Folding Text

I love Scrivener. And the last two questions I have asked here on the forum have been answered very well. In each case there was a feature that was already available that I did not understand was there at all. If this feature is there too then I will be happy to learn of it however, I don’t think it is.

I am using Scrivener to manage some rather convoluted information. I am working a claim with the VA and have suffered malfeasance on many levels and with many departments. This has become at least in part a large legal document with many parts. I am thinking that I need to write an outline or an overview of the many points to my story. There are so many directions involved that it has become quite confusing. Added to this, I may find an agency or a person who can help with one aspect of the case, but not another. So I need to write out my outline and I am thinking, fold and close subsections which may get in the way of my being able to focus on the narrative.

Folding text seems like a good way to do this. I have problems above the norm when it comes to the left side of my brain and organizing so I am looking for ways to make this pack and unpack easily as I read though it. As it is now I have several different story lines in several different areas and … it really is stressful every time I have to review and deliver another piece to another agency.

I suppose I could figure out a way to option click and show just certain text items, a feature I already enjoy in other areas with Scrivener. But my feedback here is that it would be so much more helpful if I was able to control sections within a Scrivener document where I could fold and unfold (pack and unpack) information which would take the outline to various depths.

To put it a different way, sometimes I need to deliver the facts (like later today) without delving into every detail or justification. And, when others are engaged, delve more deeply into the sub issues and supporting issues.

As I say, folding text would seem an ideal solution for this. Any feedback from others who have to manage large unwieldy documents and who have feedback to offer are most welcome.



Have you looked at Scrivener’s Outline mode? It allows you to expand or collapse sections of the outline as needed.


In outline mode I do not see any collapse and expand markers? I see that by option clicking I can include different text and folders but that does not help with my question. I am seeking a folding text logic within something I am writing. My goal is to include parts such as in depth explanations which would not be necessary to show in all cases.

Unless there is a feature for using Outline mode that I have totally missed?

Select the very top level Draft folder and view in Outline mode. You’ll see all of your sub-folders nested under it, and they’ll have disclosure triangles to expand/collapse the sections underneath them. See Section 11.2 of the Scrivener manual for more information.

Outline mode will not show the actual text of individual component documents, but it will show the Synopsis of each item. (View -> Outliner Columns -> and Synopsis)


What about collections?

It might prove fruitful to explore some of the selection options available in the Edit menu, as well as the outlining commands in View/Outline/, and experiment with how they react in Scrivenings. For example, one thing you mentioned wishing to do is edit the text of only higher level sections, rather than be bothered with all of the detail in their sub-sections. Ordinarily if you select ten groups, Scrivenings still shows all levels of depth, because that’s a pretty safe assumption for what most people want. You can get around that, triggering its more literal “flat selection” mode, by selecting one single file along with the groups. That can even be a blank dummy file left aside expressly for that purpose.

Unlike a folding text view, all you have left in the editor at that point is the text you are interested in working on—not a huge barrage of collapsed headings all around it. :wink: Need to see everything now? No problem, just Cmd-click the dummy file to remove it from the selection, and now you have full content.

There are other features that can be helpful here. Maybe you carefully selected 82 sections this way and don’t want to have to continually redo that selection every time you jump elsewhere. Collections are a way of storing a selection. With the 82 selected items, use Documents/Add to Collection/New Collection. You can then use that collection directly (click its header bar in the binder to load it in the editor; if you left the dummy file at the bottom that’s all you have to do), or you could use it to restore your selection, by using Cmd-A to select everything in the collection and Opt-Cmd-R to “Reveal in Binder”.

A collection can be a saved search result, for that matter. Tag your summaries with a keyword and now you can load them all up together as a “file” on demand. If you’ve ever used TaskPaper, a folding text based program, you may be familiar with that concept (although I don’t believe it lets you save a search like that).

As for navigating more easily within a Scrivenings session—i.e. compressing the effective distance between sections, although you can’t fold sections off, don’t forget Corkboard and Outliner are merely two different ways of looking at the same things you’re editing as text. Switch over to Outliner with Cmd–3 for example, click on where you want to go, and press Cmd–1 to jump straight there. That’s the kind of efficiency you get with folding text, it’s just different—you have to build up different habits.

I do not see any disclosure triangles in the manual section you mentioned or in my document?Disclosure triangles.png
I think the problem here is that solutions which assume order in advance are not going to work. Much customization in Scrivener works to adjust output as well as separating sections to maintain focus in writing. I appreciate all of that and perhaps there is a way to do this that I am not yet understanding.

The folding text option that I have requested here allows me to stay visually focused on the creation of the story as it grows, avoiding the use of logic to structure the story while I am still trying to understand it as all the pieces are still coming together. I hope this makes some sense?

I do not understand what you mean by using and deleting a “dummy file”?

You’re looking at the bottom level of the outline in that screenshot. There would be no arrows because these files have no child items to disclose. They could! Try selecting the middle one, create a file in between, and then use Ctrl-Cmd-RightArrow to indent it. Or even just make a folder in that view and then a file in it. So basically you would want to be clicking on the thing one level up from what you clicked on here. Then you’ll have “VA story outline” as a folder in the outline you can expand and collapse to view or hide detail.

The outline, and the editor view in general, are downward facing, in terms of outline depth in relation to what you click on. The higher up in the outline you click, the broader the scope of things you can work with inside the view. Clicking on Draft gives you the whole picture.

As for myself I take a somewhat haphazard approach to the binder. As ideas come to me I drop them down as cards. Sometimes I expand on the idea with some text if it can’t be explained in a synopsis. Other times I “explode” the idea file into a dozen subfiles or so, each exploring some aspect of it in depth. I can move the whole group around if I think it would work better elsewhere, maybe eventually merge the dozen subfiles into one if I feel the outline of that section of the document is no longer important and never will be. None of that has to be planned or accounted for ahead of time. Collections are still useful, agile selection techniques for building useful and concise Scrivenings sessions—that’s all stuff that gets good with quantity rather than order. It’s no coincidence either, as Scrivener was originally designed for that kind of bottom-up chaotic process. It just so happens that a system good for that can also be good for rigid, formal expansion of a logical outline, too. :slight_smile:

I will agree with you on the point of needing some kind of logic eventually, especially if you intend to use the compiler to embellish the document with titles and such based on the outline structure (arguably one could not use the compiler that way and keep the outline concept purely organic and “invisible” to the reader), but in the early phases I’m not thinking about compile formatting levels and separator settings—I’m using the corkboard and outliner for the freeform thinking tools they are meant to be. Not merely relegated to a role as representation of a final ToC in a neatly ordered indented list of topics, but whatever monstrosity I require to tame the text as it grows.

I didn’t mean to suggest deleting it. Cmd-click removes it from the active selection, that’s all. If you have five files selected in the binder and view that as an outline, you’ll get a flat list of just those items (as a “Multiple Selection”, a kind of pseudo-group). If you Cmd-click on one of the selected items in the binder, it removes that item from the selection, reducing the quantity you can see in the outliner to four.

When applied to Scrivenings, Cmd-clicking a file adds and removes its text to the session. Thus when we combine that basic concept with the trick of adding one childless file to a selection of groups to “flatten” the session, then it becomes a simple toggle for expanding or contracting the scope of the text you’re working with. Add the file, focus on the container text, just the top-level ideas, no details. Remove the file (not delete it!) from the selection and now we’re viewing a large contiguous chunk of text the same way the reader would see it.

I’m not saying these all replace everything folding text does, just some tips I’ve accumulated for getting around in a large document/outline.