Please tweak the editing UI

First, let me say I LOVE Scrivener for draft writing and conceptual work. It’s outlining ability and compile options are fantastic. Yes, I know it takes time to learn this package but the investment is worth it. And I won’t revisit the DPI issues and the other things I know the programmers are working on for the next version. (waiting with bated breath)

Just want to comment on one major usability factor that could stand some work:

Obviously, most writers will be moving back and forth between Scrivener and Microsoft Word. (as intended) And I realize that Scrivener is supposed to be a bare bones editor. No problem there.

The PROBLEM lies in the fact that the Scrivener editor behaves so differently in the way it handles text editing, that it becomes painful to move back and forth to Word. The behavior of paragraph marks, character styling, tabs, and many shortcut keys seem needlessly different from the Word standards. It makes it very hard to keep the two programs straight in one’s mind.

I’m constantly struggling to properly remove formatting from text pasted from the Internet. In Word, CTRL+SPACEBAR removes character formatting, in Scrivener, that shortcut is used for single spacing. Why not have the most COMMON keyboard shortcuts between the two be similar?

Obviously the key in draft writing is to work fast. Keyboard shortcuts are critical. Editing behavior becomes habitual. Every time Scrivener uses a different behavior or convention from Microsoft Word, our writing productivity goes down.

So just please try to not be different just for the sake of being different. I love Scrivener so much, that I want to use it for as much of my draft writing as possible, but editors demand Word files, so it’s inescapable that most writers will be forced to use both writing tools.

EDIT: I just discovered a section in the manual on keyboard shortcuts:

This is interesting, and to my knowledge, non-standard Windows convention. You SHOULD DEFINITELY expand the keyboard shortcut section in the manual and help to clarify things for users. For instance, some keyboard chords do not work, even if they don’t conflict with other key combos. (Is it only Ctrl+G that will work in a chord??) Will the first key in a chord only work if that key is not used somewhere else as a single key shortcut? More detailed explanations in the manual would be very helpful.

Replying from a different vantage point, I agree that fast typing and keyboard shortcuts are crucial in draft writing. However, as to Word being the standard to which all else should conform… De facto, of course it is a standard, because MS can afford to give the darn thing away with new computers and take in payments later. Thus most Windows users learn to write in nothing else.

More’s the pity, because Word is not actually that great a program for sheer writing. I use Nota Bene, which has superior tools for research-oriented writing (not necessarily for fiction!), and is even more keyboard-centric than Word. (E.g., you can transpose words, sentences, or paragraphs with a single key combination.) Word, of course, is designed for business use, neither for research nor for fiction. There’s no reason, in the abstract, that Scrivener, developed in the Mac universe for non-business writers, should follow Word conventions.

However, most people do do their final polishing, at least, in Word. For those who want keyboard-shortcut compatibility, there is a solution: you can quickly customize any keyboard shortcut in Scrivener, and create your own new ones. Go to Tools > Options (or F12), then Keyboard. Use the filter field at the top to search for a description, label, or shortcut, and customize as you wish.

Excuse my ignorance but why do most people use Word for final polishing? I do everything in Scrivener since I bought it. I’m not a newbie to Word, having tried unsuccessfully NOT to use it since it first came out! What am I missing, please?

Search me. I started using Scrivener in 2006 as a beta and haven’t touched Word since, except to delete it from my system when an OS-X upgrade made it incompatible. I do use Pages for final prettying up if I’m submitting a book-length manuscript; I could do that final formatting and read-through in Scrivener, but the compile process is just a shade more annoying than I feel like dealing with; Pages is just sitting there twiddling its thumbs, and the formatting in Pages is stupid easy.

The rest of the time, it’s Scrivener only, which includes writing books, magazine pieces, reading manuscript submissions, editing magazine articles including the back-and-forth with the author (99% Word users), and transmitting a final formatted Word-compatible document to Production to be rolled into InDesign.

In its infancy, circa V1.01, Word was a good writer’s program, but over time it became an all-purpose business fixture, all things to everyone and thus nothing in particular to anyone.

Phew!! Many thanks Ahab. That’s so reassuring!

I think for the moment, the answer to why you need a word processor — whether Word or some alternative like Libre/OpenOffice, on in Ahab’s case Pages or Nisus Writer Pro in mine … the latter both Mac only programs and I don’t know of Windows equivalents — is if you want to use a stylesheet in your final output.

At the moment, Scrivener doesn’t have styles, the presets are merely “format painter” shortcuts. Of course there are circumstances, as Ahab points out where the output of compile is good enough. I personally prefer to compile in such a way that it is simple to do what is necessary to implement styles in in my word processor as a matter of course, only taking a minute or two to achieve.

However, Scrivener v. 3, whenever it finally appears will have styles, it seems, so there will be less need to include a word processor in my/your workflow.

Mr X

It’s not only a layout issue. Scrivener is a drafting program; there is no Grammar Check, so it will NOT find extra spaces, duplicated words (the the for instance) or words used incorrectly (too instead of two, their instead of there) and so forth

Track Changes/Revision mode
Templates with the publisher’s pre-designated styles

When rolling in feedback from multiple sources, knowing that the output is heading off to production (who are relying on use of pre-designated styles for everything to pour properly into FrameMaker or InDesign or whatever they’re using), using Word reduces the number of screw-ups and opportunities for miscommunication between members of the publishing team (including the writer).

By insisting on my own tools in the chain, I’m multiplying the work for everyone else.

To go back to keyboard tweaking–there aren’t any keyboard shortcuts for writing tools, and that one doesn’t work when changed. I’d like to be able to call up all the writing tools from the keyboard.

I’ve solved that with a general keyboard macro program. The one I use may be found at I have no affiliation with that company.

For example, when I want to view the thesaurus for the current work, I just type Ctl-T. If I want to delete a word and the space after it (important), I click a particular button on my mouse.

Excuse my ignorance but why do most people use Word for final polishing? I do everything in Scrivener since I bought it. I’m not a newbie to Word, having tried unsuccessfully NOT to use it since it first came out! What am I missing, please?

The only time I need Word (actually, I use OpenOffice) is when I’m creating a file for a CreateSpace paperback. Things like left/right page, no headers for chapter starts, etc., cannot be handled by Scrivener.