, but what if the document you imported is completely screwed up.  How can you fix it? The fastest way is to hit Ctrl+A that will highlight everything. Move the top ruler mark to set your margins, and in the formatting toolbar choose the font you like and the point size.

But the line spacing is still screwed up? Here’s the secret to fix that: click on the line space tab then click on “Other Spacing.” You’ll have to fool with it to find the parameters that you want to set, but once you’ve determined how you want it (I like 1.5 line spacing), your line spacing will be set and it will be saved.

You’ll have to do this for every document that you import, but if you create a new text file, all your formatting parameters will be set and saved.

Another way to go about it is to use the menu bar. Go to Edit, click on it, from there go to Options and click on that.

Scroll through until you reach editor and from there set your margins, fonts, point size and line spacing, again you can go into Other Spacing and type in your parameters.

Hit “Apply” and you’re set!

Coming up meta-data…


The Scratch Pad

It’s been several weeks that I’ve actually have had anytime to do a Scrivener Saturday, but I put off the tutorial because I wanted to wait for the latest iteration of the Beta version so I could play around with some features. My plan was to write about the outliner mode, but a feature popped out at me that I love and want to share with you today.

I read the forums everyday and for the most part, many of the bugs people have written about I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing them. When I see a topic that’s of interest, I check out what the problem is then open my version of Scrivener and see if I have the same bug. About 98 percent of the time I don’t, which is good for two reasons. One, I seem to have a system that tolerates the Beta versions; and two, I learn about other features within the program.

The feature I discovered recently was the “Scratch Pad.” At first I thought it was a little redundant because of the document and project notes that’s in the Inspector section, but it wasn’t after I read the forum post that I understood the the overall function.

The purpose is that if you’re working away on another project and you suddenly get an inspiration you can jot it down. The beauty of the scratch pad is that it stays open all the time. So if I’m not in Scrivener, but fiddling around with an email or a thread on Facebook, that Scratch Pad is always in the background in an unobtrusive manner—a ghostlike image. Once I click on the apparition, it opens and I can type my quick thought. Now the folks at Literature &Latte did an even better one with the Scratch Pad, they added a little feature that you can send the text into your project. Just click on the button that says “Send to Project” and you can copy the notes to either the document the section you want it in or in research. You also have the option to select just a section of the note and send it to your project.

Where do you find this dandy feature? Just go to the menu bar to Window and you’ll see “Scratch Pad”. Or you can type in the shortcut, “Ctrl+/” And there you have it!

What does it look like?

And how does the ghost like feature look like in another program?

No more lost thoughts, no more writing on napkins or the back of envelopes, or on Post-its that fall off or get lost. Just keep the Scratch Pad open and jot away!

Next week it’s all about formatting!


The Corkboard

The day has come that we all learn about the corkboard. Once again, let me remind you that I’m currently working on a beta version and it’s still a little buggy, but I’ll show you the very essentials and what I’ve done with the corkboard for The Wilde Solution.

This how my workspace looks with The Wilde Solution. You’ll notice in the binder that I have chapter files in the draft section, my character and location templates in research as well as some web pages I’ve imported. Since I have the first chapter highlighted this is what you see when I have the corkboard icon selected. Where are the index cards? Because I write whole chapters and not individual scenes, there are no cards, but we’ll get to those shortly.

When I hit the Inspector (blue circle with the letter “I”) I open up a section that shows a synopsis,general and document notes.


Click on Synopsis and what you’ll discover is an index card. Like so:


The index card is typically blank, but if you want to want to write a summary of the chapter, double click on it and type in your chapter summary, or if you want the first sentence of the chapter click on the small box on the extreme right and it will automatically type in the first sentence.

Next, hit the the “General” tab and you see that you have the option to label the draft, give it a status, plus know when it was created and/or modified.As well as three options: Included in draft, page before, and compile as-is (we’ll get to those another time.)


For the labels you have choices and since these are chapters I labeled them as such and color coded it the chapter with a pink tack, it’s status is first draft, and again there are choices, like revision, final, complete or you can edit it choose something else.

I deselected the Inspector, clicked on chapters in my binder and you can see on the cork board all the chapters pinned to the board.


The beauty of the corkboard is that I can reorder the chapters and move them around. When you reorder them, they’re also changed in the binder. This is ideal if you write actually break down the chapters into scenes and decide that one scene works best in another chapter.

Cards can be changed in the way they look, size, font, and how far spaced they are. To do this, click on the box box in the extreme right (it has four tiny squares) and you’ll see a pop up box with Corkboard Tools:


You can make your adjustment here or you can go to to edit>>>options>>>corkboard and fiddle around the appearance, type face and so forth.

That’s it for today. Next week, we’ll get into the outliner mode. Off to do some writing!


Scrivener Basics

It’s been five days since I’ve downloaded the BETA Windows version of Scrivener and I am loving it! I’ve organized my HAND/EYE articles in such a neat order that I can’t imagine how I wrote and kept myself organized (I didn’t). Last night, I planned next week’s issue all in one afternoon, and I have the next four weeks in the works!

Today, I thought I would go over the basics. I’ll use as “The House of Sages” essay and an example of how to set it up. However, If you don’t have the Beta version, I suggest you take a visit to Literature & Latte and download the Beta version.

Once it’s installed and you open the program you’ll find this page: Open New Scrivener Project


As you can see, there are a number of templates you can choose from. When I wrote the House of Sages, it was supposed to for a series of essays so it would fall under Non-fiction, but it’s not live yet, so let’s select “Blank” and name the template Essays. Once it’s named the “create” button becomes active and I’m on my way.

Now I have this screen:


What you see on the left-hand side are the main elements of the Binder and these consist of the Draft, Research, andTrash. On the right is the Editor where you’ll be typing all your text. On top are the various icons and headers, which I’ll go into detail on another day, but if you’re computer literate, you can figure them out and play around with them. The blue circle with the I is called the Inspector and that’s where you going to find a lot of the fun stuff in the program (and it’s easy to use”).  In the center, is a box with three icons: text, corkboard, and outline modes. Click on those and you’ll see the switch.

So let’s just get into more detail about the binder. The section that says Draft will hold and list your different text files or essays. If you want to rename it, just right-click on it and rename. I renamed it as “Life on the Lower East Side.”  beneath it is an untitled document. If you already have a title for the essay your working on, again, rename it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll see in the Editor that it has the new title.

If the essay is already written, you can import it, but since this version of the Beta is still glitchy, your best bet is to copy and paste it. However, if you insist on importing (and it seems to be working now, since I just tried it). Go to File, hit import and it will open up a directory. of your files. One key thing to remember, change your text to RTF (It’s supposed to import .doc and .docx, unless that’s been fixed too) before you import it. Once that’s done, hit import and voila! You know have your very first text in Scrivener, and it looks like this:


If you want to make edits, just treat it the same way as you would with Word. You can change the font, the type size and so forth. This current version doesn’t have line spacing, but it will be included in the next iteration.

Now you have this text, but you may want to do more research on the topic. In the research section, you can import Web pages, PDFs, and photos. So let’s add a folder that says LES Research. Highlight Research, and go to the big green icon with the plus sign, hit the arrow mark and hit “New Folder.” Once you have it, you can rename it. Let’s say, I want to import a Google Maps webpage. I go to file, hit import, and click Web Page. A box will open prompting you for the URL and you can give it a name. Like so:


Once it loads, the page will look like this:


Let’s say that I want to work from that web file and quote directly from it, but I don’t want to go back and forth between that file and my text. To the extreme right of the title, you see a pane splitter with a vertical and horizontal option. Go to your text, hit the horizontal icon, then go back to Research, click on your imported web page, and voila:


You can resize the panes, scroll down and find the information you need, then go back up to your text and reference. Easy as pie. One thing to note, this is a Beta so SAVE often. Scrivener saves every two seconds on default, but it can’t hurt to save it again and have a backup.

That’s all for today. Wait!! What about the famous corkboard function? Patience friends, that’s for next week. Or just play around with it. If I can figure it out, so can you.


HI Rebecca,

I just joined Scrivener and am having some difficulties in sharing files with my partner - I have tried just about everything suggested but nothing seems to work (mac to Mac) I've tried downloading some files from the binder under drafts - to dropbox but the files show up empty in drop box - I've tried "" and am having problems there as well - sending files back and forth - we both have Scrivener accounts - what would be ideal is for him to be able to see what I've done on the project and edit within the project - is there anyone out there willing to give me a hand? Much appreciated. 

RebecaSchiller moderator

Gillian, Thanks so much for visiting! No, the novel isn't finished. I'm hoping this year I'll be done. I'll keep everyone posted when it's finito and if I acquire an agent or go the Indie way.


Thank you so much, Rebecca for sharing your Scrivener learning with all of us! I had looked at your site a while ago and thought it was for Mac users only. When I found your site again today, I started to read and it was so interesting I kept moving through the explanations - then I realized you have Windows explanations and examples, too! (Many people must find your site valuable b/c it comes up in many searches I do for explanations about Scrivener.) Also, the inadvertent display of your own novel makes me want to read all of it! I'm going to Amazon right now to see if you've published it.


Thanks for the tutorials. I enjoyed them a great deal. 


I am blown away by your Scrivener info - the time and the smarts are amazing - talk about work !  Holy Moly !

Anyway - I will be using your info a lot since I am even having trouble with Scriver for Dummies (how embarrassing !)  so many many many thanks.


Very nice tutorial
Why don't you post it on the Windows bug report forum at literature & latte?
I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated


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