Collapsible bullets in Doc like Workflowy!

Assuming people at Literature & Latte read this regularly, I’d like to request an option in the next Scrivener for Windows.

I do a lot of my writing using bullets. I make lists upon lists and within lists. I also use for note taking that I can use anywhere I have an internet connection.

While integrating with Workflowy would be nice, I would like to request that L&L simply add an option to create documents within my projects that allows me to create collapsible bullets. With those, I can hide what I’m not working on at the moment and it allows me to choose my view option.

Ultimately it would allow me to create a single document, such as a dictionary for example, that would have sub-bullets with words, and each word having sub-bullets with definitions and so on. Each level I drill down into, it would place they path within the tree at the top of the page.

I would be in the current level ready to edit and it will display the collapsed tree beneath, unless I’ve opened it.

Please go to and preview it to see what I’m talking about. What you find there is pretty much what I am requesting in Scrivener. Either as an add-in, a document template or as a native application feature. It’s a truly awesome feature that I’m sure everyone using Scrivener would be able to utilize.

Here is an image of part of my Workflowy page for reference.

The overall usefulness for me, of this exact functionality, cannot be overstated. In my case, it would be a huge benefit for organization of a novel’s outline. The ability to create scene lists and then actually build my manuscript from that one document, continually adding to it until I have a complete manuscript.

Each List Item would be able to be collapsed to more easily read and distill ideas, but just as easily expanded to show the entire document so that one could read it in its entirety.


I’m afraid this isn’t really possible in Scrivener. I’m the Mac developer, and I know for a fact that this sort of thing isn’t possible using the Mac text engine (hiding text in general isn’t possible). I’m not sure about the Windows text engine our Windows developers use, but I’m fairly sure that has similar problems. And even if it didn’t, the underlying format we use for saving the text files (RTF) doesn’t have this capability, so it would mean extending the format.

I do agree that it’s a pretty nifty feature, but I’m sorry to say that it is out of scope, at least for now.

Thanks and all the best,

Thanks for to honest and polite reply. I still love Scrivener.

Well, I’m wondering if not collapsible bullets (something like this would be ideal) do you think it would be possible to at least make it so you can see only the headings? Like, could you have Scrivener detect only the text formatted as a heading and then show just the text with that format, or is that still too much?

Just put the content in separate documents - that’s what the binder is made for. Why introduce another layer and form of organization when scrivener already has such robust organizational features?

@tommybalassa is right to request this feature: an outliner with collapse/expandable bullets is the BEST and most POWERFUL way to organize information.

You can see everything in a glance if you want to, but your info never get’s in the way: that’s what the collapsing is for.

If Scrivener wants to extend its scope to being a (potential) knowledge base as well, this feature is heavily needed. - And for non-fiction writing or complex novels, this could be useful too.

As @Rickswan pointed out: even Microsoft Word has this feature…
So what’s keeping Scrivener from implementing this? :slight_smile:

So what’s keeping Scrivener from implementing this?

As noted above, one very important reason is that it’s not actually technically possible for us to add this. :slight_smile:

Secondly though, what you are describing runs counter to the foundational design principles of the software. Or in other words, it already does this, but in a way we feel is superior to text editor based models.

Microsoft is a multi-billion dollar company, with (tens of?) thousands of developers that they can throw at any project they like. Lit and Lat have four, maybe five developers total, spread across 3 development environments and two products. Of course Microsoft Word has some fancy bells and whistles that Scrivener doesn’t – Pointing to a company with more wealth that a number of smaller nations doesn’t really support the idea that Lit & Lat should be able to keep up.

I think there is a big misunderstanding going on.

This feature request is not about collapsible bullets, but about collapsible scrivenings.
The OP just used the word “bullets” because he referenced to Workflowy and, well… Workflowy has bullets. But Scrivener has scrivenings, so obviously, the request is for collapse/expandable scrivenings.

I thought this was clear for everyone, but apparently it wasn’t.

That is also why I ignored the remark that it is technically not possible, because if you can have a “scrivenings mode” - where all child items are shown under their parent - then why wouldn’t you be able to add the extra feature of making those child items collapse/expandable?

That is also why I think @AmberV’s remark about Scrivener’s model being superior is not appropriate.
Yes, it is superior, but that is beside the point. :slight_smile:
The request is about improving this (superior) model.

As your post is the first one in this 5 year old thread to mention the Scrivenings feature, and all prior posts–including your prior post–mention “bullets” explicitly, it’s fair to say everyone’s assumption that it was in fact about bullets was entirely reasonable.

If you have ever used Workflowy, this is clear from the start.
(In Workflowy a bullet is your “basic chunk of information”, organised in a hierarchy tree. → The equivalent of a scrivening in Scrivener.)

If you have never used Workflowy, apparently this isn’t clear. :slight_smile:
Which is way I explained it.

As someone who is familiar with how that tool works (I’ve experimented with similar, though a desktop software’s take on the idea rather than a website), I know of what you speak of in terms of how both Scrivener and these sorts of tools are outliners, and so a most literal mapping of a “bullet” in a block-based system like that is to a binder item. That was of course the underscored point that I was making in my response—that in Scrivener the bullet points are in the binder not in the editor.

That said, I do not see what you are referring to in your interpretation of the request, and to me it is clear from the way in which they described their request, that they use bullets in the text editor in Scrivener, and were hoping to see a type of document (aka binder item) that would work like these tools do, as an inline outliner with native folding built into the model of how one works with information. It goes directly back to what I spoke of in the thread I linked to, of how there are two predominant models for outlining: the embedded text editing approach and the list of headings w/ “notes content” approach, which Scrivener uses.

Be that as it may, if we are for some reason all wrong about a request for “Collapsible bullets in doc” not being about folding outlines in documents—then I’m afraid I don’t actually understand what part of the request does not already exist already. If we are talking about using the binder outline to its fullest, where each dictionary word is an entry in the binder, and definitions are indented child items beneath the word entry—then we can already fold the outline. Right?

Do you mean folding text chunks in the editor, as in a function of Scrivenings mode? If so, we can already do that as well. Sure if you just click on a folder you see everything below it and have no say beyond that, but Scrivenings otherwise only ever shows what you’ve selected in the main editor. It is a naturally folded and isolated view. If you want to fold a section out of its view than remove it from the selection that is driving the session with a simple Ctrl-click. I would hasten to add that I do not feel the correlation is perfectly similar, but if you go from that seed as a starting point and start thinking of Scrivener’s capabilities elsewhere, such as with collections and how selections become pseudo-elements stored in history, etc., you can see how there is a lot of support for this approach.

@Tim_H: The request is about improving this (superior) model.

So to speak abstractly on that, yes I think there are things we can do to improve this model, but my thoughts on that would orient more toward how the outline/editor relationship can be improved, rather than pushing the editor toward an outlining model, even if only to dip a toe in—because sometimes that all on its own starts to muddy the water. Bear in mind we already have threads like this, and the one I linked to, and many more besides—threads that demonstrate how there is a learning hump involved in fully grokking that the list of things in the binder isn’t a file management system but an outline. Those that are very familiar with outlining, but come from tools where outlining is purely a construct embedded into the text editing interface naturally gravitate toward this kind of feature request: “Scrivener’s bullets are awful, make them act more like folding outliners”. This is fine, to be clear, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way at all! I don’t even mean to suggest that folding editors are inferior in a general way—for some things they are incredibly powerful.

What I’m getting at is that we already have a hurdle to overcome in that editor outlines are far more prevalent and common than “two-pane” outliners. If we already struggle to convey what the latter is, would adding even a semblance of folding metaphor into the editing environment serve to make it easier or more difficult for Scrivener to be learned? And I think that’s the most important question here, since we’ve already established that the actual act itself, of “folding” text out of the session is already perfectly functional and well supported in the software.

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