Feature request: named paragraph and character styles that import/export via RTF.
Well-implemented styles are a huge time-saver for writers because:
You can select a group of formatting options – font, font size, ruler, justification, color, etc. – with one click.
You can change some aspect of a style everywhere it occurs in the document, simply by changing the master style.
You can set up styles to automatically follow other styles, so the paragraph after a subhead is automatically formatted for as body text.
You can change the look of your document without changing its content, simply by using a different set of styles.
Let’s take a look at how I use styles to save time:
I have document templates set up so the first line is Title style (boldface, centered, etc.). When I hit return, the next paragraph is Byline style (centered but not bold, smaller, has space beneath). The paragraph after that is body text, so I start typing my story! No rulers, no Command key combinations; I just write.
I use a character style “thoughts” for all character thoughts. Usually it’s italic, but if I decide I want it roman (non-italicized) instead, I can change it throughout the manuscript simply by changing the master style. If I don’t like the effect, I just change it back.
I have separate template documents set up with styles for writing on my computer (screen fonts), printing out a single-spaced manuscript for proofing, printing out a double-spaced manuscript for proofing, and submitting to a publisher. Fonts, font size, alignment, line spacing, color can all be different depending on what I’m doing. Whether the document is one page or 1,000 pages, I can change all the paragraph and character styles throughout the manuscript in a few moments, with no search-and-replace. Since the document content isn’t changed, I can switch the styles back again in an instant.
Named styles let me transfer documents between word processors, and fix any import glitches by applying the global styles again. It’s also useful when a friend forwards a styled document with body text in 6 point Monotone Unreadable. I can switch it to 12-point Times without messing up the workable styles used for subheads and tables.
Styles are especially useful for technical writers. Unlike fiction, technical writing uses a lot of subheads, bulleted and numbered lists, nested lists, and other complicated stuff. Without styles, transferring those sorts of documents between applications is a formatting nightmare; nothing comes out right. With styles, documents may still show bad formatting on import, but they’re simple to fix. A lot of technical writing projects could benefit from Scrivener’s incredibly good project organization interface.
Many writer’s only exposure to styles come from Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, its styles are poorly implemented. The user interface is terrible, and styles text doesn’'t update consistently, which misses the point. No wonder so many writers think styles are a #$% distraction from writing!
Well-implemented styles rank with word processors and spell checking as one of the greatest writing tools of all time. Styles get all that tedious formatting out of the way, and let you concentrate on writing!
Which is the whole point of Scrivener, so I think Scrivener and styles are a natural match.
Styles can also drastically reduce the time writers need to spend formatting documents after export. If writers can export a manuscript and have the thing ready to print or submit to the publisher in five minutes, that can only be good. Styles make it easy.
Well-implemented styles also streamline the user interface, which I know is another (much-appreciated!) goal of Scrivener development.
In addition to using styles for the last 10 years, I also do usability design. I’ve been studying styles a bit lately in preparation for doing a blog post on them. So I’d be happy to discuss the details of how to implement styles so they’re powerful and easy to use.
There are a lot of projects I won’t be porting over to Scrivener until it gets styles. But once it does, watch out world!