cloning pages and outlining within a page

A couple of questions that don’t seem to be answered in the manual.

  1. I would like to clone a page to use in more than one place in a document. It’s a page in which changes to either the original or the copy would be transposed to the other. Or not, as perhaps set by preferences. However, it would at least exist as a possibility. Cloning used to be a standard feature of outlining programs–More, Framemaker (I think that was the name).

  2. I would like to use an outline when I start a new page. I sometimes create an outline for a section/page when I start a new one so that I have a view of how I want to structure that portion of the document. I see that the Binder materials are often referred to as an outline. And there is an outliner of the those materials alongside the corkboard, etc. But I’m looking for an outlining device within the page itself.

I’ve found the list making feature. Which helps. But a full outline feature would let me move items around more easily.

Thanks in advance for any help,

John Kendrick

Hello John,

First, Scrivener has outlining features (that’s one of the many reasons I bought it). But I would not call it an outliner – as a writer’s tool, it is much more, but it does not offer the full feature set of a classical outliner.

As for FrameMaker (a very expensive software for technical writers): I have been using it for many years, and I’m pretty sure it never had a cloning feature. You could reference external files (e.g. raw text) in a FrameMaker doc, and if you used that cleverly, you could achieve something similar to cloning by updating those external files.

That being said, cloning is a feature that not even every modern outliner such as OmniOutliner 3.9.x has, and I don’t think it can be achieved in Scrivener. But I might be wrong.

(If I needed something like that – actually, I do with a current project –, I would string those instances of a section together, either by using (temporary) links or a collection. When I need to update them, I’d copy the content of the first instance to the clipboard and paste it into these other instances manually. Of course, this isn’t acceptable when you have more than a few instances of the same content snippet.)

If you want „real“ outlining, hit Command-3 to display the currently visible Scrivenings as an outline. I suggest splitting your content into meaningful sections (using the Documents - Split command), where each section will become one outliner item. This will allow you to work/think in terms of sections and articles. Switch between the Scrivenings and Outline views as required.

Also, an an outliner fan, you might be interested in Documents - Hoist binder. Hoisting is another great outlining feature. Take a section hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of a complex document and make it the top-level item temporarily. This is wonderful feature, especially when you assign keyboard shortcut to Hoist/Unhoist.

Hope this helps.

Item #1 isn’t in the manual because there is no such feature. :slight_smile: The closest thing to it is Collections. They are lists you can maintain (or you can search for something and then save that search as a dynamic collection), which are clones of the original items. This way you can sort things however you want in a flat list without disrupting their original position. In outliner terms, you can think of Collections as being a bit like Mark & Gather (also from MORE)—you can even do a proper Gather by selecting the “marked” items in the Collection and dragging them back to the Binder tab, dropping them into the folder you wish to gather them in.

So it’s a slightly different approach, but it covers most everything you would need clones for. The main thing it doesn’t help with is when you are doing fairly complex things with multiple versions of a book in the same project. There have been a few cases, in handling both the Windows and Mac manuals in one project, where clones could have helped reduce redundancy—but to be honest there haven’t been many.

Collections do most of what I ever used clones for in an outliner—alternate categorisation to escape the limitations of a fixed tree organisational environment.

As you pointed out, this kind of task is meant to be done in the outliner/corkboard/binder itself. In fact, I’d say that’s one of the key philosophies of the program: you can make an outline that suits your textual material and thought processes and then later obscure that outline when you compile so that it all looks like one file. You should feel free to break down a scene into a bunch of individual ideas and then flesh out those ideas right in the editor—or just use the cards in a split to help with the writing process in the parent scene file—or merge them all together into one scene file when you’re done brainstorming.

The list feature isn’t really a good substitute for this kind of job. It’s limited, and meant more for actual bullet or enumeration lists in a text. Word processors sometimes couple these together, but they are stuck with representing the entire manuscript as a single file, so that’s just how they have to flow. Since you don’t have to do that in Scrivener, you might as well use its built in outline to outline. :slight_smile:

Do note you can use the Enter key to create new cards, and Ctrl-Cmd-ArrowKeys to move them around in the hierarchy. I find it to be very efficient—much like working in a power outliner of yore.

On Refresh: Definitely do agree in that Scrivener isn’t meant to be a power outliner—but in my estimation it does quite a lot. The features might not all fit into the tidy boxes used by outliners in the past, but for me anyway they get the job done just as efficiently—if not more so. Personally I find collections to be way more powerful than clones because they are a discrete list. They can be used as operational filters, be visualised on freeform corkboards, etc. They provide what would take about a half a dozen outliner power features, all in one metaphor.

Thanks for both these very detailed responses. I’ve saved the link so I can use the thoughts in future work. I have little doubt that Scrivener will be my document manager of choice so the comments will definitely help. As for specifics:

  1. My apology for referring to FrameMaker as an outliner. I had another Macintosh program in mind, one my wife and I used some fifteen years ago. We found it better than MORE but it was discontinued. The name was similar but neither of us can remember for certain. So, please scrub that.

  2. As for cloning and collections, I’ll take a look at that as a way to address my issues. It’s not something I’m doing at the moment but had seen a possible need down the road. So, as I said above, I’m saving these notes for future references.

  3. On the notions about outlining, those suggestions will certainly help but they envision a different use for Scrivener than I had in mind. More lumpy scraps of paper and index cards than sections of a longer file. As I get further in to Scrivener, I may start doing that. But for the moment, I’ll keep using the lists feature for each new section to outline it and then fill in the outline as I go along. But, having noted your advice, I’ll certainly start looking for uses like that.

Again, thanks for the quick reply. It’s good to start using a new program (well, I did use it sometime back but got swamped with other issues and am back) and find such a level of support.

John Kendrick

Acta, maybe?. The same guy that made that one back in the late '80s and early '90s has released Opal, which is a modern OS X compatible version. I’m not sure if that one had clones though, but it was from the same era as MORE.

No, it wasn’t Acta. I do, sort of, remember that but my memory says it had none of the serious features that MORE did.

The question has now grabbed me for a bit so I googled on it. And ran across some materials from Dave Winer. Given you know the outlining stuff, you know his role in MORE. I thought that program would get mentioned. But I could find no mention of it in his materials.

My wife has a terrific memory but still can’t remember this one. We’ll keep picking at the skin of this one. Both of us are surprised we can’t come up with the name.


This might be the program you are referring to:

WebArranger was an outliner/PIM far ahead of its time. Here is a review).


AFAIR, this worked flawlessly - unlimited nesting and cloning, so you could build really complex, redundant structures, edit everywhere and see your cloned entities update.

Most people probably didn’t get/need that level of granularity, and the product has long since been abandoned.

The other really innovative outliner/PIM I came up with is InfoDepot. It’s mentioned in this ATPM article.

This was another outliner that allowed nesting and cross-referencing outlines. It even had Tinderbox style “corkboard” views.

And I still have the 3.5" installation disks and manuals for InfoDesk in my basement.

(Not that I would remember all that instantly. I am kind of a digital pack rat, and I have a database with every hardware and software I ever bought, including these two. Useless information, finally worth something. :wink: )

BTW: If you’re really interested in outliners, I recommend the “About this Particular Outliner” articles at ATPM. No new content since 2008, but as an Outliner history/museum, it is invaluable.

Thanks for checking that out. No, that wasn’t the program. My wife and I have tentatively decided I conflated two programs. I was using FullWrite Pro intensively during its brief life. Loved it in more ways I can count. But especially it’s outlining. And, as you might guess, was appalled at the Word outliner. Never could see how anyone could tolerate. So, using FWP for word processing and MORE for some outlining then, I may well now have conflated the two in my recall.

But I still hold out the faint hope bit that there was a program.

As for the newsletter with reviews of Mac outliners, I read it. It’s a part of my continuing tumultuous relationship with Tinderbox. On again, off again, just barely describes it.

Thanks for keeping the search alive.

John Kendrick