How to reuse a single paragraph across different project?

I have a paragraph which will appear in more than multiple writing projects. I hope this particular paragraph could be reused in different projects with reference, which means, when the paragraph is modified in one project, the update is seen in all the projects referencing the paragraph.

Anybody know how to realize this? Thanks!

There is no support for text includes in Scrivener, short of using linked custom meta-data or something similar, but this cannot span between projects.

Thank you!

I wondered whether it might be possible to do this using sync. Create a collection containing the one file, sync only that collection to an external folder, create a collection in another project and sync that collection to the same external folder. Alas, Scriv would not allow me to do this.

  • asotir

That’s because it is nearly always going to be the case that every project will be using a different ID for that paragraph item. You would end up overwriting other sections of the binder with this paragraph because Project A assigned it to 18, but Project B is using ID#18 to store chapter eight, while Project C is using ID#18 to store a todo list.

Makes sense. Thanks AmberV.

I also looked into including a file that was just a link to a text file. but the Compile only included the link, alas.

One thing I love about LaTeX and TeX is the ability to include files that are boilerplate, across a number of books or articles. An “Also By” page is one example, another is “About the Author” LibreOffice/OpenOffice lets you do this too, so I imagine there is a facility in MS-Word for it as well.

Still (back to Scriv) it is easy enough to have a “Boilerplate” project that has all these as separate docs, and just pull them from one project’s binder to another. The drawback being that the master docs when updated must be re-dragged into all the child projects.

  • asotir

If your texts are that closely linked, can you have one project to rule them all? Series authors can (and some do) keep multiple books in the same project because the share common characters, settings and other “research” material. Could you not do the same, including the same file(s) in different collections?

I was only noodling. But say an About the Author page is going into every single book, if you are an author: then all your books in the same project would get to be a pretty big project. And if anything went wrong with that fileset, you might lose everything. Plus this would mean a separate collection to be compiled for everything you write.

And the complexity only increases say if a small publisher with several authors were trying this.

There is no way around it, is all. Just drag the common files into the binder of each project, or else deal with the problem post-Scriv, seem to be the best ways to handle it.

  • asorit

That’s how I handle it, post-Scrivener. Or rather, I don’t use Scrivener in a way that is distinguished from using LaTeX, and so tossing an \input into a file in the Binder works seamlessly.

But it would be kind of messy to do this with Scrivener, given how storage is designed. Would compiling go into another project and extract data out of it? What if it is open? How would project A know where project B is, full-path links? Those are fragile. It would almost make more sense to have some kind of dedicated boilerplate feature, like something hinged on a universal component such as Scratch Pad, than making it project-based.

Isn’t this what templates are for?

True, a template change won’t update existing projects, but I think it’s questionable whether you actually want it to, anyway. At least for me, once a project is published to the world I consider it “frozen” and archive it. If I update it in the future, I create a new version. Having a mismatch between my version and what’s out there in the world poses all kinds of potential problems.


For Katherine:

The examples I use most for reused bits of text in my books are the “About the Author” and the “Also By” sections, which do change over time even if the text of the story does not. I also see in old books (say from1905) a back section of ads – other books offered from the publisher – which also change.

With ebooks, these can be updated through links to a changing website. But it would still be nice to have these sections current in the text the reader has in front of her.

Reusable text is just one of those things that computers can do easily as writers’ assistants to save time and trouble overall.

For AmberV:

I had not thought of the question of numbering and the place a text needs to hold in the document. So you are right, that is a hard nut for Scrivener to crack.

I wonder, though: there are a couple ways this might be done, and are being done in Scrivener now, unless I mistake how the program handles things. One is the Frontmatter folder. It seems to me a Backmatter folder could be done as easily, and would help academic writers who use appendices, notes and the like. Another is the symbolic link to image files. Could not this facility be expanded to include rtf files? There is also the Sync to External Folder which could have a sister that allows for a placeholder that links to some external file, and the placeholder could then be inserted anywhere in the text.

Still and all, I don’t need these things in the way I use Scrivener, and handle my own reusable-files needs post-Scriv in the prep and publishing phases.

  • asotir

Right. I’m not saying they shouldn’t change, I’m just questioning whether you want to automatically obliterate the previous version, as opposed to a more manual process of dragging the old version out and the new version in. For instance, you might want to think on a case by case basis about how big a change needs to be in order to trigger an update: you’ll drive your readers crazy if you push new text to them, and it turns out all you did is add one more item to the “Also By” list. Since you have to open and re-compile the project in order to make a new e-book anyway, the time saved by an automatic update wouldn’t be that substantial.

From a marketing perspective, I would think that you would want the “Also By” section to lure the reader to your site, but that’s sort of a separate question.


How about creating a project that is nothing but individual chapters/documents such as “About the Author” , a separate chapter for “Other Books by this Author”, another chapter for “Colors Most Enjoyed by this Author,” and whatever else you wish? You’d create a new document as needed in your new project, and then copy and paste these boilerplate “chapters” into your succeeding projects?

As you make changes in your boilerplate (add the titles of new books as they’re written, a new paragraph about your latest…whatever), copy and paste that boilerplate back from the future project to the original boilerplate project, such that you replace the original, outdated boilerplate with the updated information. Not automatic (too bad), but it will work.


Could you put this in a project template’s either as front matter or as a document template? Would only work for new projects creating using the template. Otherwise drap-and-drop between projects is probably the way to go.