how to use scrivener

Scrivener Tips: The Scratch Pad

This is another Scrivener Tip from Writer’s in the Grove. We will be presenting a series of Scrivener workshops soon in Forest Grove, Oregon. Until then, or after, if you have a question about how to use Scrivener, let us know and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Scrivener - Scratch Pad on Tools Menu - Writers in the Grove.Ever get a new idea, a bit of inspiration, as you are writing? I used to turn to a piece of paper or sticky note to jot down my idea, but found that by the time I made the note and switched back to my writing program, I’ve lost track of what I’m writing. Moving my eyes from the computer screen and fingers from the keyboard invites distraction. Luckily, Scrivener offers a way to make notes and keep on writing.

The Scrivener Scratch Pad is built into Scrivener and can be accessed by:

  • Windows: Tools > Scratch Pad or CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+P

You can add a note to it quickly with a mouse from within the Scratch Pad window. Click the T for Text in the bottom left corner to create a new note and start typing.

Scrivener Scratch Pad - examples - Writers in the Grove.

You can add as many notes as you wish in the Scratch Pad.

You can send the note to Scrivener later as the start of a new plot shift or poem.

  1. Select the note.
  2. Click Send file to Scrivener.

Two options will appear to either copy it to a specific file or new one, or append text to another text, adding it to the bottom. You can also select a portion of the note and send just the selected text.

One of the cool things about the Scratch Pad in Scrivener is that the notes persist between projects. You can make notes on other projects that pop into your head or you discover while researching another project. Think of all the ways you can use the Scratch Pad in Scrivener to deal with these thoughts while staying focused on the task at hand.

For more tips, see “Using the Scratch Pad in Scrivener” by The Digital Researcher, and the following:


Scrivener: Printing Your Manuscript

Scrivener_-_Compile_Contents_ScreenThe process of printing a manuscript in Scrivener is called compiling. It represents the power in Scrivener to literally compile your writing how you wish it to appear in print or in a digital file for the next steps in preparing your book for publishing.

In one of my Scrivener projects, I have 6 versions of a book I’m working on.

  • The original draft
  • Second and third drafts
  • A copy edited version returned from a copy editor
  • The cleaned up version of that copy editor
  • Another version with alpha reader edits added

I could have even more versions, and at any time along the process of writing I could print out any of these versions for posterity, or go back to an earlier version to find out why I wrote it that way or what an editor had to say, or restore an edited version to one of the original versions, all within the same project file.

When it comes time to print these versions, or the final glorified version of my manuscript, it begins with a compilation process as I choose which documents to include or exclude from the version I’m creating – or, in Scrivener language, compiling.

Remember, as discussed in the tutorial on how to format your manuscript for writing, what appears on the screen may be different what the final version prints. (more…)

Scrivener: Import Documents and Files

Throughout this ongoing series on Scrivener so far, you’ve been experimenting with a blank project. I highly recommend my students learn first with a blank project so they can screw it up and experiment thoroughly before they start importing their own writing. Few listen. Either way, it’s time to talk about how to import your writing into Scrivener, and practice first on your experimental project.

There are two ways to get your content into Scrivener.

You can copy and paste from your word processor. Take care doing this as it will often bring in code and formatting that you might wish to remove later. You can also import the content directly into Scrivener.

We will cover both methods, but to do this right (or at least wiser), start with formatting a blank Scrivener project.

Remember, importing your writing into Scrivener makes a copy of the original files. It does not modify them. They remain untouched. Save them off your computer in a protected and secure place as backups.

Formatting a New Project

Go to Tools > Options > Editor.

Scrivener - Options - Editor - Interface - Lorelle

This is where you format Scrivener for what you will use on the screen. This is NOT how the document will look when published. Get that thought out of your head immediately.

The Editor creates your writing environment. How do you wish to write? Single spaced lines? Double spaced? Wide margins? Narrow? Indented paragraphs? Not? Large fonts? Serif or sans-serif fonts?

With the Editor, you can set up a writing environment the way you wish to write. When the writing is compiled (exported), you may control the end result there.

Changing the formatting of the Editor is best done before you add your writing. It applies only to new documents, not previous ones. I’ll cover how to fix the older styles and formatting in another tutorial. (more…)

Scrivener: Organizing a Scrivener Project

I don’t know about you and your writing, but I tend to be a disorganized writer that wants to be an organized and disciplined writer. I’ve tried just about every filing system known to modern humans. I’ve experimented with notebooks, file folders, date books, stacks of paper, piles of paper, and even garbage cans filled with paper sorted by topic. The best invention in the world for me was the sticky note. Yet, once I discovered Scrivener, most of those went the way of the real purpose of the garbage cans.

So far in this ongoing series on Scrivener, the powerful writing software tool, we’ve learned about the basic features of Scrivener including the organizational benefits of Scrivener, how to start a blank Scrivener project, how to use the Scrivener Research section in the Binder, and using the split screen feature. This tutorial starts to dive into the organizational capabilities of Scrivener.

As you’ve learned in these tutorials, you can organize Scrivener files into two core sections in the Binder of your blank project: Draft and Research. Inside of the Draft area of the Binder you have folders and text. Folders may have subfolders and text files may have sub text files as well. Let’s start there.

  1. In the Binder, click on Draft.
  2. Click the drop down arrow of the green plus symbol to add a new folder titled Chapter 3.
  3. Click on Chapter 3 folder and add a new text document the same way, naming it Testing 3A.
  4. Click on the Testing 3A file and right click, choose Duplicate to create a copy and title it Testing 3B.
  5. Repeat the process for Testing 3C.

You should now have 3 folders and the newest one should have 3 text files within it.

Scrivener - Add Chapter 3 sections to Blank Project - Lorelle VanFossen

Notice to the right of the title of the folder a number. This number indicates the number of files within the folder. In my example, there are 11 files in Research, and 9 in Draft.

Let’s practice moving things around.

Click and drag 3C to 3B. You should now see a 1 next to 3B indicating there is a subfile under it. (more…)

Scrivener: The Research Binder

In this ongoing series on Scrivener, the powerful writing software tool, so far I’ve given you a basic overview introduction, including a collection of two Scrivener bootcamp videos to help you get started and see the possibilities in the writing program, and talked about the organizational benefits of Scrivener. Continuing with this Scrivener tutorial series, we are going to work on the blank Scrivener project you created in the previous tutorial, and in this tutorial, I want to share with you tips for using the Research section of the Binder and introduce you to the Inspector. In the next in this series, I’ll show you how to use your research with the Split Screen Feature of Scrivener.

As a reminder, Scrivener by Literature and Latte is available as a free trial version and is a deal at the current sale price of USD $40 for Windows and Mac. Compared to Microsoft Office, this is seriously inexpensive and a very powerful writing and editing tool.

Along the left side of Scrivener’s interface is the Binder, your index listing all of the documents, files, notes, writings, etc., within your Scrivener project. Remember, in Scrivener, don’t think of what is in it as a single document like you would with MS Word. Think of it as the binder or file cabinet for your entire writing project(s). Inside of it you will have the draft of the manuscript, your research notes, files, photographs, maps, whatever you need to help you write.

Scrivener - Draft and Research Sections of Binder - Lorelle VanFossen

In the most basic installation of Scrivener using a blank template project, you will have two key sections: Draft and Research. We’ve covered the very basics of creating folders and text files in the Draft section. Let’s explore the Research section. (more…)

Scrivener Basics Workshop July 23, 2015

Lorelle VanFossen is presenting an informal free workshop on Scrivener Basics in her home north of North Plains, Oregon, at 6:30PM on Thursday July 23. For directions, use the comments below, the contact form, or get them at the next Writer’s in the Grove weekly workshops. Carpooling from Forest Grove Senior and Community Center maybe available.

Scrivener Logo and Screenshots from official site

She has already released an ongoing Scrivener series of tutorials, videos, and guides to help you learn more about how Scrivener works. These are the workshop notes as well.

The workshop will cover:

  • Introduction to Scrivener
  • Explain and demonstrate why to use Scrivener for writing
  • How to create a simple project in Scrivener
  • Working with documents and research
  • How to import your writing and writing material into Scrivener
  • Basic tips on how to organize your writing and research in Scrivener

We will go slow as we can but it will help if you watch a few of the videos and read the referenced articles in What is Scrivener, Scrivener: Bootcamp, and Scrivener: Organize Your Writing and Thinking. The latter article will help you get your head around the difference between working with a word processor and Scrivener.

You will be required to bring your laptop with Scrivener installed. If you do not have it, go to Literature and Latte to get Scrivener as a free trial or paid downloadable (or order CD) version. The laptop does not have to be wifi enabled but it helps. You will also need a mouse (trackpad is painful but works), power cords for the laptop, and extra batteries for the mouse.

If you would like to bring food, drinks, and snacks to share, that would be appreciated. We will snack and work as there is much to cover.

To speed up the process, please bring a COPY file of a writing project you are working on (one or more files), pictures, scanned images or documents, and other digital research material you are using for your writing project.

This is a one time event. A follow-up event may be possible, or a class series at the Senior Center this fall if the demand is high enough.

Scrivener: Free How to Use Book

Scrivener - Your Guide to Scrivener The Ultimate Tool for Writers by Nicole Dionisio - book coverYour Guide to Scrivener, the Ultimate Tool for Writers by Nicole Nionisio is available right now with a direct download for Scrivener users for free. Right click on the link and choose to save the file or target as to save this to your computer. You may also copy it to Kindle or an ebook reader if you wish.

This is a step-by-step manual for Scrivener users guiding you through the process. It covers both Mac and Windows versions, though focuses mostly on Mac. There are some differences between the two versions, but less with every new release.

If you would like to buy the book, it is available as an ebook from

Other books available for sale include: