Newbie Question - Scrivener Workflow

OK, just purchased Scrivener and am reading / watching the tutorials. I appreciate I might need to change my current workflow to fit into the Scrivener structure, but not sure how best to do that. Attached below is a simple diagram of my current, mostly manual, non-Scrivener workflow. Would appreciate some guidance on how to map my workflow into the Scrivener structure of folders, index cards, source materials, etc.

My current 4-step workflow, in a nutshell.

  1. Find a research source (e.g., a book), take a photo of the cover with my phone, annotate it on phone (source B, in the attached diagram).

  2. Read the source book, taking photos of pertinent pages, making some quick annotations on the photos.

  3. Later, write digital index cards with the data / thoughts that I want to include in my draft.

  4. Draft my book from the index cards.

I use basic folder structures on my Mac to manage the above, and I have a good (although not efficient) link from source material to end product. So how best to do this in Scrivener? Thanks!

I am not sure if I understand your question. Do you want to have the complete workflow in Scrivener?

My workflow is roughly like this:

– search, read and annotate scientific publications on my iPad Pro, using Papers 3.

– copy relevant references (complete reference, cite key, annotations) to Scapple, where I group and arrange the references and add extra comments to get a structure; often formulate both hypothesis and conclusions in Scapple

– copy the Scapple map into Scrivener’s Research area

– import some of the more important references from Papers 3 into Scrivener (into Research)

– create a detailed outline, based on the general “scientific paper” template which I have prepared earlier

– write the paper

– export to Word and submit to scientific journal

In projects that are not strictly scientific I often use iThoughts instead of Scapple when I structure my project. The structure can then be exported in opml format, which can be imported into Scrivener and then creates the same structure in the Binder.

Thanks for responding. I see how to link the Scrivener index cards to the draft document in Scrivener. But I don’t see how to link my annotated iPhone image (what you do with Papers 3 on an iPad) to the Scrivener index card. Maybe that’s just not possible in Scrivener, or I’m too much of a newbie to see it.

And thanks for sharing your workflow and software. I’m trying to avoid using lots of different software, but maybe that’s just not realistic.

Image files can be dropped anywhere into the Research folder of a Scrivener project. They can live as independent Binder items there. But every Binder item in Scrivener has an associated index card that can be typed on and viewed in various ways. So, having an associated index card is built right in!

In fact, the idea of sketching out bits on index cards, then drafting your book from there is a very well-provided for workflow in Scrivener.

The only extra bit in the workflow you describe is the snapshots you use as a way of capturing research material.

Your snapshots of book covers (not complete biblio info!) and book pages (annotated) sound like pieces that naturally belong in the Research folder, for they are not themselves part of your finished product. I am guessing they are probably not always clearly related to just a single part of your developing Draft either – another reason they belong in the Research folder. Photos can be dropped into the Research folder (or any subfolder thereof) of a Scrivener project. They can live there as independent photos files.

So, Scrivener easily houses all the pieces you use in your workflow. And writing on the index card of an image doc in Scrivener is easy enough.

There is but one thing you have to bear in mind… Independent image docs can live directly in the Research folder of a Scriv project, but cannot live as independent files in the Draft folder.* So, if you jot on the index cards of image files, these will all be down in the Research area of your project, not in the Draft area – which is where you will want your actual draft text to be.

There are a number of ways you could craft the drafting part of your workflow from here. Probably all of them would make critical use of Scrivner’s split Editor view: Using Scrivener’s split Editor view, you can look at one of your snapshot pages or a set of your written-up index cards in one half of the split while in the other half you can be typing in one of your draft text docs.

So, for example, you could do all the image and index card work in your Research folder. Then when you start doing your draft work, you will create text docs in your Draft folder to house your draft writing. And use the split Editor so you can look wherever you need to in the Research area as you are writing.

Of course, each text document in the Draft folder of your project has an Index Card of its own (as well as its body text area, of course) that you can write on, if you like. These can be rearranged as you like in the Corkboard (or outline) view, etc.**

There are other ways you could proceed, but maybe this will suggest for you some possibilities.


  • If you want images in your Draft folder, you can put them there too, but you must drop/paste them into a text doc. They cannot live there as standalone files.

** Another interesting fact: Every text doc in your Draft folder automatically has an associated index card you can write on, but it can also assign it an associated image, and flip between viewing its index card or its assoc. image. The exclusiveness of viewing the two makes this additional feature less useful for your purposes than it might be, though.

Thank you GR!