Magazine template


I’ve been asked to write a series of magazine articles and was wondering whether Scrivener would be useful to do this or should I just stick to some sort of broad headlines, fill them in with content and use an ordinary word processor?

I’ve never done this before so I’m seeking some guidance in the right approach as well as whether software would be able to lend assistance in this endeavour.

Hope this is posted in the right section and look forward to any helpful suggestions along the way.


I use Scrivener to write articles and reviews, without any special template.

Scrivener is a tool for drafting. It helps you type up scattered notes and pull them into a coherent structure. The longer the work, the more powerful it becomes.

If you can write a coherent piece from the top down, you could use any word processor.

Note to mod: this discussion might be better placed in Usage Scenarios rather than tech support.

Well, I’ve written several dozen magazine and newspaper features using Scrivener, and it’s made my job much easier, particularly on longer, heavily structured pieces. I used to use OmniOutliner to draft long pieces, but once I finally got used to thinking of Scrivener’s files as outline points, Scrivener replaced it.

I don’t write every story the same way, but here’s my general process.

  1. I clip all the source material I need to write my stories (from websites, press releases, notes, interviews, et al) as individual files in Scrivener’s Research section.

  2. Then, under the Draft section, I just start making separate files for each point I want to make. If you’re working for a magazine that insists on annotated sources, as I’ve had to do a couple of times, be sure to note your source for each point under document notes or references (in the Inspector). I display each note from the Reseach setting in the left hand window of a vertical split, with the right hand window containing the file/point I’m writing.

  3. Soon, I start grouping those points into a hierarchical outline, using the Move Left and Move Right commands frequently. Steps 2 and 3 sometimes happen sequentially, sometimes concurrently.

  4. Eventually, I have a fully outlined/structured piece, and then I Edit Scrivenings so I can see the whole thing. At this point, re-structuring is still pretty common, as is plenty of rewriting, working on transitions, and all the usual architectural adjustment.

  5. When that’s done, I export to Bean (or, previously, TextEdit) for final polish, but usually by then, very little remains to be done, and plenty of times, I just attach the exported draft to an email to my editor without doing anything in the word processor itself.

I hope this is clear; it sort of assumes working knowledge of how Scrivener operates, although I admit there’s probably features I could use more, and I’m always willing to improve my process. Early on, for instance, I remember having an intermediate outline step between Research and Draft, and then one day it hit me (d’oh!) that the outline eventually becomes the draft anyway, so I just skipped that step, or rather merged it into the draft process.

As I said, it doesn’t always work this way, even for me. For example, often when I’m writing short (<1000 wds) columns or previews, I just write from the top in a single document, although I still use Scriv files to collect and organize my research. (I used to use DevonNote for this purpose, but for magazine articles, Scrivener seems to be sufficient thus far.) And the process sometimes varies even for longer features, depending on whether I’m writing a narrative piece or standard feature style.

I’m sure every writer does things a little differently, and I’d love to hear how other journalists use Scrivener to construct their stories. The real power of Scrivener lies in its immense flexibility.

Let me know if you’d further elaboration or clarification, and good luck using Scrivener! Let us know how your first story-drafting experiences turn out.

Didn’t the editor give you some guidelines regarding styles and the file format he’d like to receive ?

It also depends on the lenght of the article but, as an editor (French computer and photography magazines), I ask every author to send me .doc or .odt files and to write in Microsoft Word or OpenOffice/NeoOffice (free) as we made an heavy use of the revisions tools wich they both offers.
He can draft wherever (s)he likes, but we will work with Word/OOo after the first draft.

If your question was about formating and if you didn’t get any advice, just keep it simple : one font (no fancy one) and one size:
Chapô (don’t know the English word, sorry : an introductory text),
And the text of your article.
Don’t forget your signature :wink:

Formatting really isn’t something you need to worry about with magazine writing. Your copy will be restyled and flowed into a design template by the editorial team anyway.

As David says, your editor should have given you any specific requirements they have. If in doubt, always ask the editor. One of the easiest ways to score brownie points with a magazine editor is to submit the copy in the manner they ask.

If you can’t or don’t want to get that information, then just keep things very simple and self-explanatory. Set everything up in a single typeface. Use double carriage returns to separate paragraphs, not indents. And use plain text: single dashes for bullet points, double-dashes for em-dashes (i.e. don’t use the actual em-dash character) and straight, unstyled quotation marks and apostrophes.

A sample template, one I’ve used myself countless times:


Your Name

Draft number - Date
Word Count

Article text


Hmm … I remember a couple of decades ago, I remember being lambasted by a colleague at the university where I was teaching at the time.

She asked me to help by reformatting an article she had written for a French academic journal because she used a PC and the journal specified that submissions had to be in the (only great) Word 5.1 for Mac, so she asked me to convert her article for her. I took a look and asked her if the publishers had given her any style guidelines. She gave me a three page document full of details down to spacing round punctuation marks, what kind of quote marks to use and so on. So I went through it setting it out exactly to their specifications–she had not met any of them herself.

She gave me a right earful on the grounds that I had been wasting my time doing all that … I should just have saved it out and left it at that. I asked her if she hoped to have the paper published and if she might be planning to write further papers for them. She had no answer. I don’t know what happened thereafter … she never even told me if her paper had been accepted!

Find out what the editor/journal expects, and meet that; anything else, leave to them. That’s my advice.


Agree with the above. I’ve been an editor at two magazines and worked with dozens of 'em. In a few cases, they’ve insisted on my using Word’s comments feature , which NeoOffice and Pages can handle, though I wound up using Word --grumbling the whole time – because I had an old copy. But more than 90% of the time, if you submit clean, double spaced copy in rtf form with a word count and your contact info at the top, and a ### or some such at the bottom, the editors will take care of the rest. Getting it there on on before deadline, and at the right length, is much more important than worrying about formatting minutiae.
If you plan to write often for a particular market, it behooves you to learn its house stylebook (e.g. when to spell out numbers and when to use numerals, whether to use double-dashes or em-dashes, etc.) but it’s certainly not essential in my experience. Scrivener is really all the word wrangler most magazine writers will ever need.

In light of the editor’s comments above, this also may be of some help:

edited - magazine article template source is being edited.

Cool - some really great feedback here which is appreciated.
Also thanks for pointing me to additional templates - the article one looks to be something that will help me get started.

I’ve just finished the tutorials and now need to get some action happening in gathering some data and seeing how Scrivener ties things together etc.