Default title for documents

If a document has no user-assigned text for its title, it would be nice if the binder (and other places that showed its title) used something like :

  • first few words of the document text, if it exists
  • first few words of the synopsis, if it exists
  • “Untitled” otherwise

Particularly when working with smallish Scrivenings, I find I am often just duplicating the title with some identifying text from the body.


But when a document is first created, it has no synopsis or text. And really, after a document is created, Scrivener shouldn’t try to rename the documents. In general, although a certain degree of automation is good and of course the entire purpose of software, I think the user has to be left to take control of certain areas, and document titling is one of them.
Hope that makes sense.
All the best,

I agree to Sophie that the auto-titling of documents would be a great feature, but only as an option and not as a replacement of the present behaviour.

One strength of Scrivener is its flexibility, it can so easily be adjusted to a writer’s needs and the writer has not to adjust his writing process to the software as with so many other apps.

And one thing we can sure about is that with 1000 writers there will be at least 1000 different ways how they organize their texts in the binder, how big the text chunks are and what names they have.

One might use document titles like Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc. because for him every chapter must be a document. Another one might use dry categories like Exposition, First Conflict, Showdown and such.

Number three works with very tiny pieces, complete scenes at most. They won’t have any headlines in the final text and they don’t have any titles in the writer’s head. Their document titles are just for fast identification in the (probably very crammed) binder. Like in a DVD menu where you get a picture to identify the scene you want to watch, the first words of a Scrivener document like ‘Mannie lits his cigarette in the pouring rain’ say all you need. And if this could be automatized it would be a big time saver.

Neither of theses methods is better than the other. It depends on both personal preferences of a writer and the type of text he’s working on.

Maybe you have a look at how Together handles this, Keith:
– a new note is called New Note
– if it does not get renamed and has no content, it will be deleted after the user has left it [not necessary for Scrivener, I’d say]
– after the user has left the note, i. e. clicked on another item or something like that, the note automatically is named after the first n words/characters (I don’t know which and how many, seems to be kind of a trade secret) of the note
– this won’t happen if the user already has named the note manually; only new notes still named New Note will get renamed automatically
– the preferences offer the option that a note always will be automatically named after its first n words, meaning: whenever you change the beginning of a note its title will be changed too; when this feature was introduced it was the default which a lot of people understandably found very disturbing.

I’m fully aware that an storage manager/note book app like Together is different than Scrivener (if they were not, I wouldn’t use Together as I already have the mighty Scrivener). In Together I keep all the stuff that just rushes through my head, don’t know what it is for, don’t know what I could name it. First words as an identifier, some tags maybe, that’s it. And in Scrivener I work on a project. Binder and note cards help me to structure the texts. No chaos above the equator called research folder!

And I do know that automatizing has its limits. Actually, just recently I tried to convince Steve Harris, the Together programmer, to include a very helpful (context) menu called Set Selected Text As Title—heard of that one before, haven’t you?—for all cases the auto-titling does not work.

But still—as an option auto-titling of documents can be very handy sometimes.

Unless one of them is vic-k. Then there will be 1003 different ways. Then a again, pi rat may not really be conscious of organization so maybe 1002 is a more accurate number.

Sorry. Had to be done.

I believe the behavior I outlined would not change Scrivener’s behavior at all for empty documents (no text, no synopsis), or for documents that had an explicit user-entered title. I like Suavito’s analogies.

Ah, found some evidence that this request may actually be consistent with your thinking for Scrivener. If I select a bunch of text from the body of a document and drag it into the binder, a new document gets created, and is given a title from the first line of text. Perhaps what is being discussed here is a more flexible application of the same principle?

I’d like to third this feature. I was wondering why it was missing actually, when as sophie says, if you drag text to the binder, it indeed appears with the first line as the title anyway. So why not (at least optionally) make that a feature even for regular text entries? As sophie says, by making it an option, it need not affect current default behaviour.

I brought up something similar to this in another post on these boards. The ability to choose an auto-title option is perfect when you are creating a bunch of fast notes for a “notebook.” Add me to the list of people who would like this added to Scrivener.

Sorry if I repeat something that has already been said, but what I could dream of is a BUTTON similar to the one on the Synopsis card (“Auto-generate synopsis from text”). It is really handy, and would be even more handy (for me) on top of the document window.

If all you want is a button, there already is one. Well, not a “button”, but just as good. You can select any text in your document and press Shift-Opt-Cmd-T to set the title to the selection.

Isn’t a letter on a keyboard a button?

Given the above, can you have a button in software? And if not, what should we actually call those areas of pixilation that are used to trigger events in the window manager? Oh the pain in my head!

Wait, I have no head. I better stop before Linda yawns again.

Too late.