Overwhelmed! How do u organize pages?!


I feel overwhelmed by the countless options on Scrivener. So much so I don’t know how to organize my pages. Perhaps there could be a simplified version of Scrivener for those less technically inclined? :unamused:

First off, I have many folders and many files. I want to bring together only a select number of those files into one doc and also be able to move those files around in whatever order I need and then print it. HOW DO I THAT? And in a way that doesn’t involve excruciating hours of headache-y effort?

Second, I’m confused about folders and files. I hate the whole hassle of having to click on a folder than scroll down to click on a particular file to edit something. Why can’t I simply click on a folder, make the change or addition there and it will then be reflected in the file?

I’m confused about a 1,000 other things as well. But I guess this is a start. :wink: Thanks!

I’m not sure I follow. Do you want to create copies of the original file in a new draft folder?

Have you considered using “scrivening” mode in the editor? That will make all the files aggregate into one long text with a separator between file segments.

Another thing to consider; have you simply been to aggressive in your file creation? I normally do one file per paragraph, but a recent change in my usage (fun to education paper writing) has forced me to change my previous method to one file per thought. Where I used to have 30 files I now have one. Just a thought.


Please see the introductory videos on this page:


In particular, take a look at the 10-minute introduction, and possibly the Screencasts Online one too.

Also, please go through the interactive tutorial available from the Help menu.

This will answer your questions and get you up and running in the quickest possible time.

All the best,

There are a couple of ways to do it.

If you only want to bring the files together temporarily – for instance if you want to see all the scenes with a particular character – you might find creating a Collection useful. You can create a collection manually (Documents -> Add to Collection) or with the Search function. Once the collection exists, the fastest way to print it is to create a Scrivenings session by selecting all the files in the Binder, and then use File -> Print Current Document. (Collections are Step 14 in the Tutorial, Scrivenings are Step 11.)

If you want to permanently rearrange the files, use the Binder or the Corkboard to drag them into the appropriate order, then create and print Scrivenings as above. (The Binder is Step 1 in the Tutorial, the Corkboard is Step 9.)

If you want to create an output file, either for printing or to send to someone else, use the Compile -> Contents pane and check off the files you want to include. They’ll be in Binder order, so if that isn’t what you want you’ll need to rearrange the Binder first. (Compile is Step 17 in the Tutorial.)

I’m not sure what you’re asking. If you want to see the entire contents of a folder at once, you can use a Scrivenings session to do that. Or you can simply merge the contents of a folder together to create a single file. But if you’ve structured the files as separate entities, Scrivener will assume that you want to look at them separately.


Hi, welcome.

First, you’ve found the right software. Scrivener is above all (in my opinion as a long-time user) about “chunking” - that is, putting together longer pieces of work from shorter chunks that you can re-arrange as you wish to find the optimal expression of your thoughts.

Second, it isn’t in my opinion difficult to learn. If you’re familiar with the real-world idea of a ring-binder containing the chunks of your project in the form of sheets of paper, with separate dividers (“folders” in Scrivener-speak) splitting up the sections (with the possibility of writing stuff on those dividers if you want to), and index cards and other notes pinned to the separate sheets of paper - you’ve got Scrivener. What Scrivener also adds is an easy way to compile all those chunks into a single final draft for printing or export - something you can’t do with a real-world ring-binder.

Third, if you understand the ring-binder idea, the learning curve isn’t steep – but because Scrivener has so many tools to help you put your project together, it does take a little while to absorb all the wrinkles. So…

… lastly, I strongly recommend you spend a little time with the Interactive Tutorial under the Help menu - an excellent investment of a relatively small amount of time if you want to get the most from the software.

And not at all headache-y. :wink:


Okay, I can’t get the Scivener vid to play. In any case I did watch it when I first got Scrivener and didn’t answer my particular concerns.

Basically, I have folders (lots of them) and I have files in them, but also “sub-files and sub-sub-files.” Does that make sense? Like files within files.

I just want to be able to pick and chose whatever files I want to combine together in one doc.

Shifting things around in corkboard doesn’t work because it only lists folders and not files and sub-files, etc. BTW, I wish there was a way to show my files in corkboard. And also it’d be great if there was a way to write or edit files in corkboard. I can only write or edit index cards that do not effect the actual file.

I tried to use Add to Collection under Documents but it did nothing. I mean there’s a black arrow next to Add to Collection and I click on it and nothing happens. There’s no other window or whatever to choose something. :cry:

Any help is appreciated! Thanks! :mrgreen:

PS – Honestly, I have found this program to be so confusing (and intimidating), I’ve resorted to using the “Sticky Notes” feature on my mac for notes and random thoughts. Have no idea how to do this in a SIMPLE WAY in Scivener. You end up highlighting things and don’t know where they are, etc. :confused:

I’m not wholly clear what you’re after here.

When you say you want to pick and choose files to to combine together in one document, do you mean so you can edit them all together, or so that you can print them all out as one document?

a) Editing multiple documents in one go.

You can simply cmd-click in the Binder on as many documents you want and they will all be temporarily linked together in one big virtual document (called a ‘Scrivening’). This will work no matter which level the individual documents are on. If you click on folders, then the text of all their subdocuments will also be included.

Once you’ve chosen the documents, you may have to press cmd-1 once or twice to make sure the multiple documents are in the editor. (Cmd-1 toggles between View > Document and View > Scrivenings mode).

Once you’re in the virtual document, you’ll see that individual files are divided by a thin black line. You can have the title of each document appear or not with View > Editor > Show Titles in Scrivenings.

To add them all to a collection, so that you don’t have to select them every time,

First create a new collection (View > Collections > Show Collections, then press the plus sign in the Collections view header bar).

Secondly, click on the Binder heading to make sure you can see your documents, select them and drag them up into your new collection. Now if you click on your new collection header bar, you’ll see all your selected documents. Shift click on the first and last in the list, toggle cmd-1 and you’ve got your virtual document again.

b) Printing them all out as a single document.

This is done from the Compilation dialogue. (File > Compile. Choose All Options, then Contents and you can tick whichever files you want to include.

c) Document Notes – with a single document selected, View > Inspect > Notes will give you the Notes panel. With multiple documents selected, View > Inspect > Notes will give you the Project Notes.

However, it seems to me that there’s something about your expectations that we’re not understanding here. It may just be a question of vocabulary, because it’s perfectly normal to have several levels within a project, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Perhaps if you could explain a little more about your setup? For example, you keep mentioning ‘Files’ rather than documents - -what’s in these files? Are they pure text documents, or something else like pdfs / mp3s etc? Where are they in the Binder – under the first folder in the Binder (Draft or Manuscript usually) or somewhere else? What’s the ultimate goal of the project (a novel, a series of novel, a technical manual, a screenplay, a TV series etc)? All of these can easily be implemented within Scrivener, and it may help us to help you better if we could picture what you’re trying to do.

Finally it doesn’t look like you’ve gone through the Interactive Tutorial yet as Keith suggested. You really should. It will take less than an hour and it will save you a lot of frustration. It will take you through the basic concepts in enough detail so that if nothing else, we’ll be using the same vocabulary and we may be able to help better if there any problems remaining.




My project is a novel. I have folders and files and subfiles in those folders. I simply want to be able to compile only specific files or folders. Right now when I choose Compile it does it for everything I’ve written and that’s not what I want. Also, each folder is automatically a Chapter Heading, which I didn’t want.

The cmd-click doesn’t work for me, because again I want only SPECIFIC files and folders in the binder. Like one that is 15 files away from another one to be combined together. Also, where and how does the “Scrivening” virtual doc appear? In a separate window or…? (BTW, pressing cmd-1 produced no effect. Is a separate window supposed to open up?)

Again, I wish I could simply do all this on the corkboard, but since I can’t I wonder what the whole point of the corkboard is.

PS – I also find it impossible to double-space or change the font of all docs under one folder to be the same.

PPS – Is there anyway I can get a refund on this program in the event I end up not using it? :confused:

A plea - in order to try to help validate the time and effort you’ve already put in - give some time - not a great deal - to going through the Interactive Tutorial, as several posters in this thread have suggested. It’s not a video; it’s actually a Scrivener project that illustrates what it talks about - under the Help menu.

For the investment of a small amount of time and effort you may find that you do “get” Scrivener, like thousands of ordinary users, including many professional writers, before you.

Did you try this?:

Are you sure you’re in the All Options tab of the compilation dialogue? (i.e. Not the Summary tab). You will see a list of Compilation Options down the right hand side. The first is Contents. Select this and you will see all the compilable files in your project. Tick the ones you want to be compiled.

You turn off the printing of titles in the Formatting section of File > Compile > All Options. Simply unstick the Title box of the level you don’t want to print out.

Cmd-clicking in the Binder is for selecting documents that you want to edit together (section (a) in my post). If you want to select them for compiling, you do this in the Compilation dialogue as above (section (b) in the original post).

When you cmd-click on multiple documents in the Binder, you will see them in the Editor itself – or if you happen to have Corkboard mode selected, you’ll see the relevant index cards. If you’re in Outline Mode, you’ll see the relevant outline entries. Click cmd-1 (or choose View > Scrivenings) and you see all the selected documents in the Editor (separated with a black line if you’ve not changed the defaults.)

It’s for seeing the synopses of documents so that you can move them around. It’s not for editing files. That’s what the editor’s for… :wink:

In Preferences, choose the Formatting tab. In the dummy text box ruler you’ll see a drop down box for spacing (on the right). Choose 2.0 and you’ve now set double spacing to be the default for new documents.

Close Preferences, then highlight every document in the Binder that you want to change. Then choose Documents > Convert > Formatting to Default Text Style.

It does seem that what you’re trying to do is part of the basic operation of the program – I really do think you’d get a lot out of reading the Tutorial: it will save you a lot of wasted effort.



+1 on the Tutorial - I’ve just finished going through it, and it’s clear and helpful.

If you don’t want to read the whole thing immediately, you can skip to Step 17, Compiling the Draft.

(You get to the Tutorial by going to Help and choosing Interactive Tutorial.)

In that Compile section, I’d suggest that you print that file off, and then go through it, following the steps, and highlighting the bits you need on the paper version.

For organising your novel generally, David Hewson has a good book called something like Writing a Novel with Scrivener. It costs a few quid, but it’s useful.

Using the Corkboard - if you have a file called, let’s say, Opening, you can type a short description in the Inspector section on the right, under Synopsis. (If the Inspector isn’t showing, click its icon up on top at the right.) So, let’s say your Opening file can be described as:

“Fleeing the Nazi death squad, Résistant Jules Jambon disguises himself in his grandfather’s suit, which is the key to a time portal; Jules lands in prehistoric Kansas.”

(Your novel may have a better opening.) You type that “Fleeing the Nazi death squad” description in Synopsis in the Inspector.

Now, when you change to the Corkboard view of the folder with your Opening file in it, the index card for that Opening scene will have the description written on it.

Just noticed this. I wonder do you have research in the Draft folder by any chance? If so, boot them out and they won’t appear in the Compile settings.

For changing the font throughout the document, what you want is the Quick Font Override at the bottom left of the Compile dialogue box, by the way.