A great program marred by critical flaws in core functionality.

Hello, I made this account to reach out to the developers of this software with some concerns as a customer. I hope the development team sees this feedback and keeps it in mind for future updates. I would much rather use Scrivener than Celtx… But in it’s current state I would much rather use OpenOffice or MsWord than Scrivener.

Let me start by saying there are some things about Scrivener I really like. The project management aspects, cork-board, etc. However once you crack your knuckles and get down to the actual word processing it sometimes feel like the app is fighting against you. (Especially when working on a ‘blank’ project without templates)

I shall simply list my complaints

1. Default margins (lack thereof)

It took me a long time to figure out how to set my default margins (0.5" on either side), By default the right margin is set to infinite and simply wraps words? I don’t know why it is set up like this. I can’t imagine much writing taking place in this app that isn’t intended to be printed on a page. 8.5x11 with 0.5" margins may not be the go-to for novels, but in general it’s a perfectly fine starting place.

Suggestion: Set the default margins to 0.5 (left) and 8 (right) by default

2. Setting the default right margin

The settings window for margins is not wide enough to contain the entire ruler. The handle for setting the margin is off-screen and un-selectable. On top of this, the left and right panel BOTH expand equally when making this window larger, meaning you need to make the settings window huge to get the handle.

Suggestion: The app appears to be made in Java or .Net. Both of these let you ‘glue’ a UI panel so it won’t expand when the window does. The left panel (where you select which settings category to change) does not need to expand.

3. Inconsistency between on-screen text size and what actually prints

So I finally have my margins set up, and I’m happy. Let’s use some dashes ------ to make a line break. Ok cool, so that entire line is dashes. Let’s go to print preview: Wait a minute… why are some of the dashes spilling over to the next line? If the handle for my right margin is set at 8", no wrapping should occur when I print preview, after all, the preview is an 8.5x11 page, and 8" is less than 8.5"
(this is not limited to dash-line-breaks of course, just an easy example)

Suggestion: Please fix this.

4. No page breaks.

This is a big one for screenplay writing. It’s also a big deal when formatting certain documents where you want to make sure content is grouped together on a page without the last couple lines getting shoved down to the next page. It would be nice to (by default) see where each page begins, and ends. It is frustrating to have to print-preview every time I want to see how many pages I have, and how the text is displayed. It also makes formatting next to impossible.

Suggestion: An option to have visible page breaks, rather than one, endless ‘scroll’.

5. Export to MsWord / OpenOffice is glitchy

This one isn’t the biggest deal, as it’s common with lots of word processors. But let’s pretend you get frustrated trying to format your document, give up, and decide to format it in OpenOffice… Mostly works ok but stuff like bullet points glitch out, especially if nested. Some bullet points get changed to numbers, the numerical order doesn’t even necessarily match.

Export to PDF works beautifully, on the other hand… unless you try to copy / paste the text in which case tabs and newlines are suddenly erased?

Suggestion: Fix if possible

6. Importing images is a one way street

Some of my projects have lots of image references. I really like how I can store those in my projects with Scrivener. I don’t really like how I have to manually go to my system file explorer, and browse the project files to get the images back out.

Suggestion: A simple right-click menu -> Show file location

7. Inexplicable program slowdown

For some reason, the program will randomly start running very slowly with a lot of delay and input lag on entering text / selecting menus. I have tested with Task manager open and all other apps closed. Even Scrivener itself doesn’t show abnormally high cpu or ram usage. Closing and reopening the software fixes this… until it happens again.

Suggestion: There might be a memory leak somewhere in the code.

8. Mono-window design

This one isn’t a complaint so much as a suggestion. The split work space is great, but with a large and complex project sometimes two documents open at once isn’t enough. It would be nice to have detachable windows. Consider a tabbed system like they use in Eclipse or VisualStudio, where windows can be attached, or detached.


Overall there are some aspects of this software I really like. I intend to continue using it for some things, but as of now there are many things where it feels like I have to fight against Scrivener to get them done. The project management features are incredible but if the core functionality of word-processing is overlooked they go to waste. I don’t expect (or want) all the robust features of OpenOffice or MsWord, but some essentials would be greatly appreciated.

I hope my feedback aids in making Scrivener an even better app than it already is! Best of luck!

Are you using the Windows Scrivener release version, or the Windows Scrivener 3 beta?

As the question implies, there is a major update already in the works. If that wasn’t what you evaluated, you might want to reserve judgement until you take a look.

I’d also recommend taking a look at the Tutorial, available from the Help menu. Many of your observations are either already addressed via tools that you apparently did not find, or are consequences of Scrivener’s somewhat unique approach. For example, a fundamental principle of Scrivener is that writing and layout are different tasks. For that reason, the editor “page” is much less important in Scrivener than it is in many other word processors.


Scrivener is not a wysiwyg word processing software where you fix the layout while writing, so what you are asking for is simply not the way Scrivener is designed. What you complain about is simply not meant to be there, by choice.

You should do the interactive tutorial so you understand the core principles of Scrivener, before suggesting changes or “improvement”.

Thank you for your speedy reply Katherine.

I am using Version:

As a rule I generally do not review or evaluate Beta releases of software, since as the ‘beta’ tag implies, they are still in development (and likely unstable). When I’m working on a project I’d tend towards a stable “complete” release over a beta. (for obvious reasons.)

I will check it out however, as I wasn’t aware it was available, or even existed until now.
When I purchased the product, my version is what I was directed to download, so that’s what I did. Since then there have been no screens at startup alerting me to new versions or beta releases.

Now, this being the case further criticism of my current version is pointless… But as someone who genuinely thinks this product has potential, I’d like to address your response since it’s inadequate and would likely infuriate a less rational customer.

The forum says you are from the Mac side of things. In google searches trying to address some of my issues, it was made clear that the mac version is quite different (and possibly improved) compared the windows version. I’m wondering if your information is inaccurate regarding the windows version.

It is extremely condescending to imply the user has not read the tutorial, then vaguely state that it covers their observations, especially when the tutorial in fact does not address said observations. As a customer it makes me feel as if you did not really read what I wrote.

Which observations specifically are covered by the tutorial?

I have read the tutorial, and double checked upon reading your reply. The tutorial present in my version does not address any of the issues I encountered. I does not even mention the options screen. There is a 351 page PDF manual… and kudos for having a manual but this also does not address my critiques.

What tools did I “apparently not find”? The compiler? That’s not what I was talking about.

Scrivener’s design philosophy and approach is great. That’s what attracted me to the product in the first place. But to say “writing and layout are different tasks” or that the “editor page is much less important” is objectively incorrect.

It really depends on what is being written.

Having to compile, or even print-preview every time I want to check the length of my screenplay is frustrating and clunky.
Having to do this to check to make sure text is displayed on the page I want it to be displayed on is also clunky, borderline unusable.

Having the option to use multiple documents, and compile them with page breaks is great. Having this as the ONLY option is beyond un-intuitive. What if I want text to be in the middle of the page?

Having the compiler is a great addition. This shouldn’t mean stripping out the ability for a user to handle layout themselves.

A little number at the bottom of the screen with word / character count, and possibly page count (not mentioned in tutorial or manual, nor visible to me in the options) does not help.

EVERYONE writing a screenplay and most people writing other kinds of documents want to see where a page begins and ends. It’s baffling there isn’t at least an option to turn this on even if the idea is to promote a more free-flow of ideas without pages and margins.

Also it’s downright unacceptable that rulers from the editor view don’t translate properly to what you actually print. 8" is 8". This should NEVER be different between the editor screen and print.

In addition to print:
I do not want my words to wrap when they reach the edge of my (very wide) screen. I want my words to wrap when they reach the edge of the PAGE.

If I have the inspector, and binder closed, there is over 19 inches per line. It feels like trying to write in NOTEPAD. The first paragraph of my initial comment barely takes up more than a line.

It sounds nice and new-age and marketable to say the editor page is “much less important” but I’m sorry… that’s absurd. The editor page is where 99% of the work happens.

Being able to work with multiple documents is great. Being forced to make multiple documents is the opposite of great. It’s bad. Very bad.

If Scrivener’s revolutionary design philosophy hinders the creative process then it needs to be re-evaluated. And this is me, a customer telling you in no un-certain terms that it does in-fact hinder the creative process.

I don’t think the “customer is always right” but if you’re going to tell the customer they are wrong you need to be very sure they actually are, otherwise you end up with a frustrated customer.


The first thing I did after posting was go to the website to find Scrivener 3.
I am now officially frustrated with this product.

Your condescending tone made it seem like it was an actual release. At first glance it doesn’t even appear to be available yet on windows. Only after scrolling down do you find a section directing you to the forums to try the beta.

This section clearly says:

So your own marketing department is all but advising me against it… yet that is your recommendation?

Is this a joke? I feel insulted. It doesn’t help that I posted in the WINDOWS forum and am getting this response from a staff member clearly labelled as representing the Mac version.

Yes. Insulted is the correct term here.

You could have simply said a boilerplate “Thank you for your feedback we will let our developers know!”

I would have known it was a meaningless platitude, but left satisfied with the hope that these things would be addressed in future versions.

Now I feel ripped off. I paid about $60 for a Word Processor that barely surpasses notepad in it’s ability to process words.

1.) I have done the interactive tutorial. See my above comment.
2.) Scrivener is word processing software. Not having these features is absurd and borderline unacceptable.
3.) “You don’t understaaaaaand” is not a rebuttal to a paying customer noting the lack of even an OPTION for standard, and VITAL features for writing documents.

The version of Scrivener I currently have is good for writing novels… and that’s about it. The features it lacks makes it un-intuitive for about every other kind of writing.

I’m not asking for it to support images in-text.
I’m not asking for graphics, or even tables. (which it ironically has)
I’m not asking for any special formatting or layout or typesetting features.

My criticisms are a lack of features that have existed in word processors since before GRAPHIC INTERFACES even existed.

Word processors on entirely text based DOS machines somehow were able to let the user know where a page would end… but Scrivener can’t because “muh design philosophy?”

This is absurdity.

Having the OPTION of one long document is GREAT.
REMOVING the option to see where a page ends is insane.

I’m glad Scrivener works for your purposes, but it is unusable for mine. There is an endless list of unsuccessful software that placed it’s “super special philosophy” above functionality. I wish Scrivener the best of luck, and hope they don’t end up on that list… but I certainly won’t be using it any further.

Quite frankly I don’t care what Scrivener’s philosophy is.

I cared about a convenient project management integration built on-top of a word processor.

I paid $60 for that software.

A software developer trying to force their philosophy on “how you should write” is outright stupid.

Guess what? For some things, that philosophy is great. For other things it gets in the way.

Writing software that makes writing what you want to write HARDER, is bad software.

None of my criticisms would undermine Scrivener’s precious philosophy. It would only add optional functionality for situations where the writer wants control over their own project such as layout.

An in-depth compiler with multiple documents is AWSOME… but sometimes hitting ‘enter’ a few times to put text where you want your text to be is better.

In version 3 there is some very basic functions for text width and a kind of page view, but it’s still not a wysiwyg word processor. The beauty of it is that one can focus on the text while writing instead of having to care about layout. It’s created specifically for long-form writing, like novels, but is used for all sorts of writing. I personally prefer Scrivener’s way of doing things and am no longer using Word or Pages except in situations where I am more or less forced to do so.

If you don’t like it, okay. There are a lot of other good writing softwares out there. I don’t think Keith will change the basic idea of how Scrivener is designed to work. Luckily. :slight_smile:

Version 3 is a beta, and unstable. The official store page all but recommends against using it. “Just a taste” as they say. I’m not in the habit of working on a serious project in unstable beta software.

This doesn’t excuse the editor’s ruler being inaccurate.
This doesn’t excuse the lack of a page-break.

As I have said countless times in no uncertain terms now:

It. Depends. What. You. Are. Writing.

Fiction? Novels? Biographies? Books. Sure ok.

Screenplays? No. It gets int he way.
Technical writing? Design documents? No. It gets in the way.

(Guess what kinds of writing I do :wink: )

It is critical for me to be able to ensure a nested list of bullet points doesn’t spill over onto the next page.

It is useful to me to be able to quickly be able to tell how many pages (and therefore minutes) my screenplay is.

You… do understand this right?
A screenplay written in courier 12 with 8.5x11 page and .5" margins will equal about 1 minute per page.

When writing a screenplay how many pages you have is of UPMOST IMPORTANCE.

Not being able to tell where a page ends, or how many pages I have causes wasted time and prevents me from “focusing on the text” since I constantly have to check a print preview.

I mean yeah… seems like that’s my choice.
It’s a depressing attitude to read, however. What made me purchase this software wasn’t their lofty philosophy. It was the project management and compilation functionality.

Nothing about having an O.P.T.I.O.N.A.L. page separator visible undermines this design.

I’ll assume Keith is the developer? Why would refusing to add in additional features be lucky?

Software designs can get quite long. On par with novels. The difference is that formatting is vital.

Even in novel writing… there are many times where being creative with layout can be used for poetic effect. There’s no reason to block this.

Which is about all it’s good for.

Ultimately I am baffled at your responses. I’m glad Scrivener works for your purposes but there’s no reason it shouldn’t also be able to work for mine. These things are not at odds with each-other.

Ultimately everyone loses.
Scrivener is the only program with in-depth project management built in, so it’s a same it directly interferes with writing the projects I want to work on.

On the flip side, I certainly won’t be recommending it to the many writers I know, and in fact have been complaining extensively to them for a few weeks before making this post.
This means less sales for Scrivener which means less updates. Everyone loses out, and for what? Philosophical integrity?

I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. Nothing I’ve brought up even undermines the philosophy to begin with. Simple, ancient, functionality isn’t too much to ask from a $60 piece of software.

There’s a difference between software having a philosophy and intent, and that same software forcing it’s philosophy on the user. That seems to be the difference here… and it’s eerie that you seem so happy :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: at an unsatisfied user who cared enough to sign up for the forums and comment.

Also… I just realized something.

It keeps being repeated how important the philosophy here is. How important it is to focus on the writing itself…

How the heck does forcing me to make extra documents and compile them (in the scenarios where I don’t want to) Facilitate this?

That’s LESS focus on the writing. It’s literally a distraction. That’s part of why I’m complaining about it to begin with.

Anyway… I give up.

This post, and reading other posts I realize it’s a waste of my time.

There’s a strong almost cult-like attitude on these forums.

I thought I was posting in a form for feedback on a piece of writing software, not a religion built around a piece of writing software.

I certainly wasn’t interested in spending several hours arguing about it.

All of my complaints are my complaints. If I feel this way there are certainly others who also feel this way but didn’t care enough to post. It’s a shame that the feedback forum is so resistant to critical feedback.

The Feedback part of the forum is meant for Feedback about how you use the software. If you want new features, post them in the Wish list.

You voiced complaints, I (being a user like you) tried to explain why so many of us like Scrivener the way it is. And version 3 is available for Mac, and as an almost officially released version for Windows (beta version in its final stages).

You paid 60 bucks for writing software that you anticipated would do everything. Might I suggest an actual piece of software that is designed specifically for screenplays? You know, both free and paid, and are screenplay-industry standards? You must be aware of them. Why not use one of those? Celtx is free. Final Draft - although it’s a tad on the expensive side, which is why you probably paid 60 for Scrivener, thinking it would do it for you.

If you want to design documents or do technical writing, I’m sure there are also many, many bits of software that will allow you to design documents and do technical writing. Word. LibreOffice. I’m certain you know all of those, too.

I doubt any of them costs a measly 60 bucks, though one is free to use as one sees fit.

But, in my estimation, Scrivener is the best novel writing software out there. So is Word. And LibreOffice. And many other bits and pieces of software. I’d never use it for a screenplay, though, although I’m certain many do. I’d prefer to use industry standards, because, well, they’re industry standards.

What’s my point? I dunno.

You, obviously, have no idea what are you talking about. Scrivener, as lunk pointed out, is NOT a WYSIWYG editor, nor it is a page layout software. When you want to clean your windows, you don’t buy a hammer, right? It’s just the wrong tool for the job.

That being said, Scrivener is a superb organizational tool, the best on the market for writing novels. And believe me, I’ve tried them all.


We strongly encourage all users to take advantage of our extensive free trial before purchasing, for exactly the reasons demonstrated in this thread. We understand that not everyone wants to work in the way Scrivener is designed, and that’s okay.

The Windows Scrivener 3 beta can be downloaded here:

I’m well aware of the differences between the Mac and Windows versions. It’s literally my job. Many of those differences will be resolved by the release of Windows Scrivener 3.

If you don’t want to evaluate beta software, that’s a completely legitimate position. But it does make your comments somewhat irrelevant, as they pertain to a product that is already being superseded.

If you’re going to complain about “critical flaws in core functionality,” it seems to me useful to understand what the core functionality is. Hence my suggestion of the Tutorial.


I just got “reprimanded” for my loud laughing at 'not work related web browsing". It is comical the level of patience you must (and do) show on the forum. I’d have banned some folks a long time ago.

Thanks for the much needed lightening of my day.

Skimming helps. – Katherine

Any issues that people might have with the software can easily be found BEFORE spending any money on it, as the trial is full-featured and is for THIRTY FREAKING DAYS. If you can’t figure out in a month that the software doesn’t do what you want, that’s on you, and you alone.

I would add that Scrivener 1.9 can’t do a simple entire document word count or search.

I hope that’s sarcastic…

I just did both in 1.9. It was quite easy, actually.

Word count of the manuscript for my longest WIP. 103,927 words.

Word search for my hometown, being as that’s where said WIP is mostly set.

Click each photo to see it full size. I’m not sure why you think it’s not possible to do either, but as I just demonstrated it is.