Customized Columns

Hey Kevin,

Great piece of software. I’m very impressed and finding it very helpful. There is one feature that I would like to see, and that’s the ability to customize the columns in Outline view. I’m a screenwriter and by way of example, if I could customize the columns I would make an outline that allows for the following columns:
SLUG LINE (by this of course I mean INT. DINER, or EXT. PARK - DAY)
DESCRIPTION: speaks for itself.
PURPOSE: the reason for the scene, usually in italics.

all the other columns I don’t use but wish I could change some of their functionality to allow for a longer prose-type data field.

IN a similar manner, I wished that the formatting from the Editor view (see aforementioned Italics) would carry over to the Outliner synopsis view…

These are just some small things that would, I think, be handy for a great many folks. That said, you have a great piece of software here.




I’m not sure who Kevin is (well, I do have a brother called Kevin, but he has nothing to do with Scrivener…) so I’ll assume you mean me. :slight_smile: In which case - thank you for the kind words.

The question of custom columns comes up from time to time but so far I have decided against it. All of the columns in the outliner are just representations of information that can be found elsewhere in the interface - in the inspector, mainly - so custom columns would mean information that appears nowhere else. I prefer to keep it more tightly integrated. The question of custom columns also presents technical challenges I won’t bore you with, to do with determining the sort of data each column can hold.

Of the columns you would like to add, though, I wonder how “description” would be any different to “synopsis”? The synopsis area is meant for exactly that - a brief description of the scene. You can type whatever you want in there. As for “purpose”, couldn’t the label or status fields be used for this? You can rename “Label” or “Status” to “Purpose” via the Label & Status Setup sheet, and create a list of options for “purpose”. “Slug line” is perhaps the only one that is less easy to set up (although you could place it at the beginning of the synopsis, I suppose).

As for italics in the synopsis - well, the synopsis is supposed to be plain text (from a technical perspective, the OS X outline control I use for the outliner view doesn’t allow rich text anyway). Although it shows the first few lines of text from the editor by default, the idea is that for most purposes you would type a few lines of description in there.

Many thanks again for the kind words!

All the best,

Hey Keith,

If we can’t have custom columns (which I can understand), can we make requests for the specific columns we’re looking for?

The data I’m looking for wouldn’t have to be used just in the Outline View. It could be replicated in the Inspector too, and maybe even added to the Corkboard.

The data I’m talking about is a customizable date field that writers can use for the purposes of a de-facto timeline. We’d be able to quickly note when a particular scene takes place.

I haven’t seen the back-end programming for doing something like this, but maybe the user could set their own preferences for how the date is formatted (some writers might need to know the minute and second of a scene, while others might only need to know the month and year), but if not, you could always set the standard format to include day, month, year, hour, minute, and second. It might get annoying to input all that information every time you want to use the feature, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.

While there are plenty of writers out there who don’t need something like this, there are also plenty of writers who do. I’m currently in the process of trying the Aeon Timeline application, and while it’s great, and I’ll probably keep following its development, it’s just got more bells and whistles than I need. Most of the time, I’m not looking for a fancy visualization of my timeline. I just want to quickly remind myself what scene is happening when.

In the Outline, this field just becomes a column. In the Inspector, it might be filed under Synopsis or Document Notes (but not tucked into the General tab). In the Corkboard, maybe it shows up in the bottom right corner of the index card, and like the status stamp, it gets its own customizable color in the preferences.

While we can always put this information in our Document Notes or type it into each scene’s Synopsis, I just think it would be easier if this information was separated out, especially in the outline view. While it would be helpful for most writers, I think it would take away a lot of the project management frustration that comes with crafting a non-linear story.

Which would just be great.

Thanks for listening,

Hi Kyle,

The good news is that this is the one extra column that is on the list to come with 2.0. Everything else won’t be quite as you have requested (its placement in the inspector etc), but it should do what you need, and I’ve taken a note of your suggestion to have the format customisable, as it is a good point that some users will only want the hour/minute etc.

Thanks and all the best,


A related question to this older forum topic…I’d just like to move the “columns” around. E.g., put the Inspector on the far left so it’s next to the Binder column.

Is this a) already possible or b) being considered or c) a total pain to implement? Thanks.

Hi David,

Actually the columns being talked about were the ones in the outliner. I’m afraid it would be incredibly difficult to allow the inspector to be moved over to be right next to the binder, as it’s sort of hardwired into the interface files (it would also be a little non-standard). What is it you’re trying to do? I’m wondering if there’s anything specific you are doing that means you want the inspector in a different place.

All the best,

Not a big deal. And certainly not worth major re-coding. Just a personal preference: to have my eye go from the Document Name to Synopsis to Copy. Since you can add “columns” I thought you might be able to adjust their placement.

I know that the Document name is at the top of the Synopsis anyway. I just find my eyeballs jumping back and forth between those columns a lot (probably good exercise for them!) I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly. As always, your responsiveness–speed and detail–is amazing. Thanks. David

BTW: Do I understand correctly that all forums are “active” no matter how old? I was looking for information on printing synopses and found what I needed for starters. Then I figured out a way to make it work with the evil Word that made things easier for me. But, the last posts on this are pretty old, so I’m not sure whether it’s still relevant; i.e., whether it’s probably already been covered or I should throw this info up there ??

We have nothing against the necromancy of ancient posts around here! If you’ve developed some techniques that improve on old wisdom, please do post them! And yes, it is preferable to do that over creating a new thread, because not only does it resurrect the concept to higher prominence for future users looking along those lines, it keeps things together and tidy.

Part of the confusion here is semantics. “Columns” are things inside of a table, namely the Outliner in this case. The separations of the interface, while columns in common English usage, are generally referred to as “panes”, in a technical context. So while adding columns to the outliner is not too difficult, adding panes or allowing them to be shuffled around is an entirely different thing at the technical level, and Cocoa is notoriously obnoxious when it comes to managing paned views.

If it’s just that you want the synopsis on the left of the editor, you could set it up so that you have a vertical split in the editor with the corkboard on the left, so that you have binder, index cards on corkboard, and then binder. And by changing “Binder Affects” to “Left Editor” and then clicking on the button with the two arrows at the bottom of the corkboard so that they turn blue (“Selection affects alternative editor”), you can have it so that clicking a folder in the binder opens it in the corkboard on the left no matter what, and then clicking on an index card in the corkboard opens it in the editor on the right. You can see something similar in the first screenshot in this thread:

It’s not quite the same, of course, but it’s quite a nice setup.

One thing to note, by the way, is that the interface has a left-to-right flow. So, clicking on the binder opens a document in the editor in the middle (whichever editor is active unless “Binder Affects…” is set). Then the the editor content determines the inspector content (the inspector shows information about the document in the editor, or if the corkboard is visible then selecting a document in the corkboard shows that information in the inspector).

All the best,

Interesting. I’ve been so focused on moving/organizing a large draft of a Word doc in Scrivener that I haven’t spent as much time actually edting within the program. And, to tell the truth, I’m still not fully intuitive about what’s going to show up in the corkboard and/or synopsis when. I get it theoretically just not always intuitive yet. In any event, I can see how this could be a good solution when I’m spending more time editing than organizing. Thanks.

BTW: I hadn’t noticed your screenshot section in the forum…very very helpful.