How to do a Timeline in Scrivener

UPDATE: I’ve since discovered Aeon Timeline which is a much better solution. I describe it in a later post in this thread.

I thought I’d pass on my simple system for having a timeline for my project using Scrivener. I was looking around for some complex timeline system, but realized that all I needed was cards with dates on them.

This system works fine for my project, and the only disadvantages are that it is not self sorting, and there’s no visual indication of the relative distances between the different scenes.

It’s very simple: I have a folder labeled “Timeline” and I put a card, with the date at the top, for every scene. I arrange them manually. It looks like this:

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The trick is that I put a Scrivener link to the relevant scene (or scenes) in the document notes for each card. Thus, I can get to that scene with a single click. I can also view the timeline and the text of a scene at once, although I don’t find that useful.

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Thus the binder shows the scenes in order as they’ll appear in the book, and the timeline shows them in chronological order.

Thanks for the tips! I’ve moved this over to that board from tech support.

+1 :exclamation:

Helpful! Thanks for sharing.

Fixed! Hanks for helping!

You’re more than elcome, brett. :wink:
Take care

Love this idea and already made my folder with the timeline. I assume each date has to be a folder for there to be a card? Also, how do you make the link from the card to the document? Thanks!

Each date has to be a text document for there to be a card. The text documents are in a folder.

I’m not sure I understood your question–Scrivener’s terminology can be a little screwy (e.g. New Text means New Text Document).

But I just created a new folder called TimeLine. Then I right clicked on it, and chose Add/New Text. I called that text document, for example, Jun 23 Blah Blah Happens.

thank you, that makes sense. I was trying to make each date a subfolder, which I couldn’t link.

TromboneAl, this is a great example of out of the box thinking, thanks for putting it out there.

My story has concurrent events taking place over a relatively short specific timeline, durations are important for me to keep straight, so I will probably still need to put something together in Excel to keep track of everything. But I have a feeling your idea will come in handy at some point!


Sounds like Aeon Timeline (I’m not related to Matt, or involved with Scribblecode in any way!) would work well for you.

Mr X

Thanks for the suggestion, Mr X

I had a peek at Aeon Timeline a couple of weeks ago, and it seemed like overkill for my needs.

Not to mention I am in the throes of the Scrivener learning curve. I am not trying to master all of the possibilities, but I am definitely trying to understand them. Taking on another piece of software may be a bit much right now.

But I do like the fact that it is integrated with Scrivener, so will probably take another look at it.

All the best,

No problem. I sometimes wonder what it must be like coming to Scrivener new in its current state of development, especially for those who are on Macs with the Mac version still ahead of the Windows version in terms of features and possibilities. But then I found Scrivener a few months before it became the commercial Scrivener 1 — Mac only way back then in 2006/7 — and I just plunged in and started typing the first document. And so I just looked into what could be done when I needed it — I don’t think there was even a manual then, nor was there the tutorial, only the support one could get from the forum — but then I wasn’t wedded to Word and the way it worked so came without preconceptions. I suppose there must be those here who still go at things like that, rather than trying to understand it before getting going. I still reckon I only use under 20% of what Scrivener can do, but that 20% fits like a glove.

And when Aeon came along … I’d been following the thread on the Scrivener forums as Matt started work on it, and then, when he put out the Aeon 1, again Mac only at that time, I bought a copy, (a) as I had been teaching a gallop through English History and I thought it would be interesting to try Aeon to help me clear my head over many of the dates, monarchs and events, and (b) to give my support to Matt in his endeavour, as I could see how useful Aeon would be to many Scrivener users. But I approached Aeon as I had approached Scrivener … just start and see what happens. So I learnt to do what I needed when I needed it, again rather than thinking I’ve got to understand how this thing works before I start. I must confess, I don’t really need it now I’m retired — unless of course I suddenly decide I’ve got a novel in me! — and so don’t open it often.

I have to say, in neither case did I feel I was up against a steep learning curve, more like a series of plateaux followed by a step.

Anyway, I wish you luck in sorting things out, however you do it.

Mr X

Mr X, thanks for the insights into your learning process.

I had never even heard of Scrivener up until about a month ago, when I downloaded the trial. I have been in the process for most of this year of plotting my first novel in OneNote. After an hour of playing around with Scrivener, I knew that I would be moving to it as my writing platform.

With software, I am an immersion learner. I like to understand and be aware of all of the possibilities up front. I have gone through the tutorial and am halfway through the manual. I created a test project to play around in and try everything. I don’t expect to come out of this process knowing how to do every single Scrivener feature fluently, but I do want to discover what all its capabilities are.

For a month now I have been using Scrivener every day for writing and plotting, and while it has its quirks, it is as worthy a platform as I had hoped, and I know the Windows version will only get better as it catches up to the Mac. I intend to produce a lot of work in this software! :smiley:


Thank you, this tip is great! :slight_smile:

Actually, I have two timelines in Scrivener. The first, above, tells me what happens during the book.

A second timeline is called my longterm timeline, and it tells me how old people are, and when things happened before the events of the book.

I’ve found this useful.

Thanks for tip TromboneAl. I have been using scenes in each chapter and it never occurred to me to set the split screen up as you have.

Thanks for sharing your lovely timeline tips, TromboneAI, and Fumio, for calling attention to this. I especially like the simplicity of your system, TromboneAI.

I often use custom meta-data. I created a metadata called “time” where, for every document in the Manuscript, I write the time with the format “aaaa-mm-gg hh:mm”. Then, when I can order scenes in outline.
But for more complicated timelines, I prefer to use Aeon Timeline.