General workflow (for newbie)

I just started with Scrivener trial, and I try to give it a serious evaluation. 28 days left. :slight_smile:

What worries me a little is that there is no more stylesheets, or so I read in the manual. On the other hand, there are powerful formatting options in Compile -> Formatting.

Let’s say I am writing articles with 3 or even 4 levels of headings. The main target audience would be magazine or book editors. Occasionally I might want to output less utilitarian, nice-looking drafts.

Is my best option to start a new document for every subchapter (levels 1-4), and write the actual chapter headings in the binder only? That way I can control heading formatting in the compile dialog. I guess I could work that way, though creating many new docs may break the flow of text (and the flow of writing, more importantly).

I actually miss the stylesheet approach. I am so used to it in Word (which I try to avoid!) and FrameMaker (very nice and logical). I miss the ability to change the outlook for all subheadings (say, heading 2) with a single command (edit paragraph style). I wonder why the stylesheets were dropped from Scrivener?

I also long to see my whole document in a single flow. Ok, I can select a “group mode” where I see all the contents of my selected group - but in that case there are no subheadings, if I use the approach where the headings are written only in the binder. Ok, usable, but mildly irritating.

I hope these ramblings make sense. I may sound critical, but on the other hand I already love many features of Scrivener.

If it’s not a setting already, there will be one to display document titles in-line when you use group mode. That may cause you some distraction though, because as it works in the Mac version (which is the target of functionality in the Windows version), you see the titles of all of the grouped files.

As for the stylesheets feature, I’ll let people who know more about that address it’s absence (though I know they weren’t dropped… just not provided by Apple).

Ok, I got it:

View -> Editor -> Show titles in scrivengings

This seems to work pretty well. One problem less, I guess.

Maybe I can adjust to Scrivener and learn to create a new “document” for each subchapter.

And I know already it is also possible to just start writing, and split later into several documents.


If by style sheet you mean purely visual stylings like bold, font size, etc., Scrivener uses the OS X text engine (the same one Text Edit uses) which doesn’t really do true stylesheeting, it just remembers a set of attributes to apply to selected text. That means if you change a particular style, it doesn’t update text you’ve already applied it to. Shift-Cmd-R or Format/Show Format Bar to show the toolbar with the styles dropdown.

That’ll work in terms of formatting text within a document, and if you save as .rtf, the formatting sticks.

If you want to automatically format stuff based on a hierarchy, it’s all in Compile Settings, and using a new document for each section, which is pretty much what Scrivener’s all about. It’s powerful and quite fiddly, but once you’ve got a format you can save it, and use it over and over.

Ok, so that is the deal. Good to know, though the answer was not quite what I hoped.

So Scrivener uses OS X:s services for text formatting. Too bad that service is so limited, otherwise the idea of OS services is so fine.

At first glance this approach - having to start a new “document” every time I want a subtitle - seems limiting, and it is not completely true what it says on the Scrivener product page: “Break your text into pieces as small or large as you want”.

It seems that Lion will not help in this respect - there will be no real stylesheets to the text engine. The new features (as evident in the new TexEdit) seem to be vertical layout, vertical ruler, new toolbar for TexEdit (almost identical to Scrivener’s format bar), and improved autosave. Slim pickings.

Oh, there is something they call paragraph style available in OS X CoreText. It seems to support spacing before, spacing after, left/right align or justified, etc. Could this provide the real stylesheet functionality we are missing in Scrivener?

For the most part, I don’t worry about headings until I’m done or nearly done. I divide into subdocuments mostly for convenience in moving stuff around, although I’ll sometimes use them if I need to work to a specific outline.

Then I either add basic text styles in Scrivener, or use Word’s style functions as the last step before sending to the editor. Using Word is facilitated by tagging appropriate spots (“Head2” etc.) or by using Word’s ability to find and replace by formatting.

Most of my writing is articles in the 3000 words or less range. For longer works, I’m more likely to have sub-documents based on the major divisions, but still use pretty simple formatting within those documents.

Trust me, the advantages of using Scrivener vastly outweigh the minor formatting inconvenience of not having Word’s tools available.


No. Those styles don’t work like Word styles. For instance, you can’t change the “Header” style and have all instances automatically update.


Well, since you can have a document consisting of one letter, that’d cover it, don’t you think?

In what way? I use this all the time, often breaking text into component paragraphs. They all look the same in Scrivenings view, so it doesn’t affect editing, but it makes organising and structuring so much easier!

Again, in what way? I could write all 45,000+ words in one long document, but why would I? If I was going to do that I may as well use Word.

Also, you can tell the compiler to treat folder and text documents differently (remember, they are all text documents really). The way I have used this is to set up my compile so that all folders get a title, but none of the text documents. That way, if I decide a section needs a title, I just change it to a folder. Simple AND easy. :smiley:

Perhaps it is the nomenclature that is confusing things. Scrivener uses the term “document” for subsections of a larger “project”. In Word, the project may be called a document and the subsections, well, “sections” I guess. But this is what makes Scrivener so useful. Having a written a book in Word where I wrote each chapter as a separate document, then brought those documents together in a mailmerge-like master document for the book itself, I cry with relief that I don’t have to do that in Scrivener. I love (love!) the fact that, as I’m writing, I can sudden’y go “Wait, this belongs in Chapter XX” and with a Cmd-K and mouse click move it to the other chapter and then keep typing. I can view just the text I’m working on in isolation, or I can view the entire project, or any combination of sections (documents in Scrivener-speak) in between.

So remember, documents in Scrivener don’t need to be stand alone documents as they would be in Word, but simply refer to sections of your larger project.

Thanks for useful tips, Katherine, Nom.

When I said it is not completely true what it says on the product page, I meant that the treatment of subtitles limits how I can split project into documents, because a subtitle always has to be on top of a document (if I want to be able to control subtitle formatting in a meaningful way).

No, the claim is correct - there’s nothing stopping you having long documents with subtitles inside them. Not having styles doesn’t prevent you from formatting everything exactly as you want. All formatting is supported within Scrivener’s editor. You would just have to reformat things manually if you decided to change the formatting further down the line (whereas styles systems automate this sort of thing). There are various issues with implementing a styles system in Scrivener, not the least of which is trying to make one work across multiple documents that the user isn’t even editing (and I must admit that I have never in my life used styles :slight_smile: ). There may eventually be a stylesheet system in version 3.0 or 4.0, I certainly don’t rule it out entirely and it’s on the long list of possibilities, but the lack of stylesheets doesn’t limit what formatting you can use. Whether you create your subtitles inside your text documents or apply them via Compile is entirely up to you; the end result will be exactly the same.

By the way, you just completely broke your developer agreement with Apple by discussing new Lion features in public - you might want to delete that paragraph. :slight_smile:

All the best,

Thanks, Keith. I think I can learn to write with Scrivener and love it. Still i think I will be glad if you can some day implement a real style system - as an alternative for some writers, if nothing else.

I am no Apple developer and thus have no agreement with Apple. All I wrote about Lion is googlable by anyone. :slight_smile:

Just noticed this in your first post:

Would View>Editor>Show Titles in Scrivenings do the trick for you?

Seems to me that you’re allowing your concerns about subtitle formatting to limit your use of one of Scrivener’s most powerful features. That seems backward… you spend, at most, a few minutes formatting, but many hours writing.


I guess this is a matter of perception. For me, this is trivial: a single key combo (Cmd-K) seems pretty simple. Since documents are really just movable sections, and they can be viewed together as a single “document” in Scrivenings view anyway, I struggle to understand the problem. I say this as a long-time and heavy user of styles in Word (I am always amazed that other people don’t use them) but most of their functionality I can get when compiling in Scrivener plus the added benefit of Scrivener’s structural superiority, stability and ease of use. While I would use styles if they were available, I don’t miss them much, and for what you want (headings for sections and sub-sections) I think Scrivener’s document system actually works better.

Spinningdoc’s tip might help: