Outline mode- go deeper than document name?

I’ve been using Scrivener for many years to write my weekly newspaper column, simply making a new document each week. Might as well used TextEdit, I know, but I wanted to get some experience with Scrivener. I am in no way stressing the program or even dipping my toe into the abilities I know are there.

Now, I’m writing a non-fiction book and need some of the features I’ve not used, particularly the Outline function.

I see how to go into Outline mode. What I want, though, is to go deeper: I’d like each paragraph in each document to be included in the outline. Reason: to move grafs about and into the right order, so I need to go deeper in Outline View than only the name of the document.

No doubt this is documented in the manual, but I am not finding it, so if somebody could direct me to the right place I would so appreciate it. I’ve tried selecting/ not selecting but haven’t hit the right combination.


No way! :slight_smile:

What I would do to “explode” a document into paragraph-sized chunks is import it using the File/Import/Import and Split… menu command, supplying the requisite number of carriage returns as the split separator. Another approach, if there aren’t many paragraphs to split, is the Documents/Split/ commands.

When you’re done with this process, you can select them all and use the Documents/Merge command on the whole bunch, or to merge things into topical groupings (which may or may not be structural elements of the final document—i.e. you can have fifteen subsections in a chapter but only three of them print a heading and end up in the ToC).

Basically, the concept of a “file” in Scrivener shouldn’t be confused with the concept of a file on your Mac. We use the name because it is familiar, but a “file” in Scrivener is better described as a point in an outline. So the idea here is that if you need more outline, make more outline. :slight_smile: If you want an example of a fairly detailed outline, check out the user manual projects that we make available for download. You’ll find that the outline structure mimics the document heading structure for the most part, but not always. Compare the menu appendix in the Scapple project with the PDF. If you just looked at the PDF first you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that the “File Menu” subsection was one file in Scrivener (and indeed, some might even assume the entire “Menus and Keyboard Shortcuts” appendix is one long file), but in the project you’ll see there is one file for each menu command, making the outline in Scrivener a near direct map of the menu structure in Scapple.


What the complicated computery person* is trying to say is:

  1. The smallest level/unit in outline view is a document – you cannot instruct it to “outline” what is inside your documents.

  2. But Scrivener makes it easy to cut up your text in as many pieces as you like – and instantly pull them back together on the fly (via Scrivenings mode or compile). So it is basically cost-free to slice up your text in anyway you see fit. And if your text were pieced out into smaller docs, you would see that finer-grained structure in the outline view (and also be able to freely rearrange those pieces in the outline or binder).

  3. So, if you want to see more detail in your outline, you could break your docs into smaller doc pieces – one paragraph per doc even. (And you can arrange these in folders and subfolders as well to represent structure.)


  • :wink:

Thanks! Now I’m imagining my Binder to be about 6 miles long!

Guess I will experiment a bit…deadline looming, though.

Seven league Binders are the stuff dreams are made of around here!

Yes, it would definitely be essential to have a folder structure to reign some of that Binder length in – so you could twiddle closed stuff you didn’t need to be scrolling through.


The idea of making each graf a doc as a workaround for outlining doesn’t seem very useful; I played with it but it’s far too clunky to be taken seriously.

On the other hand if there’s a good way in Scrivener to pull pieces from several documents into a single document I’ve not found it.


Lots of writers deal with ‘front matter’. My current project has the usual stuff: something about the authors, of course, and acknowledgements; but by way of example I also have How To Use This Book, and I have Who Needs This Book, and I have Thinking Like A Design Pro, and I have some background on the green industry, and…well, easy to see such of this overlaps (and makes my editor crazy, which is just an incidental benefit).

So what’s needed is a way to have a look at four or more documents, grabbing pieces into rational sections; this is where outlining really shines, allowing the writer to move good text about.

This isn’t a rant, just an observation by a user. [I could rant about Tables, though, but that’s a different thread…].

There are several. The two that seem most relevant are:

Documents -> Merge, which combined with Documents -> Split is the single most useful pair of features in Scrivener, IMO.


Edit -> Append Selection to Document

You can also use Scrivenings (Scrivener’s multi-document mode, View -> Scrivenings) to view a temporary combination document so that you can decide whether an actual merge makes sense.