Need help (pointers) on textbook publishing with Scrivener

I’m in the process of trying to decide what the “right” workflow for publishing a textbook is. While I’ve used Scrivener for about a year, I haven’t tackled any large projects with it. I’ve been reading the manual and forums and have been pleasantly surprised at how rich it is… but, there are some missing bits of information I need and would appreciate comments or pointers.

First off, I’ve been trying to find out if Scrivener could actually be the end-to-end solution for me. There seem to be a few missing features though, so perhaps not. The most important ones: A table of contents and cross references (e.g.: a way to have text such as “see page 73, Summary of EVM” that automatically updates). Is this possible in Scrivener?

From what I gather, the above is not possible, which means (probably) exporting into another publishing solution when the text is done. I’ve been looking at a few options… InDesign seems to be the leading choice at this point (well, second to FrameMaker, but frankly FM is too expensive). Suggestions? Experiences? How hard is it to get text out of Scrivener and into InDesign?

And finally, I tried taking a look at the section on MMD, which seems to indicate it might make a TOC and cross references possible, but I didn’t get very far. It seems to be a pretty intense process but perhaps I just didn’t look in the right place.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions and comments.


You’re right that Scrivener isn’t really designed as an end-to-end solution; it’s more of a first draft tool, although it can be used to publish e-books and self-publish books via CreateSpace and suchlike that don’t have complex formatting requirements, such as novels. For a textbook, you would almost certainly need to export to a layout program for things such as wrapping text around images, and for a more advanced table of contents.

You can create a table of contents in Scrivener by selecting the documents you want to include, using Edit > Copy Special > Copy Documents as TOC and then pasting into the document you want to contain your TOC. This will create links to all the selected documents along with <$p> tags which will get updated with the correct page numbers when you print or export.

Cross-referencing page numbers is more difficult - you can only cross reference the beginning of a section.To do that, you type “<$p>” in the text and then select it and use Edit > Scrivener Link to link the “<$p>” text to the document you wish to refer to. Then, when you export or print, the “<$p>” gets replaced with the page number on which the linked document begins.

All the best,