I want to write a book with pictures and music and I want the software to look like a book while I’m writing it. What software is best for this?

I am new to the writing scene and I am looking to ride a Noble that has pictures as well as music in it and I’m looking for the best software to use that will make it look like a book while I’m writing the book I’m an older person and this seems like the simplest way for me to accomplish my goal Anyone have suggestions?

Scrivener may not be suitable for you, based on what you say. Have you tried Microsoft Word which can handle all embedded images and music files and has views which may meet your needs to look like a book while writing.

Probably not Scrivener. Accordingly, I’m moving the thread to our forum on other software, where you may get better responses.

Are you Mac or Win?

If Mac, the free Pages WP has more DTP features than Word or Scrivener and can publish direct to ePub/Apple Books.

I am not sure I agree with the feedback I am seeing here. I have quite a few illustrations and photographs in my Scrivener document, I indent when I have to/want to, and I have styles saved for heading levels just like in Word or any other word processor. I am doing precisely what you suggest so I am using Scrivener (mac) to do just that. Scrivener’s way of doing things takes a little getting used to as you have to use the compiler to see what it looks like as a PDF. Of course, Scrivener is not a word processor. Although, once you stop trying to think that it should act like a word processor, exactly, you are going to me amazed.

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Are you embedding music files? That and the desire for something that “looks like a book” were what made me think Scrivener was not what the OP was looking for.

In any case, it’s easy enough to decide for yourself whether Scrivener will meet your needs. Our free trial is here: Download Scrivener | Literature & Latte

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The OP said, ‘looks like a book.’

That can be achieved in pages, but not Scrivener.

My books on Scrivener have something like 380 images and I had no problem writing them completely in Scrivener, but no way did they ‘look like a book’ while I was writing them.


That is a fair assumption. If you take the OP’s meaning to be just something to write out and then hit print then, yes you could say that. Pages, Word, Nisus, or even Bean will do that for you. But, if you aspire to writing a novel then first you are going to want to have good tools, and then you are going to want to use tools where the output can be accepted by an editor, agent, or publisher. I took the question as coming from someone that has never used writing software and wants it to “look like” a book in the same way someone makes a statement of generality. For myself writing in Scrivener does “look like” a book while I am writing it. I format my styles, paragraphs, and put in page breaks. I use a lot of illustrations and images, captions for those images, and I have a Table of Contents (TOC). I once was at an expert level in Word as I worked as a contractor in the proposal writing and editing business so I am very familiar with the internal expectation of what a Word Processor (WP) like Word “should look like”. It is from this understanding that I considered my response to the OP.

More than this, what I find ever so much better with Scrivener than using a WP is how many times I have selected sections of my book to read, review, and edit, used the vertical split screen mode to compare where I was repeating myself in different sections, making sure the story line was still following my main theme, or change the order of sections in the Binder by simply dragging them around to change the hierarchy. All of these things are very easy and fairly intuitive in Scrivener. None of these things are possible when working with a WP. Scrivener does far more than I use it for and it is fair to say that it’s feature set is robust. At first using the compiler took some changes to my way of thinking as I was used to just hitting command P and printing a draft. Now it is so easy it has become second nature. Which is to say, for my experience Scrivener does look like a book. However, you are going to have to shift your understanding a bit as to what that “should” look like as you begin to explore Scrivener’s marvelous writing features. Of course, your milage may very.

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You’re preaching to the choir on Scrivener.

As I said, I have written 2 books on how to use Scrivener, so I think I’m reasonable familiar with its use and its strengths and weaknesses. I’ve also written several novels.

My works in Scrivener have TOC, paragraphs etc (I don’t use styles).

I’m extremely familiar with Word from using it professionally from the very first iteration in '81 (pre Windows), and still use it today for some specific needs.

I’ve also used Pages extensively and to re-state, with its DP like features it will more readily allow the OP to visualize their book as a book without having to ‘shift their understanding’.

Pages also has extensive TOC features.

Would I use it to write a novel? No, but that wasn’t the question.

But to get back to the OP. They said they wanted it to look like a book ‘while they were writing’. Pages can do that, Scrivener significantly less so. That was the basis of my response.

I didn’t try to lecture the OP on the benefits (which are many) of Scrivener for long-form writing, simply addressed their question.

L&L staff commented ‘probably not Scrivener’ in response to the OP.

We’d be arrogant to assume that Scrivener is the only way to succeed in writing a novel. Many people successfully write novels completely in Word :face_vomiting:, I wouldn’t but each to their own.

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To address the question in a way that you many not agree with is hardly “lecturing”. Using terms like “lecturing” or “arrogant” seems a bit much. I spent many years working in the corporate team building environment and I am well aware that we all approach a problem differently. According to Myers Briggs and other psychological indicator assessments of those working within a group, some are extroverts, some introverts, some visual learners, some analytically based. In the writing world some are plotters and planners, while others prefer a more instinctive approach, writing by the seat of their pants (called pantsers I believe). My responses were describing how it works for me. As I said, your milage may vary.

Ahem. The original question was open to interpretation, and different people have interpreted it differently. That’s fine, and presumably the OP can ask clarifying questions if they like.

But arguing with each other about what interpretation is correct is not fine. Please stop.


If you’ve downloaded ‘iBooksAuthor’ before July 2020, it’s still available to you, and is a great platform for short non-fiction or how-to that has lots of images.

I used it for the first year of writing fiction, and while it does have one level of hierarchal folders in a ‘Binder’ like Scrivener, it’s pretty rudimentary other than those few advantages. Once my manuscript got sizable, it was too cumbersome, which is when I went to Scrivener.

Pages? Very ‘Word-like’, but not nearly as versatile as Scrivener (neither is Word).

I think IBA is still a worthy candidate for the sort of project you speak of. But like ‘Aperture’ and other terrific Apple programs (I spent $80 on Aperture only for it to disappear a year later), they regularly abandon things for no apparent reason.

Many of the features in iBooksAuthor are now in Pages. Not quite as focussed, but very useable.