Printing Index Cards (Synopsis)

I’m working on a project that is a well-rehearsed speech of an hour. There will be several of these on different topics. And possibly later a publication. I want to use the synopsis index card model to make actual physical index cards that I’ll hold and refer to on stage. The documents behind them will be my speech, which I intend to rehearse to a point where I have memorized and can deliver what I wrote almost verbatim.

I can’t see any way in the current product to either print only the synopses, or to print them when I print the document. Of course my ideal wish would be to be able to print the synopses on Avery index card forms. But I’m content to hand copy them for now to the cards.

Isn’t there a way to get the synopses out of the software and on to paper?



There is no way to print the index cards onto physical cards at the moment (this is oft-requested, so I will look into it in the future, but given that the Scrivener index cards can hold a different amount of text to a real index card, I’m not sure how it would work).

However, you can print their contents.

You need to make sure that your outline documents (the stuff you want to print) are in the Draft folder. Then, go to Compile Draft and choose only to include synopses and titles, and click on the “Print” button in the Compile Draft sheet - this will give you a printed outline of titles and synopses. (Note that you can print individual synopses via the File > Print command by selecting to print synopses via Page Setup > Settings > Scrivener), but the better way is definitely to print them all off into one document via Compile Draft.

Hope that helps.

Hi Keith,

Thanks for pointing me there. It’s a start but not pretty. A couple of issues that may or may not have current solutions:

  1. The synopsis ruler permits bulleted lists, but the Enter key moves me to the next card, not the next paragraph. Can’t a synopsis have paragraphs?

  2. The format of the compiled draft as you suggested left justifies the synopsis text but puts the card title in the center. This makes it difficult to find the breaks, and it looks poor especially if the synopsis has a list. An option to left justify the title would be nice.

I guess your program wasn’t designed for speeches, but I can see its application with just a few little tweaks. There must be many speeches given with using Powerpoint!


Press Opt-return, or edit them in the Inspector.

Formatting tab, un-check the “Center” option for titles.

Are the contents of the cards your entire project? If so, you might consider using the text area for composition instead of the cards. You don’t have to put up with the small entry area, and you can press enter. Things like that.

Thanks Amber. I think now I can see a way to use this by scraping together pieces of functionality.

Since we got this far, I might as well give my wish list for making this speech friendly:

  • option to set up the index card dimensions so that when the card displays bigger the lines are further apart (so it looks like a zoom)
  • index card print report that prints the exact index cards as displayed, optionally 1, 2, 4, or 6 up on a page of paper
  • oh, well: printing to Avery card forms
  • ability to lock the auto-generating synopsis capability of a project so Scrivener can’t automatically generate a synopsis by accidental clicking
  • auto-numbering of the index cards in sequence, and options to display and to print the number
  • ability to select documents from the pane at the left while still keeping the corkboard display (and just moving to the selected document) – currently, the selected document goes into text mode
  • Next and Previous controls to step through the cards while remaining in corkboard
  • ability to move to a different card by clicking on it to automatically place the cursor without requiring a second click

I am sure Keith will have a few things to say, but here are some comments from another user.

The line spacing is already dynamic, but based on the font size. I like to consider this a feature rather than a missing feature. You can have a large card size with small print. I get what you are saying about a “true zoom,” but I’m not sure what uses that would have for most people, as generally people ask about making the cards bigger so they can see more text—not so that they can just make the cards bigger.

This request comes up now and then, and I agree with the usual response: The problem with printing synopsis cards (which are represented as index cards) as actual index cards, is that they would not always form a 1:1 ratio. I can put hundreds of words in each synopsis field (indeed I have heard of people putting many hundreds in a card). How would this get printed out? Dozens of index cards per index card? That might be fine for some, but others might require precisely ten cards for their ten scenes—not 65 cards for their ten scenes.

It’s converting a metaphor back into reality, and that isn’t always going to be a very seamless process.

I don’t know, Cmd-Z works fine for me. Make a mistake; undo it. Much more elegant than Yet Another Button/Menu Item/Preference. If you already tried this and it did not work: Make sure the focus is in the card text area. Different parts of the application have their own separate undo buffers so they don’t trample on each other.

Check out the numbering tokens in the Edit>Insert>Auto-numbering menu. Those will get you started, if that is what you mean, but there is quite a bit you can do with them that the menu does not address. See the documentation for advanced usage. You can do cross-reference, individual number streams, and so on. Note they do not come up pretty in the application, but it is after all a drafting application, not a presentation application. Presentation is compile and print—and the numbers will be calculated appropriately then.

Not entirely sure what you mean by “pane at the left”, but you might want to try playing with Cmd-Opt-L to lock the editor session in place. You’ll know it is locked when the header bar turns a dusty red.

Another thing you might be looking for is 3-pane mode, which is to say, making Scrivener act a bit like a typical Email client where you have a list on the left, a sub-list in one pane, and the text of a document in a third pane. In that case, try clicking the opposing arrows icon in the footer area of the Corkboard. It will turn blue. Now try clicking on cards and see if it is acting the way you like.

Again, with that mode, try the arrow keys. Not only “next” and “previous,” but up and down.

Not sure what you mean here. Clicks are immediate for me—granted the very first click when selecting the Corkboard itself is separate. That is, click once to focus the Corkboard—but from that point on every click is immediate.

I think Amber has pretty much fielded all these, but I’ll just add:

I’m not really sure how people manage to accidentally auto-generate a synopsis given that it requires a click, but, as Amber says, you can undo it, provided you click into the index card first (each main text has its own undo stack so that you can undo changes even after switching back and forth between documents).

That would be rather odd - the binder is where you select what is displayed in the main pane. How would you choose to view the text of documents otherwise?

You can just use the arrow keys for this.

The double-click is required to edit because the corkboard is a control just like any other - so, just as you have to double-click to edit a field in a table (in the Finder, in iTunes, in Scrivener’s outliner), you have to double-click in the corkboard, too. This is because the actual text editor isn’t created until you double-click. If every card was an actual editor, it would consume a lot of resources. So, each card is just drawn until you double-click on it, which is the standard OS X way of telling a control to create its editor.

To me, it does sound a little as though you are after a dedicated corkboard program. Scrivener’s corkboard is just a way of viewing the contents of a particular folder - an alternative metaphor to the outliner. So it is not designed, nor intended, to be a full corkboard app.

Thanks and all the best,

Hi Keith,

I agree with you that I’m trying to use a convenience feature of Scrivener for some other purpose than the one for which it was designed. Thanks for your suggestions.