Is The Document Template Feature Redundant?

Project Templates can obviously be very useful, but is the Document Template feature redundant?

Is there any advantage to making a document into a Document Template, rather than just duplicating the document, putting it into a self-create Templates folder, and then going back and copying/duplicating that file when one wants to use it?

IMHO these two template features are conceptually identical.

To create a project template, I first have to create an empty project that has the attributes I’d like to reuse.

Instead of creating a template from that empty project, I could simply store the empty project .scriv folder in a folder and duplicate it whenever I needed to create a new project with those attributes.

At a high level, this is the same process I’d follow to create a document template.

Creating a template for either of these things provides some added convenience, but one could certainly live without it.

So I see these features as equally redundant and equally useful.


Edit: Being exceptionally lazy, I get the same result by clicking in a Keyboard Maestro palette.

Using a document template is much easier than

To create a new chapter, I click on the + icon (add) and select New Chapter (the name of my chapter template). The result is a new chapter folder and the two files inside it, complete with the section type, status, and formatting I want for each of the three documents.

Screen Shot 2021-11-07 at 16.03.01

Here they are in the Templates folder:

Screen Shot 2021-11-07 at 16.01.02

Here is the menu for it:

Screen Shot 2021-11-07 at 16.06.01

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Hi Jim,
Thanks very much for your reply.

I have a slightly different take about the Project Template (if one has not created one previously), simply because of the structure and number of different folders and documents and colour themes that some of the Scrivener Project Templates contain.

It is easier for me to use some of those existing templates, even if I am modifying them, than it is to spend the time (and thought!) creating templates that might be quite involved or detailed.

Hi drmajorbob,
Thanks for this.

I suppose that I should have included in my original question the number of actions / commands it takes to create the document which one is making into a template.

Unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying, it seems that the difference between creating a document and making a template of it (and then subsequently activating the template when needed) involves the same amount of effort involved as opening a Templates folder, and duplicating an existing document.

(And I am exceptionally lazy, too :slight_smile: )

Sure, I completely agree with you about the templates that come packaged with Scrivener. But I interpreted your question/observation to be focused on the template features themselves, not on the usefulness or lack thereof of the prepackaged templates, so I assumed we were talking about starting a template from scratch.


No, it does not. It’s possible to set a default template which will be used for all new documents in either a project or a specific folder. For instance, you could assign a Character Sheet template to all new documents in your “Characters” folder.

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Hi Jim,
You are quite right - my original question was focused on the advantages (or otherwise) of making a template out of a document, and then using that (when needed), versus just copying that document and using the copy.

I don’t understand that sentence.

Creating a document from a template is much easier than creating it without a template.

Ditto for creating projects.

Not true.

Creating a document, is creating a document.

If I already have a document (which may contain exactly the same structure and information as a template of the same document), it is just as easy to duplicate that document and to start working on it, as it is to use the template command to produce the document, and to start working on it from there.

In fact, invoking/executing the template command is simply another way of producing a duplicate of the original document.

You’re saying you can create a new document, with all its subdocuments and their settings, in one keystroke (with Keyboard Maestro) or two clicks (with the menus)? Without a document template?

If you can, that thing you’re duplicating is still, in both effect and intent, a document template.


Thank you, I’d forgotten this feature. I’d tried it at some point, years ago, and it didn’t seem to work as expected (my fault, no doubt), but now it does. I also went to Preferences and told Scrivener to create new documents as siblings of the selected document.

Now I can click on a chapter, press enter, and get a new one.

Document Templates have some additional wiring in the UI that allow you to more quickly use them.

Section 7.5 in the manual talk more about how to make use of them.

I would say that depends a lot on whether you would need to do that once or twice, now and then, or over and over. If it’s just a one-off, then sure the process of duplicating the item into the Templates folder and then going back and using the template is too much overhead. But what if you intend to make dozens of these items over the lifespan of the project?

Another important divergence between the two is where you need to be in order to create the duplicate. With Documents ▸ Copy To ▸ (or even Duplicate, but that is almost always going to be less efficient unless where you need the new item is right beneath where the original is) you have to locate the original in order to duplicate it. With templates you don’t even need to be aware of where the original is, you can spawn a new copy right where you need it from the universally available menu command, add button, or even keyboard shortcut (the first template in the list gets a dedicated shortcut so it’s as easy to create as any empty item is).

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Document templates have a huge range of functional use besides duplicating one document over and over. For instance, I once toyed with writing a comic book, and played with my own Scrivener document templates to support how I’d want to structure the binder:

One document for each 2-page spread
→ Two folders for the facing pages: “Left” and “Right”
->->A document in each folder describing the page layout and other bits
->->-> A document for each panel of that page

Most if not all of the above would have boiler plate text describing that part of the comics issue (how many panels should be on that page, for instance, using a placeholder variable that counted child documents).

Each of the above was a template. And I made use of the default new document template feature on the templates themselves so that I could start at the base of my drafts folder, hit the ENTER key to get a new folder for a new comics issue, hit ENTER within it to get my first 2-page spread documents, go into one of those, hit ENTER to create my first panel, etc…

I long ago abandoned the idea, but had I moved forward, I would have duplicated my finished comics project, stripped out all of the text specific to the original, and created a project template so I could share it with others who might be interested, or just so I could start another series/story arc.

If document templates aren’t useful to you, then by all means, ignore them. But implying that they’re redundant is making a huge assumption about how other people use (or might use) the tool.


Thanks very much, AmberV.

You make some excellent points here.

Hi Rdale.
Thanks for your thoughts, and very interesting example, about this.

My question, and ‘sub’ questions were genuine ones ; no implication about redundancy intended (perhaps this is where the fine line between implication and inference exists).

I wanted to hear how others might use the Document Template in ways that I could not understand or imagine, and this thread has been very useful for the responses people have given to that question.

Thanks, devinganger.

Thanks for your reply, Katherine.