Corks: possible to add text directly to underlying document?

Okay, this may seem a little convoluted and perhaps I’m trying to bend Scrivener too far to fit my idiosyncratic workflow, but is it possible to add text to a cork’s document? I know that you can edit the synopses of a cork when it is selected, but can text be added to the underlying document itself?

I know that you can click on the double arrow icon to “automatically open selection in other editor”, but this does not allow you to add text to the cork’s document directly from the cork itself. Selecting the cork only lets you add text to the synopses.

The reason for asking this question: I work on my writing projects by opening a word processing document and writing anything that comes to mind that is related to the project (stream of consciousness). This usually results in 30-60 pages of notes with absolutely no organization. In the pre-Scrivener days :smiley: I would go through this document and write each individual thought/idea on a notecard and then organized the notecards into separate sections.

When I tried to do this in Scrivener, I split the view in two (vertical) and opened the unedited 60 page document on the top split (locked it). I then created 3 folders in the Binder (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) and put separate subdocument into each folder (Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc). I tried to go through the unedited document on the top split and drag each idea directly into the individual corks that I created, but the text could only be added to the cork’s synopses, and not to the underlying document itself. The ability to add text to the cork’s underlying document would have made this process extremely easy to do, but I could not do it this way.

I ended up selecting each section in the unedited document and dragging it into the binder to create its own document, but then I couldn’t see the entire structure that I originally created (the folders and sub-documents). Is there a way to do this?

I also could not reorganize folders from the Binder. Whenever I dragged a folder I could not place it below another folder, it would only go inside the other folder. I know that you can do this from the outline view, but I could not do it from the Binder itself (works with subdocuments).


Unless I misunderstand you, to add to text to the corkboard document, just switch to text mode using the View mode in the toolbar. A folder is no different to a text document except for its icon and default view mode.

All the best,

This is not what I’m talking about (and I mentioned the ability to add text to the notecards in the editor in my original post). My question is whether you can add text to the document directly from the cork board notecards for the reasons given in my original post.

I guess my wish is that the cork board could be used directly to add text to the synopsis and to the document itself from the individual notecards without having to switch to text editor. This would allow me to organize and add text to the notecards directly from a large text document in the Binder to the individual notecards (in split view).

I don’t know if this is a good idea or not but it seems to make sense (to me at least) that users should be able to add text not only to the synopsis of the cards but also to the linked text file itself directly from the individual notecards. Maybe clicking on the top line of the notecard can allow you to input the title and synopsis for the notecard and clicking on the section below that line (the body of the notecard) would add text directly to the text file.

Let me know if this is still unclear.


Have you tried the Scrivener Scratch Pad for this?

Like so:

1 Open your ideas doc in your favorite word processor (not Scrivener).
2 Copy a section to the clip board.
3 Paste the section to the Scrivener Scratch Pad.
4 Use the Scrivener Scratch Pad button “Send file to Scrivener” and its “Append Text To” feature to append the section to one of your text files in Scrivener.
Repeat 2, 3, 4 as needed.

No, this is not possible and never will be because the index cards are for showing the synopses of the associated documents. Please refer to the tutorial, help manual or tutorial videos for more information on the relationship between index cards and text documents if this isn’t clear, or feel free to ask for further clarification, of course.

I’ve read the manual and viewed all of the tutorials and this is why I posted the question. I know this cannot be currently done and I know what the current relationship between notecards and text documents currently is. I’m asking that relationship to be enhanced and expanded. But this will never will be changed? You’re a developer, so I guess never means never, but the feature that I described makes sense in the context that I described it. I really see no reason why users should not be able input text into the underlying text file from the notecards themselves. This would be an added feature that would supplement the ability to add text to the synopsis and would make outlining and editing a lot simpler.

almansur does exactly what I’m trying to do so he obviously understood the nature of the problem I described. However, it would require me to open the scratch pad, switch between Scrivener and Word, copy, paste into scratch pad, send to the specific section, and repeat this for everything contained in a 60 page document. All of this could be done within Scrivener itself if the ability to directly add text to the notecard’s text document was available.

Feature request: the ability to add text to the text file directly from the notecards. If this does not any any sense then I guess it should never be implemented as you stated. Fair enough.

Thanks for the reply and thanks for the tip almansur.

It makes no sense in the context of Scrivener - this is just not what index cards are intended for. They are divorced from the text, and having them essentially be just other portals onto the main text would undermine one of my main motivations for creating Scrivener in the first place. If typing into index cards was the same as typing into the text, there would be no place to enter synopses (or it would become much more complicated), and this was one of the things I wanted from a writing program when I set out to create my own. This is why I say that it is something that is not going to happen.

Instead, I recommend double-clicking on the icon in the corner of an index card to open the underlying text and type there, then hit the back button to return to the cork board. And if you really want the text on the cards to match the start of what you have written, you can always use Auto-Generate Synopsis, although this is probably not as useful as manually entering a meaningful synopsis.

You could also use less underlining, because no matter what my wife says, I’m not a total idiot, honest guv. :slight_smile:

Hope that makes sense.

All the best,

As the developer, I am 99% certain that you know Scrivener better than I do. But you’ve provided no practical reason why what I suggested could not be done other than “that’s not the reasoning behind the way things are currently done”. You also either did not read my original post carefully enough or you did not understand the problem that I described there (as evinced by your first response) But as I said, I trust that you’re more knowledgeable about Scrivener than I am, so your opinion is definitely more authoritative than mine.

1. This is why I suggested that notecards could be divided into two sections: the top for the title and synopsis and the bottom for the text. You’re the developer, I’m sure you could come up with a far better implementation if this was feasible or if it made any sense, which you think it doesn’t. Cool.

I underlined a sentence. You underlined a sentence. Both were done for emphasis, not to suggest anyone is stupid.

So, for the sake of finding a work-around, I’ll accept your opinion that this makes no sense and will never be implemented and leave it at that. That said, since Scrivener can’t change to solve my specific problem (as you’ve stated) I guess I have to adapt to Scrivener and work with its current features. I would appreciate any suggestions on how I can do this (almansur’s response shows a clear understanding of my original post since his suggestion was a valid solution to the problem).

So now I look forward to any other suggestions on how I can solve my particular problem. For those willing to make suggestions on how to do this please read my original post for a description of what I need to do.


Have you considered splitting the original document so that each idea/thought/section is it’s own document? Then you can just press a button to copy (the first bit of) that to each index card.

Just another $.02.
In the above suggestion using the Scrivener Scratch Pad, Scrivener can stay minimized during all that; no need to switch to it with each paste. That’s true as long as the destination document already exists.

Yet another $.02.
I don’t see a significant difference operationally, efficiency-wise, click-wise or whatever in the way Scrivener works now, the way my Scrivener Scratch Pad suggestion works and in the way your wish suggestion would work.

And 2 points.

Your wish is only for ‘append’, but I suspect you’ll be wanting ‘insert’ and ‘edit’ real soon, and since it’s only for ‘append’ that makes it special purpose and I don’t see much usefulness other than this. While Scrivener has some special purpose features they’re mostly in the getting started/importing support. Otherwise, Scrivener’s features are general and/or multiple purpose.

Also, I suspect that navigation from scene to scene is the big time consumer here. I also suspect that you may be using the corkboard for navigation. There’s nothing wrong with that but as your project gets bigger and more complex the binder becomes the most efficient means of navigation with the corkboard being useful only at the chapter level to keep the scenes straight. My project is organized as Parts/Chapters/Scenes and for me the Parts level corkboards are useless. So you might try putting your ideas doc in the top editor and then locking the binder to the bottom editor (menu View/Binder Affects) and using the binder for navigation to bring up your destination scene in the bottom editor. At that point you can append, insert, edit, whatever.


I don’t think you need the scratchpad, if I’ve understood your requirements.

  1. Highlight text in source document in Scrivener.
  2. Right click > Append Selection to Document > [choose from list]

The list is not expanded in the context menu, but you’ve can keep the full outline in the Binder (and/or the corkboard or outline open in the split) anyway to give you a reminder.

As almansur says, once your structure becomes more complicated, your problem is going to be navigation whatever you do. If your corkboard is not much more than a flat list, then the process above is just as simple. If it’s several layers deep then the corkboard will be just as unwieldy.



I had read your original post, but found it a little confusing, to be honest. You asked:

“is it possible to add text to a cork’s document… can text be added to the underlying text itself? …Selecting the cork only lets you add text to the synopses… I tried to go through the unedited document… and drag each idea directly into the individual corks that I created, but the text could only be added to the cork’s synopses, and not to the document itself. The ability to add text to the cork’s underlying document would have made this process extremely easy to do, but I could not do it this way.”

I suggest you read your first post again rather than continually accusing me of not understanding it. To me, your first post seemed to be asking for the ability to add text to the underlying document associated with a corkboard. At no point do you make it at all clear in that post that what you are in fact asking for is specifically the ability to add main text to a document by typing into an index card; you continually talk of adding text to the “cork’s underlying document”. This is something different entirely, and I gave you a good answer based on what you seemed to be asking for.

You clearly missed the tongue I had in my cheek. :slight_smile:

What do you mean by practical? Do you mean no technical reason? There are some technical reasons (such as cards being plain text and the main text being rich text, which would cause formatting problems), but they are irrelevant here. There’s no practical reason I couldn’t get rid of Scrivener’s main editor altogether and replace it with a photo of Bob Monkhouse. But doing so wouldn’t really fit in with what Scrivener is supposed to do. On this occasion, it seems that you haven’t properly read my reply - I explained exactly why it makes no sense for index cards to act as portals onto the main text in my previous reply. Index cards are for synopses of the main text. They do not show the main text. You might just as well ask why typing into the index card titles or the document notes does not add the text to the underlying document - they are all different things. A document in Scrivener comprises the main text, a title, the synopsis, notes and various meta-data. These are all separate, and I have already explained quite clearly that having a separate synopsis was one of the main things I wanted fro writing software. This synopsis is represented by an index card. That’s the way it works, and it’s the way it has always been intended to work.

That would be impractical. You’d be able to fit about two words of the text on the card, and it would really mix metaphors. Index cards in the real world have a title and a text area (the synopsis in Scrivener).

Going by what you were originally after, you could add a QuickReference pane to the mix, so that you have your main long text in that and then the two regular editors linked with clicks on the corkboard in one loading the selected card’s document text in the other. You can then drag the relevant text from the QuickReference pane to the text editor (rather than to the corkboard.

Or you can stick with your original method of dropping onto the index cards, which will create a synopsis, rather than adding the text to the document, but afterward you can just select all the cards and then use Documents > Append Synopses to Main Text, which will copy the synopsis of each card and dump it into that card’s document text, which sounds like what you want in the end.

While not trying to make you feel constricted to Scrivener’s way of doing things, I do think your approach to this feels a lot like a Word mindset in a way, which makes sense since you’re transitioning. If I understand correctly, you’ve got essentially one big documents of various notes which you want to cut into little manageable bits and put in the proper parts of your outline. So you created the outline in the binder, with lots of folders and blank documents waiting for you to cut and paste text from your main document. That’s fine, but it’s a lot of extra work as you’re seeing, since now you’ve got separate documents for the source and destination.

Instead, what I’d suggest trying next time is to build the outline as you go by using Documents > Split at Selection (Cmd-K) in the main document to break it down into all the little pieces, then move those around in your outline as you like. (Outline here meaning the story outline; you can use whatever view makes sense to you, be it corkboard or outliner or just working in the binder.) That way you don’t have to deal with the cutting and pasting at all; you just create the cards directly and then shuffle them around into the structure. You can certainly create some containers at the get go if you want, for chapters and parts or whatever you need, but don’t create the individual scene documents that you actually want this note text on–just make those by splitting them off from the original notes document, then file them into the right location.

This way, you get your text in the document, the way you want; you can also later add that same text to the synopses (so it appears on the index cards in the corkboard) by using Documents > Auto-Generate Synopsis (you can select multiple cards for this–just makes sure the synopsis is blank to start or that you’re sure you want to overwrite it with the beginning of the document’s main text). You might not want that, of course, but depending what kind of notes you’ve got, it might be helpful initially if you’re working in the corkboard view. The real benefit of the synopsis is that it is separate from the main text, so you can type whatever you want there, but if you’re working with just notes in the document text at this stage they might be relevant for the synopsis as well.

it seems to me that the ,wrinkle, in the op,s workflow comes from the fact they like to write their stream of conscious text in word.

my suggested tweak to their workflow to make things simpler would be to do that stream of consciousness in the nice distraction free environment of scrivener,s full screen mode instead.

now play nicely amongst yourselves. i,m going to take a nap

Thanks for all of the suggestions Al. It’s going to take me awhile to try them/tweak them. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The notecard metaphor was exactly what confused me initially, because Scrivener follows the metaphor but it doesn’t really follow it one crucial respect–notecards have two sides. You are right, on a real notecard you would only be able to write a title and synopsis and maybe attach it to a document that contains the text document, but the notecard is only linked to that document, they are not the same. In a computer program however, that metaphor can be expanded in ways that go beyond the actual thing itself. Also, on a notecard, text can be written on both sides. So another possible way to implement what I’ve suggested could be to have the notecard have two sides: the front of the notecard would function as it currently does (title & synopsis), and the back of the notecard could represent the text document (maybe the user could click an icon on the notecard to turn it around to enter text into the underlying document that the notecard represents). BTW, my original suggestion (to be able to do it directly from the notecard itself by dividing the notecard) is the way most other notecard programs I’ve seen do it (e.g., SuperNotecard).

In any case Keith, we can both come up with reasons for and against this. The critical distinction is that your reasons against it are the ones that matter. As I said before, I accept that and will not bring this up again moving forward. Please disregard my other suggestion above (two sided notecards) since I already know that you think this does not make sense. Thanks for the replies clarifying this but now I just want to find a solution to my problem.

This is something that I’ve tried and seems to work.

  1. I pasted the 60 page document into Scrivener and selected it in the Binder.
  2. I locked the editor in place so that the document can always stay in the editor.
  3. I created the structure of folders and sub-folders in the Binder.
  4. I selected each area in the document and dragged the items into the Binder folders/sub-folders (turning each individual idea into its own document).
  5. Moved these individual documents around as needed.

Looking back, a huge part of the problem is that I like to just sit and write everything that comes to mind for a particular project first (stream of consciousness) and organize the resulting mess afterwards. I think that in the future this process might be easier if I did all of this from Scrivener itself from the beginning, but I really don’t want to stop my thinking at this stage by stopping and thinking about organization. I really don’t know what the organization is going to be until I write all of my notes and go through them.

I’ll try some of the solutions suggested here and get back to let you know how it goes.

Also, how can you re-arrange the order of folders directly from the Binder? For example, if I want to place Folder X below Folder B by dragging it down the folder tries to become a sub-folder and does not go below it (this only works if you drag folders up, not down). You can drag folders up and down in the outliner without making sub-folders.


This is perfect! Thank you so much Al and David for your combined hints. I came up with something close to this in my previous post, but I think this will work better.

Do you guys have any suggestions on what I can adapt my workflow in the future avoid these kind of problems? I have to write a 10,000 word article by next February and would like to streamline this process before I begin that. The source of this article will probably be a 20-40 page document full of notes. Should I just work directly in Scrivener and try to outline as I go? As I said earlier, I like writing the notes, organizing them, and then writing.

Thanks for the solution and for all of your time/help guys.

There are several ways of approaching this – here’s one suggestion…

Don’t bother with one document for all the notes. When you have a new thought, create a new card.

Have you explored the Freeform cork board option yet (View > Corkboard options > Freeform)? Basically, it’s the corkboard, but you can move the cards around without enforcing a structure until you’re ready to do it.

So you could (for example), start a new project for your article, then:

  1. Under the Research folder, enter Freeform cork board

  2. cmd-N for new card, add quick title, tab to synopsis, enter idea. Repeat – one idea per card.

  3. Once you’ve got all your ideas, highlight them all in the binder, then Documents > Send Synopses to Main Text You’ve now got your notes in the documents themselves.

  4. Play around with the order of the notes in the corkboard till you’re happy, then Commit the Freeform Order (button at bottom right of corkboard screen).

  5. Duplicate them to the Draft folder (so you’ve got a copy in Research of your base notes for future reference).You’ve now got a basic structure for your argument, to which you can add the superstructure of Chapter / Section folders etc.

  6. If you wanted, you could then go through the structure, merging the documents where appropriate (select them, shift-cmd-M) to give you bigger chunks to work on…

  7. Write the final article…

Just a suggestion to try. There are many wrinkles you could use to refine it – e.g. assigning different keywords to different themes of idea so you could collect all cards about 'Wheelbarrows" together in one place later.

Hope it gives you something to work on.

Different people work in very different ways. Personally, I’ve never written a synopsis, and never used the corkboard (and I’ve been using Scrivener off and on since 2006-7).

My approach is to create a document, open it in the main editor, and then write every single idea or thought that comes to me on a different line, with a number of carriage returns in between that vaguely relates to how connected or disconnected the ideas are (sometimes I also indent text to show that it is separate, or perhaps that it is a sub-idea). When working with a source text, Scrivener is ideal, because one can have the source in one split of the main editor window, and one’s own text in the other split.

Eventually, I either move the ideas in my own text closer to each other within the document according to their relationships with each other, or split the document using Cmd-K, giving each new document a short title that reflects the main idea contained within it, then use the Binder to move those documents into an order that reflects the relationship between them. I typically work with each paragraph in a separate document. If I need to see the whole text, I use Scrivenings view. I can have as much or as little in the main editing window as I like.

The Binder is my main tool for organising things, not the corkboard. It has the considerable advantage over the corkboard that you can see sub-documents and collapse and expand the outline as you like. And with sections of text as short as a paragraph, a synopsis is of little use, I find. The title of each document tells me all I need to know about what is in it. I have used this method both for a long thesis (100,000 words) and shorter pieces.

A couple of other things to try – for brainstorming, I sometimes use OmniOutliner. It will export to OPML, which can be imported into Scrivener. For quick notes, I have come to find nvALT very useful, though it took me some time to see its value.

As they say, each to his own, and your mileage may vary.


In cork board mode, you can just use the ENTER key to create a new note, type in a title, hit TAB, type in a synopsis and then hit ENTER to get out of editing the synopsis (an option exists to allow entering paragraphs instead of stopping the edit of the synopsis). ENTER will then create a new index card and set you up to type in a title, etc., etc… There’s no need to organize, and if you don’t know what the title should be, just double-tapping the ENTER key will get you to the text area to start writing. When you’re done brainstorming, you can play with the order and/or sort them into different folders.

You don’t have to worry about structure up front. When I’m brainstorming in Scrivener, I just jot down new scenes inspired by my story idea until I start to feel that there’s enough there to hang a plot off of. Then I start rearranging the cards and adding new ones to fill obvious gaps. Only when I’ve got too many to manage in one spot do I start organizing them into Act folders.