Poetry in Scrivener

The default paragraph line breaks are absolutely fantastic for prose but when I’m writing poetry I don’t like them.

At the moment I am changing them in the “text -> spacing” box; and then fiddling around with it there. Is there some way of either: doing this more easily, or, making a “poetry” preset?


To change the text attributes:

Go to Scrivener: Preferences
Click on Text Editing
In the window, Default Main Text Attributes
Set the text margins, font, spacing, etc. as you prefer.
Click OK

All your new files in the project will take on those text attributes.

I guess Sebbi’s problem is that he would also like to keep the default line-breaks for when he writes prose, which changing the defaults in the preferences would over-ride.

I would set up a poetry template using name paragraph styles for poetry in the ruler, and then have that set to preserve formatting on export. In apps like InDesign, Swift Publisher 2, and sometimes even in NWP, I set up three paragraph types: “Poetry first” which has 2 points space before but 0 space after; “Poetry contd” which has 0 space before and after; and “Poetry last” which has 0 space before but 2 points space after; all with the same inset margins and set tab positions. That way it’s easy to create verses or stanzas, and to create space between the poem and surrounding text.

But in Scrivener, I just use my normal default settings and sort out the lines in whatever app I use for final layout. Page make-up software, or a decent word-processor like NWP is a much better environment in which to handle such issues, in my opinion.



Thing is presenting it isn’t an issue (if I feel like being pedantic I can get it into Pages for when I present it digitally; and when I present it normally [i.e. visually, or in performance] it’s not an issue anyway) - I get it into Scriv to archive it.

Would I be able to have a .scriv project that has seperate preference for different projects (i.e. have a poetry/verse project and a prose project)?

my question too. if I change the preset and save it as a template, it still seems to overrule the prestets in my other projects too.

Preferences are indeed project (and application) wide. You would have this problem in any word processor.


This is something that Keith would have to answer in respect of a future update, I would guess, because what you are asking for is not global preferences, but project preferences.

Preferences as they stand are preferences for the application as a whole, which is typical of preference files in general. Preferences only applying to the specific project, whether replacing the application-wide preferences or in addition to the application-wide preferences would represent a major programming task, I would have thought.

Furthermore, it seems to me that doing that is contrary to the philosophy of Scrivener as a drafting environment. Just as Scrivener is — rightly, in my opinion — page-agnostic when it comes to prose, leaving that to word-processing programmes, so Scrivener itself should be layout-agnostic when it comes to poetry.

You can do more or less what I understand you to want through opening a blank project, setting up paragraph styles to meet your line requirements through the system provided by the text-engine — available through showing the ruler — but doing it by creating a dummy poem in the Draft folder or file within the Draft folder, not the ruler in the Text pane of the preferences, and then saving that out as a template. That text-engine styles system is a bit kludgy, and you’d have to apply the styles in turn as you required, and you’d have to remember never to click on the “Convert text to default format” menu option. Another thing about that paragraph styles system is that any styles you set up within it are available system-wide, so would appear in other apps that use the text-engine, TextEdit and Yojimbo for instance, delete them there and you delete them everywhere. And if you modify them — if you can modify them, that is — any existing paragraphs with that style don’t get modified automatically … you have to do it manually.

All of that said, I have to admit that I don’t understand the need, any more than I understand the need of the person who can’t write his prose if he doesn’t see it in pages. I don’t write poetry, though I do have to teach some poetry here as part of a gallop through British Literature, so I do have to lay it out in my notes for my students. If I did write poetry, and if how it looked — other than that it was in lines and in verses separated by a blank space — did matter to me, I’d write it in NWP or whatever and archive it in Scriv. if necessary.

Anyway, you can put project-specific preferences as a suggestion to Keith for Scrivener 2 and see what he says, but at the moment preferences are application-wide and if changed, the changes apply to all new project material.

Just my 1 角


rather than use preferences for a poetry template, use the Scriptwriting mode & settings. this allows you to set the paragraph/font styles and apply them with the Cmd keys. my way, which may not be the easiest, is to copy a *.scriv doct, name it as a template (poetry.scriv) and then modify the scriptwriting settings. and rather than a new project for each poem, of course, use the project to save multiples.

scriptwriting is a mis-nomer. you can use its tools for many purposes, and not all of them evil.

When writing poems – only excerpts, I’m no poet – for me ctrl+enter is the best solution because it suppresses both paragraph spacing and indent.

Of course if a text contains mainly of poetry a style change will come more handy.