It there a way to do simple outlines?

I have some writing projects where I need one of the documents to be in outline format. By this, I mean just a text outline, not Scrivener’s excellent project outline format. This is something most word processors handle fairly easily, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do an outline in Scrivener. I can do levels of bullets, but it remains a bullet at every level rather than a I, A, a, etc for each level.

I’m assuming their is a limitation from Apple’s default text editor that Scrivener uses. Still, I thought I’d ask and see if there’s any way to create an outline document. I’m using Scrivener for more and more projects and this is one feature I need in several of them.


You can choose to have numbers etc instead of bullets, yes. In the ruler (cmd-R to show it), just choose from the “lists” menu, or go to Text > List… and select the sort of outline you want from there.

It’s not as good as the ones in dedicated word processors as it is just the one built into the text system which Apple haven’t updated since Tiger, but it should be okay for basic outlines.

Hope that helps.
All the best,

Thanks. I have tried that but the problem is that it only uses numbers or numerals for the first level of the outline. Once you tab in, it’s all bullets. I guess I’ll have to do it manually with tabs. I was just hoping I had missed something…

When you’re on the tabbed level, select the “Lists” thing. You can change it there.

That’s a little manual, but it does work. I suppose I could save it off and cut and paste it to get a new outline going. Thanks for the tip! I know this is more of an Apple thing than a Scrivener thing but I was hoping someone else had figured it out.

Outlines are merely tab settings.
If you’re not wed to the so-called Harvard system
I, A, i, a, etc
You may just set tabs for every 3 or 5 spaces
and hit the Tab key for Heading 1, 2, 3, etc.
However, there are many good Mac outline programs.
One is Opal, the revived version of Acta.
More powerful is Omni Outliner.
Pages now does outlines; check my posts for a template.
And then there’s Word…
I always thought its outliner was the best feature.

I thought Pages could do it, which I have, but I mostly use Pages just for brochure and newsletter layouts.

When you say check your templates is there some sort of Scrivener template you have to do outlines in Scrivener or are you referring to something for Pages? My whole point is trying to get the outline as part of the Scrivener project, not necessarily in a Pages doc.

It’s an outline template for Pages users.
If you insist on making an outline in Scrivener,
You’ll have to use the List style, as others have noted.
If you use an external editor and export the file in OPML format
Scrivener will import it and preserve your outline structure
In the Binder, as discrete elements.
That would be my preference, but suit yourself.

It is a bit painful, I agree - another user had this problem recently. But once you have added a different type of list marker to each level once, it will be remembered - uh, until you start a new list again. I would love to be able to provide settings for next lists such as Harvard style, but unfortunately there is still no public way of doing this in the text system - everything those list boxes and pull-downs do is handled internally by Apple code to which I have no access, and this hasn’t changed since Tiger. It means that - really annoyingly - developers have no way of improving the not-exactly-great list options that are built in. Sorry.
All the best,

Thanks for the help.