Creating a glossary


I will be creating a glossary to accompany a nonfiction book I’m writing using Scrivener. I’m wondering if there is any way that the software supports sorting text alphabetically?

What I suggest doing is creating a new item for each glossary entry. You might wish to use the Compile As-Is option for these items, as that will disable any automatic titling you set up in compiler.

For workflow:

  1. Create a “Glossary” folder in the draft. Maybe give it a nice icon and add it to your favourites list for easy access
  2. When you come across a word that you wish to define, there are two routes you can take depending on how in the “zone” you are:
    • If you are flying along and just want to make a note of the fact that you need to define a word, simply select it and right-click on the word, choosing Append Selection to Document ▸ New.... Set the Destination to your glossary folder and just leave the name alone. That’s it. The word will get added as a child document to “Glossary” and you can continue typing
    • If you are working at a slower pace and feel like defining it; or if that is what you are specifically doing as an editing process: select the world you wish to define and hit ⌘L. You’ll get something similar to the above dialogue box; choose the Glossary container as the destination. If your navigation preferences are default, it will pop up in a QuickReference window and you can add the definition right then and there. You can also set the behaviour to open the newly linked document in one of the editor splits. Downside (or maybe upside if you like it) is you end up with a Scrivener Link. This may or may not be useful to you; and if you use Scrivener Links as functional parts of your compilation, you may want to stick with Append, as otherwise you’ll need to manually unlink all of these. Or, you may want all of that.
    • Once you do either of these once, the Destination field will stick, so if you are doing a lot of these, adding new words can be as easy as ⌘L + Return.
  3. Now, of course, you have a jumble of words. When you look at the corkboard or outline for it, you’ll be able to quickly see which ones need to defined by their icon. The index card synopsis will indicate which item generated it, which can be handy, and by default if you use the ⌘L method, a back-link will be added to References for that glossary item
  4. At any time, select the Glossary container and invoke the Edit ▸ Sort ▸ Ascending menu command.
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Your provided quite a good guide to simulating a glossary, still the linking of glossary terms looks too hard to be practical.

I hope that will get a glossary like feature added soon, or something similar like the ability to auto-link text from specific folders based on their names.

This can already be done if you have “and [[Scrivener links]]” enabled in the Auto-Correction pane. This replaces the “Cmd-L” method above, except it is even more friendly to use. If the word already exists, then it will be linked with no feedback as soon as you type in “]]”. If the word does not exist, you’ll be prompted to create a new glossary entry.

I don’t really see how any of this could be made smoother with a single-purpose feature, so whatever your thoughts are on the matter would be helpful in understanding why you feel the above is too difficult.

Thanks for your hint, this works perfectly.

Is it possible to preserve these “glossary links” in epub output?

All links to internal documents are stripped off, though normal footnotes work.

Internal Scrivener links become internal HTML links on .epub export, so it should work, yes.
All the best,

I now tried this:

  1. Mark a word, right click, Scrivener Link --> Draft --> Glossary (folder)

    • This adds the word to the folder and inserts a link in epub output to the folder I think.
  2. Use the wiki syntax [[word]] to create a link to a new file in the folder “Glossary”.

    • This creates a new file in the folder with the title “word” but no link in epub output.

I attached the sample project. (14.2 KB)


I followed @AmberV advise and this is good enough for me besides one little caveat: all underlying documents (one per glossary entry that is) end up in the automatically generated table of contents. I’d, obviously, prefer to only have the glossary there. How would I go about it?

Thanks in advance.

Don’t select them before choosing the commando for a ToC. Or delete the glossary-enties at the end. Do select the Container for the Glossary Title and Pagenumber Placeholder.

If you mean Compiling: create a Section Layout for a Glossary item without Page Break Separators and create a Glossary Title Section Layout for the Container with a Page Break Separator.

Thanks @AntoniDol , yes, I meant, during compilation.
I guess applying your method means I’ll have to duplicate Scrivener’s built-in template and add these glossary-related matters to it?

Yes. :wink:

Duplicatie and Edit, then double-click the Format to see the Compile Format Designer, where you edit the Section Layouts. Create two new Layouts:
Determine in a Glossary Header Section Layout how your Header looks, in a Glossary Item Section Layout how your items appear in the list. Important is to change the Separators from New Page to Empty Line for the items.
Assign the Section Layouts to the Section Types of the Glossary Header and the Glossary Item.
Select the Glossary folder in the Binder and Compile the Selection to see how it looks in the output document.
Rinse and Repeat till you’re satisfied. :wink:


Why would we need to unlink them?