Creating Working Papers from Large Project

Hello everyone,

I am relatively new to Scrivener (A colleague introduced me to it this summer). I have a question that is probably common, but perhaps is most common to people in the humanities and social sciences who simultaneously work on relatively short articles and working papers that derive from a large academic book project.

I apologize in advance for the length of this question. I have looked in the manual, but am not finding the answer to my question. Please feel free to direct me to the relevant chapters of the manual if my answer is contained there (I bet it is.), or to forum posts, videos, etc.

I have been working on a Book Project (the New Project), and have created perhaps 400 files, contained in about 100 folders. These are distributed among five chapters of my prospective long academic book on aspects of European history.

The book is still in the earlier, unpolished stages. Like many people, I like to write conference papers in part as a way of making progress with the writing of the book.

I will be giving several conference papers over the coming six months. These papers will be drawn from different parts of the book. For example, for one paper, I’ll want to borrow certain bits from my Introduction, a few pieces contained in Chapter One, a few others in Chapter Four, etc. This is true for three conference papers, which will overlap in minor ways, but will largely treat very different aspects of my research.

I would, therefore, like to “compile” conference papers, made up of perhaps 40 files scattered throughout my book project, so I can write and edit these papers.

There is an important caveat: Because I am in an early stage of the book writing, I would like any edits that I make in the files as I put together the conference papers to also be made in the Book Project. In other words, as I write the conference papers, I’d like the improvements I make in my prose, the refining of my points, etc, to be reflected in the Book Project files. I want to edit the larger book project and the conference papers simultaneously. As I produce and edit the papers, the work I do would do double duty by improving the quality of my Book Project files.

I assume there is a way to create what might be called “working papers” within larger drafts, and to be able to save those working papers, while having the edits to files I use for the working papers also be reflected in the larger book project.
I hope I’ve been clear, but I’m happy to clarify.

Many thanks in advance,


I think you can probably do this, particularly if you’re mainly going to be stitching together the interim papers from the larger work.

The basic process will be:

a) decide which documents will be used in the interim paper
b) give them a relevant keyword (‘paper1’) then take a snapshot of them so you can revert if necessary afterwards.
c) create a dynamic collection (‘Paper 1’) using a search for the keyword ‘paper1’. You can now work on your draft interim paper distinct from the main book – but the individual elements are still ‘live’ so changes are reflected in the book.
d) create a new snapshot for the interim documents with the changes.
e) compile your interim paper 1 by opening the compile dialogue and using the ‘All Options’ tab and in the Contents section under the selection drop down menu (usually showing ‘Manuscript’ or ‘Draft’), you will see all your collections – select Paper 1.

There’s a lot more you can do with this (and there are other ways to do it) – for example, you can easily add new documents that are only relevant to Paper 1. Just make sure that these have their ‘Include in Compile’ tick box unticked in the inspector.

This is a very rough and ready answer – you’ll have to experiment to get it exactly right, but I hope it shows how flexible Scrivener can be and that it probably can do what you’re after. Experiment a bit and if you have any questions (or if anything I’ve said doesn’t make sense…) don’t hesitate to ask…

1 Like