How to use graphics with Scrivener?

I have a layout designed in Apple Pages. Each chapter has a header page, which is a large graphic with the chapter number and title.

This large graphic stretches to both sides/edges. It is a background graphic. I then place formatted text on top of this graphic so that things are now layered. The large background graphic does not extend to the top or bottom of the page. There is white space in both cases.

I have a the chapter number in a circle. This circle is then sitting half on and half off the top of the large background graphic. So more layering.

How can any of this be done in Scrivener? I don’t see any shape options. I called the above “graphics” but they are actually shapes. However, I can create graphics if shapes are not possible in Scrivener.

One of the things that should be noted is that Scrivener was not really designed to be a layout-oriented writing application, but more of a, well, er, writing-oriented writing application. Some forms of RTF, which are the basis for Scrivener’s documents, support graphics, but I don’t think that’s used in Scrivener. The assumption is that you will get your writing done in Scrivener and then export the finished work to a design-oriented application, like perhaps Pages, but in a lot of places something like InDesign or XPress (if that’s still in use).

Thanks for clearing that up. That’s what I was suspecting. From that, I have more of a philosophical question.

I read over and over that you should write your book in Scrivener then paste the content into some type of layout program (i.e., InDesign or Pages)…if layout is something you need. There is this idea of separation of content and layout.

For some context, I’m working on a nonfiction book. Not a novel that looks pretty in ebook fluid/flowey format.

I don’t understand the separation concept (i.e., two apps). If you write your book in Scrivener, then paste or open the content in Pages, where you have a nicely formatted layout going on (including some graphics), everything will get mangled. I’m not using InDesign but I imagine it will be the same. Text will run across graphics. Graphics will get pushed, etc. It will be a disaster.

So I don’t understand why people say you can separate content and layout. Any ideas what I’m missing?

I do see how you can write a book in InDesign/Pages and weave layout/graphics into it. So if I want big graphics that expand to the edges for each first page of a chapter, no problem. The content is already there and I can see everything is playing together nicely. Like I said, if I try to jam content into this design/layout after the fact, it will blow up.

I want to use Scrivener since I can place each chapter into a folder. This is extremely useful vs one long document where everything is runs together (i.e., InDesign/Pages). So it looks like there is no way to get both features since these are two different worlds?

There are a couple of aspects to this:

  1. Scrivener is the work of one developer (me), unlike Pages, which has a team of developers, so I have to focus on specific features and cannot add everything.

  2. Pages does not have all of the project management features, so instead can focus on providing features for layout, graphics and suchlike. Trying to jam everything into one application leads to a bloated application.

But also, as to the separation of content and layout, then yes, to an extent it depends on what you are writing. You wouldn’t use Scrivener to write a children’s book that is all pictures and few words, for instance, or anything whose layout is as important as its content. Scrivener is very specifically aimed at writing books whose content is predominantly text. From a philosophical standpoint, it could be argued that it’s advantageous to concentrate on only the text during the drafting stages rather than worrying about secondary issues such as layout.

You can insert graphics into Scrivener, though - just not as background graphics. For that you would need to export. I don’t see how it would be a “mess”, though - take your text from Scrivener to a layout program, and from that point on you have finished with Scrivener for that program.

Just because Scrivener is fairly feature-rich and complex in many ways, it is a mistake to think that it could–or should–do everything. Applications all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and should be used for the part of the process that they are best for. It’s the same with scriptwriting - you can write and research a script in Scrivener, but for production you would take it to a dedicated scriptwriting application such as Final Draft. (Just as film-makers and photographers won’t do all the post-processing or editing in a single application, because different applications are designed for different parts of the process.)

Scrivener leaves Pages, Word et all to do what they do best - layout and final formatting - so that it can focus on all the things that they do not do, and leave you to worry about that later. That may not work for everyone, but it is how it is designed.

Hope that helps.

All the best,

Thanks Keith. By the way, nice V.I.N.CENT avatar. I always though that was a cool movie. The great sci-fi era it came out of probably helped too.

You’ve further clarified what is likely to be my workflow going forward. Given my book is not all text and layout is very important, this moves me away from Scrivener and into InDesign/Pages. I was thinking I’d need Scrivener for quality ePub exporting. But Pages can export ePub (as can InDesign) and I imagine it will do just as good a job. I’ll need to test of course.

But it does keep me from flipping back and forth between Pages and Scrivener.

Hmmm. I think you assume way too much here. There will be much going back and forth between these programs. You might think you have finished with Scrivener. But after you put your text into Word, format everything around the text/graphics, you will discover much is left to be done.

There will be more text edits. The first one is never the the last. This means back into Scrivener. And all of your formatting in Pages goes poof! Once done in Scrivener, back to Pages. Rinse/repeat until it is done. So there is this constant reformatting of text in Pages each time you think you are done with Scrivener. Again, a terrible “mess”.

Well, that assumes that you are doing the editing in Scrivener, but generally users do the final edits in the program they export the text to - so why would you not just do the textual edits in Pages rather than in Scrivener at that point?

At any rate, full layout capabilities and image arrangement won’t be feasible in Scrivener until we are bought out by a big company, at which point I’ll be sipping bellinis on a beach in Malibu. :slight_smile:

I loved The Black Hole as a kid, too - Vital Information Necessary Centralised indeed! I’m slightly concerned to hear that they are remaking it…

I see what you are saying. I guess I have a difficult time visualizing the content without the graphics. Meaning, while I’m writing the content, I’ll be thinking about, “I wonder how the chapter image header looks here” and other similar things. Because I will be thinking, “how can I make this section look better (layout wise)”. But that won’t be possible with just text.

It will be distracting to not see the layout while I’m writing…or something close to the finished product. Because I may decide I want to change the layout 1/2 way though or something. And I will want to see how that affects the content. Content and layout are very intertwined to me.

Yeah, won’t be seeing that :neutral_face:

I think you and Kevin have worked much of this out already, and so I’m only sticking my head back in here to say that in some fashion, I think, Scrivener assumes that there is a transitional moment in the workflow where a book moves from a draft stage to a production stage.

I, too, am working on a nonfiction book. It is, in fact, due to the publisher next week. The way it works when you are working with publishers, at least in my experience, is that they don’t particularly want you to insert graphics. You drop a placeholder like “Figure 8: A Map of the Territory Described” as a paragraph somewhere in the text, and then you supply your figures as separate files. This makes it easier for their designers to import your text file into whatever their layout application is and then insert your graphics when it comes time to get to publishing proofs. (The first proof is typically something that looks more like a legal document, with numbered lines so that you can specify any and all changes to the text.)

For better or worse, images and design come last.

I’m kinda like you, however. Having put myself through graduate school doing some graphic design, I prefer to see how things look – almost need it sometime – in order to have a better sense of what it is I am doing and where I am going.

And so, in that context, Scrivener could very well be a frustrating application, but I have found that the more I let the WYSIWYG side of me go, the more I can focus on what I really do have the most control over, the words. And, too, I have to trust that the designer who will eventually format my words will do so in a way that reflects their substance.

It is hard, though, to leave Scrivener’s environment. All of my recent articles in scholarly journals and books were first composed in Scrivener, and it was weird to have to leave its friendly environs for Word. it’s not that Word is terrible; it’s just that it’s not where I wrote those pieces. It felt weird.

KB, are you sure you and your brother are separate entities? Common enough mistake in these parts though. At least no one is calling you Kelly.

johnlaudun, we’ve all done it a few times. KB is Keith, the developer of scrivener. Kevin is his brother of whom little evidence is available. It is justified to assume they are one and the same for now.

The canonical use of Scrivener is to concentrate on research and organization, since that is its strength. Then when the structure is sound (but many small, copy-edit changes await), you compile to a format that your word processor can read, and finish up the final drafts using the word processor. In general this works very well as workflow.

But a word processor is a lot better at copy-editing than a layout program. The canonical use of a layout program is to begin with the text finalized, and then work out how the images should flow around the text, where the page breaks should fall, how chapter headings should look, and so forth.

So maybe the best workflow for you would be to get the structure ‘right’ (or almost so) in Scrivener, then compile to LibreOffice or MS-Word, for the copy editing phase, and only go to Pages or InDesign or other page layout program when you have your text at least 95% locked. Once in the layout program, you would leave the text alone except for the tiniest little niggles you find along the way. An awkward sentence construction that you missed in all your previous passes, for example.

If you really do need to see the layout in order to decide on structure and basic content, then maybe an intermediate program like MS-Word or LibreOffice would be a better choice for you. Or else, if you could work out a streamlined compile/import process to easily and quickly get the WiP out to your layout program, have both programs (Scrivener and the layout program) open at once, and keep compiling and checking, back and forth.

This is not so onerous as it sounds, once you get into doing it regularly. Many writers using LaTeX for example, or writing in HTML in a text-editor, will constantly be going back and forth. You write a little, then compile (or view the HTML in a browser) to consider how that looks, then go back to writing. The basic text is always the LaTeX or raw HTML, and how it looks in PDF or a browser is just a check. It can actually help your writing, as seeing the sentences in one form and then another forces you to reconsider the text with new eyes. Lots of writers of straight fiction still print out their copy in another font, for this reason.

  • asotir

Alas, a senior moment on my end. My apologies, KB. By way of explanation, I had a very good friend in graduate school whose name actually was Kevin Brown. That was some time ago, but the conjunction remains.