Can Scrivener do the following...

I’m new to Scrivener and I’m wondering if it can do the following:

Does it have spelling and grammer checker as in Word?
If I use Lulu or CreateSpace Word templates to format my paperback, can these be imported to Scrivener so I can work there?
Can my book be exported to a print-ready PDF I can then send to Lulu or CreateSpace?

Thanks for your time,

I’ll jump in here with an answer, and trust that someone more authoritative on this forum will come along and add a final word.

I think of Scrivener as an “assembly kit” for any serious writing effort. It has a writing window surrounded by organizing tools and storage pockets and search functions to help me assemble my work. That is its primary purpose. It is an authoring tool for gathering research material, notes, snippets, scenes and chapters into a draft document, which can be organized and edited and reorganized and revised again and again, never fearing that I will lose content or place. It has an infinite backup system, and a method for keeping snap-shots of revisions. I can revise freely, with abandon, confident I can always go back to a previous version and not lose earlier work. It is seamless, effortless, and easy.

And, yes, it does have a spell checker. No, it does not have a grammar checker.

I think of Word or LibreOffice or Pages as the “polishing kit” for finalizing the format and printing requirements of my work. And that’s where I’ll use my grammar checker and proof-reading and final layout tools. That’s a deliberate choice. Each tool is chosen and used to best advantage.

Myself, I use a page layout program for fine-tuning a novel for the best possible typographic and page format presentation. But the heavy-lifting of creating the book is done in Scrivener.

As for the CreateSpace or Word templates, my experience is that those are best used where you do the final polishing, in your word processor or page layout program. Scrivener is an authoring, not a layout program.

As for the output to ePub or other digital presentation formats, Scrivener has steadily improved in that area. There is a wealth of information on this forum regarding that form of output.

I think Graybyrd has summed up the basic goal of the software nicely, and how most people are expected to use it. I think a good number of authors working in the publication chain may never need to use Word after switching to Scrivener, because their formatting needs are extremely basic (at least for writing, once you are working with an editor you’ll probably need to stick with Word from there on out). They just need submission quality and that is good enough. For those publishing their own work, or expected to do the final layout as is often the case in academia, then you start to see groups of tools being used together, each for their own strengths, rather than trying to fit every single possible thing you might want to do into one program. There are some fine layout packages on the market already, and nearly everyone already has one of those (Word), so there is no reason to try and reproduce all of what they can do. Scrivener is instead intended as your staging area; where things go from blank files to the final or nearly final text of the book. Not the book in most cases, but the text of it (or whatever you are working on; screenplay, dissertation, etc.).

So because of this fundamental divide in how the software approaches the task of writing, it cannot import Word templates. It wouldn’t know what to do with them because hardly any one piece of the software works like Word does. Oh, in the little things like hitting Ctrl-B to make some text bold, it does, but when it comes to the grand philosophy it is completely different. The way text looks while you are typing it in may look nothing at all like the final output. The closest analogue to Word templates are compile settings, which is where all of the pieces of your work are sewn together in the manner of your choosing. This is where chapter titles can be automatically generated and numbered, where the look and feel of the text can be decided, and so on. It’s basically a one-shot thing you can set up and hit a button whenever you want a single RTF or DOC file. We include a number of compile presets that many will find useful out of the box, as well as specially designed compile settings for the project template starters. So many people never even need to roll up their sleeves and learn how to adjust the compiler. In fact I’d say most people just use it very simply and do all of the final polish in a word processor or desktop publishing program.

That all said, most of the things addressed in the CreateSpace (and LuLu as well I believe) formats are not too difficult to add as features to the compiler, and we do have every intention of gradually improving the quality of what the compiler can output, so that in best case scenarios one could just compile a PDF and be done with it. That all is a ways off however, so for now it is best to think in terms of when to change to a word processor and what best to use Scrivener for.

Great information, thanks very much for the explanation.