Pre-Purchase Questions

I am considering purchasing Scrivener for use on Mac. I’ve been viewing the online tutorials to get a feel for how Scrivener works. I would appreciate help with some pre-purchase questions

  1. I will be using Scrivener on two Macs (same iCloud ID). How do I sync my Scrivener content, so that I can use either Mac at any time with up-to-date content? Via iCloud? Dropbox?

  2. I plan to write a research paper with diagrams, images, tables and charts embedded in the text. Does Scrivener work well for this?

  3. My research paper also will contain endnotes and a bibliography. The Endnotes will all be at the end of the paper, but organised by chapter. For each chapter, Endnote numbering should restart at 1. Does Scrivener handle this well (i.e., auto-numbering / updating the numbering for the endnotes)?

  4. I uses Pages for writing. I do not use Word, and prefer not to. With Scrivener, is there any other software I will need?

  5. Upon completion of the paper, I plan to upload it into the Apple iBooks Store. Will Scrivener handle this process?

Thank you for your help!

Here are my brief thoughts based on having written many academic journal articles in Scrivener.

  1. Dropbox syncing works fine as long as you make sure devices have finished syncing and the files are not open on two machines at once. I used to use an external drive to work on three different Macs but have been using DB with Scrivener projects (consisting of 100s of pages and 100s of individual files) for the last few months without problems. And Scrivener for iOS uses Dropbox.

  2. I think of Scrivener as a writing tool, not a page-formatting tool. Whenever I’ve included diagrams, tables, etc. in my Scrivener projects, it’s only been for my own reference - invariably I need to do some further formatting post-compile. (Most academic journals want this stuff in separate files anyway).

  3. Ditto for footnotes. I’d recommend you download the Manual (540 pages or so!) and look at the compilation options b/c footnote handling depends a lot on which format you’re compiling to. If you’re using a citation manager, I’d recommend just putting the identifiers for the citation manager (e.g. BibTeX cite keys) in the Scrivener document, then expanding the references after compilation. (If you’re using BibDesk, by the way, there’s a great set of Applescripts for working with BibDesk in Pages).

  4. The main source of potential issues I can see with Pages is that you will be compiling to .rtf or .doc/.docx and then converting to Pages, since Scrivener doesn’t natively export to Pages (I don’t think Apple makes the specs available to do so). Anytime you convert, things can go awry…probably not very far, though. This isn’t likely to be a big deal, since you will almost certainly need to do some post-compiling cleanup anyway.

  5. This has to be done through iTunes Connect / iTunes Producer , but Scrivener can export PDF and ePUB. But as noted above, for the kind of document you’re talking about, you’d probably want to use Pages for final formatting and export from there, not directly from Scrivener.

Having said all that, Scrivener is really without parallel for long-form writing – nothing else lets you see the big picture as well.

If you can afford it, I’d dump Pages and buy Nisus Writer Pro; as Derick says, you have to compile to .docx and then import that into Pages. The Pages document format is proprietary and unavailable to developers to work with. Scrivener uses RTF as its default format, so when you compile to .docx Scrivener compiles to RTF and then applies a third party converter to turn it into a .docx; that process is not infallible and errors can creep in. Then Pages uses another converter to process the .docx into the Pages format, another process I have found to be anything but infallible.

NWP also uses RTF as its default format, so the process Scrivener --> NWP avoids problems introduced by file conversion. It is, to my mind, a very well executed program: it handles footnotes perfectly well; it has RegEx/grep find and replace and a very powerful macro language. I use an NWP macro to take a compiled RTF from Scrivener where the different heading and paragraph styles are coded by font size or colour to produce a fully cascading styled document at the press of a shortcut key combination.

As for citations/references/bibliography, I use Bookends, which integrates seamlessly in a Scrivener --> NWP workflow, though I am sure the various other reference managers will work well, though may require a little more input from the user.

The only problem I have had with NWP is in a document with a number of floating images on every page, when maintaining the image placement became a bit difficult—A4 landscape in two columns giving a two-up A5-equivalent spread, with up to three images in each column!

I’d have a look at it, also at Mellel as an alternative—doesn’t have the macro language, not sure about RegEx/grep, but very powerful for footnotes/endnotes including multiple note streams, through the interface is somewhat quirky (though I believe it’s being re-designed). It’s also half the price of NWP, and also works well with Bookends and other reference managers. It imports RTF without trouble, though uses its own proprietary document format.

My ½p. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the follow-up - I had meant to say that I use NWP, too, for most of the reasons you mention. (& for its ability to flawlessly import my 20-year old WordPerfect files. :smiley: )

But honestly Word 2016 for the Mac is so much vastly better then previous versions, if you have access to it, it may be all you need. I’ve been using it much more than NWP lately. Especially now that Word for iOS is integrated with Dropbox. It’s taken me a whole to get over old prejudices but I’d definitely recommend it now.

NWP has one disadvantage if you use Papers3 for handling references. It can’t convert the citekeys to proper references, which Word can.

I have no insight into the academic style of writing with Scrivener, but I did want to note that if you download the trial copy from this website, you have 30 days of use (i.e. if you don’t use it for a week, you don’t lose any days from the trial) to experiment with it. I really think you should do that and create a test project that puts Scrivener to the test for your needs.

Thank you all. Very helpful!