"Novel" Use for Scrivener

If anyone is interested in unusual tasks for Scrivener–I a using it like a database to track family members and their contact information for a large family reunion. Each major branch of the family is contained in a folder named according to the first person in that branch. Each child of that person has a text “chapter” inside the folder. Each child has sub-“chapters” for their children, and so forth. Each major branch is color coded, and I only need to have the branch I am working on open at any given time.

Each person’s contact information is on the index card. The Label is marked with the name of the main branch person, except for people who are deceased. All deceased family members are color coded and labeled as deceased. They are still inside the proper branch or “chapter”.

The status tells me what I still need for contact information.

I am sure this isn’t the most efficient way to keep this type of information, but I don’t have Access or any other database software and I really like being able to collapse all branches of the family except the one I am working on.

I haven’t tried exporting the information in ways that are useful to me, so I expect that will take some experimentation. And I may find it’s more trouble than it’s worth. But it’s an interesting experiment and I thought I’d share.

If anyone else has done anything like this with Scrivener, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Faye Howard

While I think you’ve made an ingenious use of Scrivener for your purposes, when it comes time to send out e-mails or snail-mails, you may have to do a lot of copy/paste to move the data.

One of the virtues of databases is you may enter data once and then use the program to construct all kinds of output. Possibly an Excel or Numbers file would do that, but you might take a look at Bento 4 by FileMaker. It’s easy to learn, and there’s a “class reunion” template that you could modify for your family gathering.

solutions.filemaker.com/database … al=2549839

Good luck, and don’t let the kids eat all the desserts first.

Hi, Faye,

I’m sorry but I haven’t done anything like this with Scrivener. What I want to say, though, is that reading over what you have done has opened my eyes to using Scrivener for activities other than writing for (potential) publication. You have made me think, and for that I thank you.


Bento looks great, but I don’t have a Mac and I don’t see a version for MS Windows, except for Filemaker Pro for 300 bucks. I could probably install Access for less than half that, so maybe it’s worth looking into. Especially if I can find a similar template for Access.

Why don’t you just download a free copy of Personal Ancestral File from familysearch.org? It’s designed for genealogy.

I’m something of an info junky and on numerous subjects. I’ve grown tired of Tree structured info managers and had thought Scrivener might be just the vehicle to collate my notes and info grabs.

It seems like an ideal tool for ruminating and generally organizing one’s thoughts about any topic.

my 2 bits