Looking for a panel with formatting

I have been writing using Nisus, a word processor. I am now trying to adjust to the Scrivener way of doing things. One thing that is bugging me is that, I used to be able to easily make adjustments to line spacing, lists, and indents using a pop out panel on the right side of the document.

Scrivener seems to be completely focused on the pull down menus on top. Unless I am missing something, I was hoping that since Scrivener has a right side information panel and several options to view things in that right panel (synopsis, document bookmarks, general metadata and keywords, snapshots, and comments and footnotes), that there might have been a formatting panel there as well.

I realize that Scrivener seems to be focused on its top menubar menus as my recent question on capitalization shows. Perhaps this comment will come to naught, but it really would be very nice to have such a formatting bar on the right side.

Simple answer, no and there never will be. The nearest that you can get to it is to set up your styles and then you can float the styles panel (Format > Styles > Show Styles Panel). The inspector is there for other metadata, notes, snapshots etc. The text editing tools are all in the menus and menu-bars, many of them available through keyboard shortcuts.

I’m a great fan of Nisus, so I know where you’re coming from, but Scrivener is a very different kind of application. I hope you’ve gone through the interactive tutorial, when matters like what’s in the Inspector—as well as much else—should become clearer. Scrivener and NWP are a fantastic combination.

Welcome to the Scrivener world anyway. :slight_smile:


Hmmm … I don’t agree with never. Yes, I am still quite new to gaining an understanding of how Scrivener does things. I have worked as a technical writer and editor before. I understand how to make Word sit up and beg if needs be. I know about putting formatting into styles and then using styles. I think that is a mature and very useful feature in Scrivener and as you say, it should remain.

However, please allow that for some of us, me anyway, linear organization schemes can be very problematic. For myself, I need visual cues, especially when I am trying to learn a new system as I am now doing with Scrivener. I realize that the right sidebar has specific functionality already. I am not trying to change that.

All I am suggesting is to have one additional choice in that right panel. In that added panel would be everything related to text adjustment including indentations, tabs, paragraph spacing, list formatting, etc.

Why you say? Well, yes, all of it is in the menus … somewhere. A new user is going to find it a bit frustrating to search out how Scrivener does things. Going to a single panel on the right side would do two useful things. One, it would allow the new user and the visually oriented user to be able to easily locate Scriveners many text specific tools in one logical place. And two, it would begin to habituate the new user to the other useful things that can be done in that far right panel, things I am still ignoring and which I am sure you are well versed in already.

I don’t want to change how others work. I am simply and humbly suggesting that this idea might help some of us get on the Scrivener bandwagon a bit more easily.

Firstly, I’m just a very long-term user, not a member of the support team, let alone developer. My comment was based on something KB wrote quite a while back about the philosophy behind Scrivener’s UI, when someone was asking for some change to the inspector. I don’t think formatting controls fit within that, and so I reckon it’s highly unlikely.

Secondly, I will admit that I may be wrong in that prediction, and the best way to test it would be to post this in the Wish List forum. KB does listen and does change his mind … years back I was resigned to what I understood to be the case, that Scrivener would never have styles, so I developed my own work-around with help from Martin at Nisus; but now we have styles.

In NWP, I have most of my palettes on the left, but I have the Styles palette floating on the right. I’m also someone who uses keyboard shortcuts by preference, and generally in both NWP and Scrivener, once my styles are set up, I hardly ever look at the formatting palette/bar.



Note that all of the functions currently appearing in the right sidebar are related to some form of metadata. They are about the file, rather than changing the contents of the file itself. So while some form of formatting panel may be useful, the existing Inspector is probably not the place to put it.

The formatting tools can already be found in a single place: the Format menu. I don’t speak for Keith, but I’m not sure about the benefit of duplicating those functions again by grafting them onto the Inspector panel.


Indeed - nearly everything that you can do in the sidebar of something like Pages can be done in the formatting bar that runs along the top of the editor just below the toolbar. There would be no advantage in moving this into a sidebar - all it would do is take up more space.

But more importantly, the sidebar - the Inspector - already has a very specific purpose: it inspects metadata of the currently selected document, the one shown in the editor. It shows its synopsis, notes, comments, keywords and so on. It would be very, very odd to add something like a formatting pane into the Inspector in this context, because it would then be mixing up two entirely different uses. The sidebar in Pages and other word processors (such as Nisus) makes sense, because these apps are based on creating and formatting a single document, so all of the surrounding UI focusses on that. Scrivener’s focus is not on formatting - although those tools are there - but on constructing a long text using synopses, outlines and such, and so the surrounding UI is directed at that.

This is why Scrivener’s sidebar will never feature a formatting pane - because it would be entirely out of place there.

You can just as easily make adjustments to the line spacing, bullets and such using the formatting bar, though, and the ruler is at hand for changing indents.

All the best,

Strictly speaking, no, you can’t. Even with Word, the big daddy of all word processors, you can customize that upper bar to your heart’s content. With Scrivener, you can see some choices, yes, but you have to select “Other …” in the list or line spacing drop down menu selections before you can get closer to what you want. This is not the same thing as seeing it laid out in a single place.

An example of this is the line spacing menu in the upper bar. The “Other …” section gives a proper layout box so that you can make more than one adjustment in more than one area all at the same time. This would be helpful if it were available without having to find it using an “Other” menu selection.

I understand that Scrivener defines its use as different from text or word processors. However, Scrivener does in fact make use of many of the same text manipulation features as applications designed for manipulating text. Please understand that it is not the purpose of Scrivener that I wish to debate, but only the method of access to the features that the writer is using with Scrivener.

I was suggesting the far right panel as it is already included in the programming and I was thinking this would be a natural use of the user’s eye turned toward the right panel. If this is not the vision of the developer then a floating panel could also work. The point I am making is that for many, a visual representation of the choices that can be made all in a single place makes better sense than remembering which menu contained which choice, and in some cases, sub-choice.

I have had to struggle from many years with some disability issues. I find it very challenging to think sequentially. When I have to get off track and hunt for menus or sub menus to take care of a formatting issue, by the time I have searched for the answer, found and applied a solution, it is very hard to shift my focus back to the writing and … my writing suffers.

I realize that Literature and Latte is a British company and I don’t know if there are similar laws on the books as we have in the US regarding the ADA or, Americans with Disabilities Act. I am in no way making a punitive suggestion, but attempting a compassionate argument for why this makes some sense. Before ADA became law, it was not common to see wheel chair ramps leading to commercial businesses. The bathroom/toilet/loo area was often too compact for a person with a wheel chair to use. Business owners would argue, “I am fine with it the way it is, why should I have to change just so somebody with a wheelchair might someday use my product”?

I realize that Scrivener is a writers tool and that is why I have had a license to use it for as long as I have had one. I understand that it is designed for helping me with skills in writing that I have yet to explore. But, I also know that Scrivener has some built in complexity that is not always needed - as I am trying to argue for in seeing a more complete panel or floating panel with the ability to make several choices all at the same time for some selected text, line spacing, indents, list or no list, etc.

I have worked as a technical writer and editor. I understand well the idea of using a style to keep a document consistent. I understand that setting up the style is an important part of using a style based system. I also understand that, if you want to have a system that uses styles to define your text layouts, then you also need to make all the tools available all in a place to get the style properly set up. Once again, it makes no sense to define a style and then to have to go into several menu options to put a style into right order.

And, to mention it, when making a list, there is very little customization that can be done in Scrivener. That is, Scrivener will allow a change of a bullet, a number, letter, etc. I can prepend an enclosing marker, add a prefix and or a suffix and change the starting number. But I have no control to truly customize a list as I cannot change the list indent, the hanging indent, or the line spacing of the list. And since I cannot do this to a list then certainly I cannot create this as a style for a list. I can convert a list into text and alter the indents, etc. But then, it is no longer a list. Hitting a return will no longer allow Scrivener to consider that I am adding to the list and continuing to create the contiguous numbering of the list and the same indent I have customized for the list.

I think Scrivener is a very fine writer’s program. I am now fully embracing the use of Scrivener in my writing process. As I do not do well thinking linearly, as previously mentioned, I suspect I will not be making much use of Scrivener’s synopsis feature until I am quite a bit farther down the road. Right now, I must adhere to visual cues which was the reason for my initial post after all, to see a right hand menu fly-out (or floating panel) similar to not only writing programs, but most photography programs as well. Adobe Acrobat and Nisus certainly do this.

I offer my thoughts here to be constructive. I hope I have been clear with my objections? If there is anything that I can clarify, please ask.


Post Script: I have just created a quick mock-up to illustrate my point.

Scrivener Line Spacing Other Customization Options.jpg
Scrivener List Customization Options.jpg

You don’t really know that “many” would like a formatting pane in the Inspector, do you? You do, I don’t, so we’re equal numbers, right? :smiley:

As KB writes, you can have visual representation for many formatting options in the toolbar, which is customizable. Have you looked at that? And about formatting versus writing and losing your line of thought, maybe you should try not to bother with formatting while writing and focus on the text only? I come from decades of using Word, and Scrivener has helped me to focus on the content and not the appearance of the text.

Some of the issues you see come from the fact that Scrivener uses standard Apple controls for much of the formatting. For example, if you open TextEdit, you will see that it has the same issue with line spacing commands: to get to the full dialogue box, you have to click on the menu then on ‘Other’ or ‘Show More’. Similarly, AIUI the list and bullet system is mostly Apple’s own, not a Scrivener invention.They’re probably not something which can be rewritten easily – Apple uses different, proprietary, code for Pages. So you’re probably asking for a lot of extra work to provide functionality which is already available in a number of other ways. Only the developer can say whether that fits into the plan or not.

Scrivener has moved far beyond Apple’s controls in some ways (the new Styles system, for example), but how far you go in rewriting such features must be a judgement call. As for your issues with Style, there’s a simple process for using them which may help.

Basically, don’t create the style then try to format it. Instead, format a paragraph etc the way you want it to look, then create the style from it.

It’s easiest if you use the Styles Panel to do this (Ctl-s) – format your paragraph, hit the + key, name the style and give it a shortcut if you want. That’s it. If you want to amend it later, make the changes to a paragraph in that style, then in the style panel right click on the style panel and choose ‘redefine style from selection’, hit Enter and you’re done.

Finally, apologies if this is obvious, but the ‘advanced’ controls for line-spacing, tabs and so on are all available directly from the menus, so you can assign a shortcut to them for quick access.


Yes. But again, I am not making an argument that the controls may be found if you look for them. I am only suggesting that in providing a fly-out menu or a stand alone appetite so that there is less hunting for the tools, it would be a benefit to some users - to myself anyway. And, I believe that my opinion is as important as anyones opinion. It is not less important if it is a minority opinion. All I can ask is for a fair minded hearing of what I have proposed. I am not encouraged that any of this is going to change the program, Scrivener, as there appears to be a strong user culture who already prefer Scrivener the way it is. Many people don’t need to use a wheelchair to negotiate day to day life. And, some do. It is what it is.

I’ve given you some information about why the problem may not as simple as you seem to think it is and I’ve suggested practical ways to work around it in the meantime. Do you have any other suggestions for ways in which users can help you?

I don’t think that either one of us can speak for all of us. We all have a perspective on how we work best. All I have done here is to present my own challenges in what is constructive and may be considered.

Yes of course, that was the whole reason for my last post.

There are many ways that people like to write. Once again, I know my own style and have my own preferences. Some like using Markup language. I can’t stand markup language. But, to each their own.

I like to see some formatting as I write. This gives me some visual reference that I have written what I was thinking of writing.

As far as formatting goes, how could anyone think that Scrivener is not just as focused on proper formatting for an output of a document as any writing app ever created? If I were not trusting that when I compile my draft I would have a properly ordered document to show to a publisher I would not spend another moment in Scrivener. KW mentioned earlier that Word, Nisus and other word processing documents are for single documents where Scrivener is for the process of writing. I don’t see it the same way as every draft in Scrivener has the chance to become compiled and professional output as a single document.

But again, I have said my piece. There is a difference between putting forward a clear argument for something - which I hope that I have done, and arguing about who is right and who is wrong. I have laid this out as clearly as I can already.

If I think of something I will surely ask. I have gone to some lengths creating a mark-up and offering a different point of view. Mostly the feedback I have received is, we don’t really want to see this in the Scrivener community. Fair enough. All I can ask is a sincere considering of what I have already presented.

Back to the writing.

One of the primary goals of Scrivener’s design is to allow writers to separate writing tasks from formatting tasks.

While it’s true that Scrivener 3.1.2 includes much more sophisticated formatting capabilities than its predecessors, that underlying goal has not changed.


Understood. And yet, the fact remains that for a professional writing environment, the output, or the compiled form of a Scrivener document MUST, adhere to proper formatting. I don’t see a lot of flexibility in anyones requirements to receive a document for professional review. Proposals, scripts, academic submissions, and articles for publication MUST adhere to a properly formatted output.

I am scratching my head a bit as all I am suggesting is making the formatting process a little easier to focus on by gathering the formatting tools into a single pallet. Nothing in what I have proposed would take anything away from the writing process that Scrivener was designed to provide. Nothing I have proposed as I see it, is in disagreement from your point that Scrivener was meant to focus on the process of writing. The tools exist already for the most part. I am simply offering that they are in too many places and putting them in a single area would make formatting choices easier. And after all, making a part of the writing environment easier so the writer spends less time focusing on them and more time writing, seems to be your main point. And, I would have to agree.

I don’t see this as an “either - or” argument. I see this as a more zen like understanding that, both must somehow exist at the same time - without taking anything away from Scrivener’s main goal, which is to write. Writing that is, to produce well formatted documents.

Well, no. While proposals etc. MUST adhere to specified formats, the recipients of those documents don’t care how the formatting was achieved. There is no inherent requirement that Scrivener itself produce those formats. Indeed, many users prefer to compile from Scrivener to plain text, and use Markdown and similar tools to produce their final formatting.

Scrivener has, over the years, absorbed more and more formatting capabilities into itself. Many users – myself included! – think that’s good. But the success of Scrivener has never been based on its ability to deliver whatever formatting a user might desire. Other tools fill that niche very effectively.


Ahm… that’s actually not true. In the academic world you can basically format things any way you want nowadays, or not at all. The journals handle this, not the authors. And grant applications are often entered in web applications, unformatted.

It seems here that we are all dancing in small circles. To what end I am not sure, as we are getting farther, and farther away from my original point of a simple formatting panel or pallet. It seems that we are starting to argue opinions here.

The last time I was in school and received a degree was in 2014. When I handed in assignments, they needed to be correctly formatted or they were not accepted.

I have neither submitted a grant nor a script so I can’t speak with any authority on that issue. But I am pretty sure that what I have heard from other writers is that a script has to be formatted in a certain way.

When I was working in the proposal and technical writing field, it had to be not only correctly formatted but it had to be in Windows version of Word. I had a Mac version of Word and it was a smarter idea to get a Windows version of Word as they are slightly different. Fortunately the Mac can dual boot so this was a doable work around.

I am not sure from the earlier comments that we are all talking about the same thing. As I just mentioned, in proposal writing, formatting included specific Word formatting - and on Windows.

But, when I say that Scrivener must have the ability to compile in a professional manor, I thought it was already understood that this is in fact what Scrivener will do? With the exception of a proposal as mentioned, a submission to an editor would only have to be in the correct format.

This would be different from being asked to send the file for editing and revisions. I cannot imagine that Scrivener would do very well in that sort of environment as I wouldn’t presume that a publishing house also had a copy of scrivener on hand to assist in the editing process. As I am only now working on my first book, it is not something that I can say yet for certain. But, to say that it is a must that Scrivener will be able to compile my finished work in a professionally acceptable manor, is just not worth arguing about.

Not really. You made a general claim which was not correct.

As for your wish, the developer has already given a clear answer:

End of discussion.

Uh no, I did not. You seem to be ignoring what I have said. It would probably help to read what I wrote before saying something like that. Sigh, you’re right and I’m wrong? Really?Why make this personal?

I wrote a lengthy response to the developers post which he has yet to respond to. So no, this is not over and out.

I am just one man doing his best to humbly state his opinion. I have risked sharing my disability here on a public forum. I have asked for others to consider a different perspective. I am happy for others to succeed. I am also happy, for me to succeed.

Once again, this post was meant for one reason alone, and I think I have done that. If anyone has an opinion related to my OP, please feel free to chime in.

Otherwise, this has become a huge distraction to my day of writing. Wishing everyone the best and, moving on.