How would a news writer/journalist use this?

I have been playing with Scrivener for several days now and am simply in love. Something about writing in Scrivener just feels so right. And the full screen mode - no one does it better.

However, I am not a book author, playwright or writer of long technical articles, etc. On a daily basis I write 3-10 articles, but they are all short news stories (around 500 words). A few times a week I may also write longer columns (1000-3000 words), and in the future I plan to create some teaching courses.

Now, I can definitely visualize how to wrap Scrivener around a teaching course project. But I also want to use it for my shorter day-to-day writing. I was wondering if anyone else whose writing schedule is similar to mine is also using Scrivener, and if so, how are you organizing yourself in this magnificent application?

I think Scriv sounds perfect for what you want to do, but I haven’t done any journalism for a few years. You may be interested in this thread: … php?t=1924

Thanks, antony. I see from that thread that there are several journalists and news writers using Scrivener.

I am interested to know how those writers are organizing their writing in Scrivener. I have some ideas on how to do it for my particular needs, but want to make sure there is not a better way, or that I am not trying to shoehorn a certain way of doing things into Scrivener that it was not made for.

Hmmm, I do seem to have found one potentially large problem with doing this kind of work in Scrivener. I am unable to sort my articles by date in the Outliner table view.

This is by no means a complaint against Scrivener - I understand it was not really made for this kind of work.

Perhaps instead of having one Scrivener project for all my short news articles, I need a separate project for each one? Seems like overkill for 500 words, though.

For me, it varies depending on the size of the project. For my regular columns or other short (<1000 wds) pieces, I create an annual project and call it something like " stories 2008." In that project, I set up a separate research folder for each story, and into that goes press releases, stories clipped from the web, etc. I create each draft in the draft folder and give it a slug like “column 2-17” or " 2-5" ; the file names aren’t so important anymore thanks to Scrivener’s keywords and spotlight. When writing, I split the screen vertically, with my notes (from the Research folder) on the left and the draft article in progress on the right. I seldom outline those short pieces. I write the thing, export draft, and email the draft to my impatient editor.

For longer pieces, I use a separate project for each story. I outline each draft by creating lots of little files in the Binder, and treating them as outline points. I used to use a separate outliner (OmniOutliner), then I started making a separate outline document in Scrivener, until I realized: the beauty of Scrivener is that the outline IS the story. Now, I just write each little section (using project and document notes as necessary), which might be just a paragraph or several pages, then rearrange them in the Binder, then Edit Scrivenings, clean it up, then Compile Draft, export, etc.

One of my new year’s resolutions is to use Scrivener’s Corkboard, References, and hyperlinks more. I’m sure they would make my work more efficient, at least, but I just haven’t broken some of my pre-Scrivener habits yet. Or maybe I just work better using the Binder than the Corkboard because I don’t generally need to see more than the title of the card/outline point when working this way.

I described working on a really long magazine piece using Scrivener last year here.
Hope this answers your question, but I’m happy to try again if it doesn’t. And I make no claim whatsoever that I’ve arrived at the ideal article production process; in fact, I’d be grateful to hear suggestions about how to improve it. I’d love to experiment with Scrivener more but I’m usually under such deadline pressure that I don’t have time. And I still haven’t read the manual (i.e. help files), just the tutorial. So I’m sure there’s lots of room for improvement, and I hope others will share their methods here.

I’m no journalist but Scriv has served me well in a project that breaks up in similar ways.

I’m involved in a daily Creative writing project, where the aim is to write and post a piece of microfiction written in no more than 30 minutes. I write a daily entry (so do several other authors), and I maintain all of the entries inside Scrivener.

The way I set the project up was, essentially:

  • Folders to split the stories up by month (you might do it by week, given that you’d have more stories)\
  • One document per story - the ‘Date Modified’ and ‘Date Created’ fields let me sort through the stories for a month
  • I used the labels to identify authors, and status to keep up to date on where a story was in it’s publication lifetime - drafted, under edit, subedit, posted, archived, etc.
  • I use keywords to a lesser degree to tag up various miscellaneous statuses - you know: ’ crazy tuesday expo’ ‘for print collection’, etc.

After that, search was my friend. You can use search filters to only show unpublished work, or only show stories by particular authors, or only show stories for a certain keyword. It made organising the masses of content going in and on the project’s website much easier than it would have been otherwise.

I also use Scrivener for writing novels - but I think you’d find it works out great to support the sort of small-but-regular writing that journalism demands.

How do you do that? One of the problems I have run into in using Scrivener for organizing my shorter articles is that I cannot get it to sort by date.

An easy workaround would be to include the date in the name of the file. Use the form yyyy-mm-dd to make date order and alphanumeric sort order the same.

Also, have you tried changing the viewable columns in the Outliner? Go to View > Outliner > Columns.


In doing my journal in Scrivener, I found that you can insert the date (and time) both in the body of the entry and also as the title. This is for us people who have shoveled so much snow we can no longer remember what day it is. There is even a keyboard shortcut for this (the entry, not the snow).

I find Scrivener extremely valuable for all kinds of writing tasks. I will even be paying for it as soon as I get my MacBook paid for. If only it had a module to keep writers on task…

I’m using a single project for journalism, separate projects for book length stuff. I organise the journo folders by the publication: Lrb, Sunday Times, Observer etc and then each piece I do is a file in one of them by title in the order of doing them. Though I could have dates as titles. Then I have notes and info in matching research files and have them up, vertically, beside the file I’m writing.

When I’m working on my book, I use the binder to organise chaps as folders and sections as files, and have the outliner open beside the file I’m working on to keep the shape in my head, and document/project notes available in the inspector.

But I still feel there’s some elusive, magical way of working that’s just right, and I haven’t seen…Ditto not using the corkboard or keywords very much.

I use Journler for short stuff that I need to keep organised (by destination) or by idea, Tinderbox for organising ideas and reorganising/revisualising, and then Scrivener for everything else. I find its real power is in the ease with which you can restructure your work on the fly. If you have flies, obviously.

Pip pip!

Exactly that :slight_smile:

When you add ‘date created’ and/or ‘date modified’ as columns in the Outliner, you can then sort by said fields. The viewable columns can be modified by the ‘…’ icon to the right of the column headers.

I’m sorry, I am still lost on this one. In the Outliner I have only the title and ‘date created’ fields showing. However, I cannot get Scrivener to sort by the date field. Clicking on the header of the date field - which in other programs would cause it to sort by that column - does nothing. And the “Sort” option in the “Documents” menu only sorts alphabetically.

ryanjones, your work requirements sound exactly like mine. As another sprinter of the writing world, I’d love to adopt Scrivener as my sole writing tool of choice, but for the moment it’s Mellel for newspapers, Scrivener for magazines.

My main problem with Scrivener for newspaper work is that its export options are limited. I can’t export directly to a Windows-ready text file, as I can in Mellel, so I have to go through the additional step of converting the Scrivener export files to Windows format. Someone more computer-savvy than me could probably so this in an instant, but I have a ponderous automator process that seems to go forever. It’s a small matter, but it’s enough in the heat of a newspaper deadline.

I also find that Scrivener doesn’t yet cut it as a serious research information repository. It doesn’t harvest information as easily as Devonthink (hotkey), it doesn’t keep web and email URLs associated with clippings (unless you want to do a web archive, which I seldom do); and you can’t have windows containing reference material floating around your desktop, which I find easier to access than hopping around Scrivener’s split panes.

The concept of keeping all story reference material in Scrivener, along with written articles, is attractive, but I’m not sure it can work for a journalist on a beat. I’m writing a lot on climate change, for instance, and have a huge amount of material stuffed away on everything from oceanography to peak oil. In a single Scrivener file, it would become unwieldy and meaningless. In Devonthink, I can quickly get some sense out of it all.

So, to summarise a windy response: Scrivener is a brilliant writing tool, but I’ll stick with Mellel unless Keith cares to put his genius to Window-friendly file exports. And I’m not sure Scrivener will ever be suitable for the volumes of reference material harvested by a journalist working on the same theme year after year.

But for magazine work, where you do a story on a specific subject over a longer period - that’s a different matter. This is a role to which Scrivener is perfectly suited.


You do? I email Scrivener-generated RTF files to Windows users all the time. Never had a problem.


Good overview of Scriv. for newspaper writers. I used DevonNote with Scrivener for the first year or so in my magazine and newspaper writing, before finding that I could use Scriv. exclusively. (I keep a lot of reference files around, too, but usually just keep in rtf format and bring them into Scrivener as needed per project.) For your uses, it sounds like a Devon-Scrivener tandem would be ideal. Keep everything in Devon, then bring into Scrivener only those files you need for a particular story.

I’ll leave the Windows friendly export issue to someone who actually has to deal with such things (ah, the joy of living in a Mac only universe). I do a lot of web and email clipping in Scrivener using a hot key and the Services menu so I’m not sure how Devon works better t here.

There are workarounds to the other issues you note – use Stickies or some such if you need lots of reference material floating around your desktop; paste URLs into the references pane of a Scrivener document, etc. – but all of them take an extra step or two that can be annoying on deadline. I remember someone else asking for URLs to be automatically pasted into a document’s notes or references, but can’t recall whether Keith plans to include that feature in a future version. It would save a step if the URL were to automatically travel with the clip.
So, by all means keep using Devon – it’s a really great tool for exactly your sort of needs, and I’m happy to have it available for my book research if storing the massive volume of info in Scrivener becomes too unwieldy. But I hope you’ll be able give up Mellel, as I did, and use Scrivener for actual story building and writing.

Go to and download TextWrangler. It’s free and an amazing powerful text tool.

Download the attached zip file and decompress it. The resulting file is an AppleScript droplet.

Install TextWrangler and launch it once to get through all the welcome business.

Write your column.

Export it to text.

Drag the resulting text file(s) onto the droplet (


Note: This CONVERTS the text file to Windows line endings. It does not create a new text file. Not really kosher but you’re moving fast, right?

Dave (22.5 KB)

Yes, I second Katherine’s observation. Never had a problem with sending .rtf or .doc files to Windows users. And Apple’s Mail has a checkbox, in the Attach dialog, “Send Windows-friendly attachments” which may add extra security.

Matt, Long ago on this forum, we had intensive discussions about research versus writing tools, and most agreed that DT products are great for warehousing data, while Scriv is a outlining and drafting tool. The Research folder can be handy, but it’s not intended to hold all of a writer’s data, especially if it’s for use in multiple writing projects. And as I and others have noted, there’s no problem in exporting RTF docs from Scrivener to Windows users. If you’ve had trouble, it may lie with your recipients. --Droo

Yes, definitely, to the second part, but I don’t think Scrivener was ever intended to act as a total information repository. For that, you need specialist tools. I use Yojimbo for web capture, and Papers (excellent app) to manage all my pdfs. Then, when I need to work on a piece, I can take into Scrivener the background I need.

I do a lot of climate change stuff too (see Hot Topic link in sig), and there’s a huge amount of stuff to get through on a daily basis, just to stay in touch. I need to be able to sort and search and all the things that programmes like Yojimbo and Papers (and others, just as good I’m sure) are designed to do.

Pip pip!