Hereby a request from a screenwriter. I use Scrivener as long as possible when writing scripts. First of all I must say how much I love this program as it is a really effective tool and an inspiring workspace.

The feature request: scene numbering possibilities expanded from de index cards to the binder and scene heads in Scrivenings. In such a way that Final Draft takes over this numbering when exported.

(The fact that this feature is missing at the moment must be a serious hinderance for other screenwriters too.)

The matter of numbering things in the binder and outliner comes up from time to time—undeniably, some way of persistently numbering items would be useful for authors of all stripes, there is no debate over that. The problem is how to do it. You’re saying it should be scenes that are numbered—but what are scenes? Are those individual cards, and if so are they file type cards or folder type card? Are they level one or level 5? The problem is that there isn’t any such construct as a “scene” in Scrivener. You might have some things that you refer to as scenes in your project, but in another person’s project “scenes” might be something else entirely—they might not even be broken out into individual pieces in the binder outline. They would want the numbers to be in the text editor itself, much like Final Draft does where it renders a depiction of the a page in the window. Scrivener does have a mechanism for counting lines in the sidebar. There is the Format/Options/Show Line Numbers, which could perhaps be coerced to only number lines of a certain element type (like “Scene Heading”), but then you run into the non-linear problem. If you load a document in the middle of the Draft, how does Scrivener know to start counting at 80 instead of 1? Final Draft and other similar programs can do this more easily because it’s all one huge document, but in Scrivener it’s a bunch of small files. Making all of the files aware of the other files enough so that counting can be contiguous would be expensive in terms of processor usage.

So basically, the short answer is: It’s of course a good idea, but there are problems with turning the idea into an implementation that does what people want without a great amount of configuration complexity or slowing down the computer.

I forgot to mention that there is also a form of soft numbering already in place when using the Corkboard. You can turn it on with the View/Corkboard Options/Show Card Numbers menu command. You probably want the variant that does not start numbering over with each section (section being defined by the containers the scene cards are sorted into, if you separate acts into folders or what have you).

To view multiple folders on the corkboard at once, Cmd-click on the folders themselves in the Binder, or Shift-click on a range of them while they are closed, so as to not select any sub-document cards as well. The trick is to only have containers selected. Since corkboards only show one layer of depth, this works even if you separate scenes into beat cards or something more detailed. Only the top-level scene container card will be numbered and represented.

Amber, I get your point about the problem of numbering in a non-linear software made of many subdocuments. But still: I have to pick up the megaphone in the name of many screenwriters I know:
Because at this point, scene- and page-numbering is the ONLY reason why I (and many colleagues) still go back to clumsy, buggy, ugly & overpriced FinalDaft. The writing in Scrivener, and then, at the end, it’s meeting your old foe FD again. But alas: Two hundred dollars for putting some numbers left & right? Please, Scriveners, save us from that!

My thought for Scrivener is this: Usually, scene numbering becomes important when you finish your screenplay. I wouldn’t (or rather shouldn’t) go on numbering scenes all the time in Final Draft as I write, knowing that all the time I go back and re-order.

So, wouldn’t there be a way to solve this in the compile process?
I know that you can number chapters, but as of now this is still a somewhat tricky thing, that needs some serious software study for a poor writer.

Couldn’t there be a specific screenwriting feature in the compile settings, that would auto-number ONLY all the lines written in scene-heading format? (left AND right would be great, like Final Draft does it)

For a second draft, you could actually re-import your finished & numbered script, with the numbers.
And, allow me to go on dreaming, for shooting drafts, where you have to keep certain numbers, and auto add new ones to added scenes - might there be a way -again in the compile settings- for Scrivener to auto-recognize those scene numbers, and only add new ones (like 24A, 24B) where needed?

I know it’s a very old issue.
But I still really, really think it would be worth the pain.

All the best,

If each scene is in its own file, then wouldn’t something like this already work for what you are describing?

Take note of how things are selected in the Binder, if you’ve never seen a stacked corkboard view before. If you select only containers, it will display each of the respective corkboards in a stack (which can be viewed horizontally as shown, or vertically).

Regarding page numbers, since scriptwriting uses a rigid format, it is possible to use the View/Page View/ feature to get a rough estimate of pages. See §20.2 (pg. 276) for tips on how to set this up.

Even if you could get perfect scene and page numbering (which is possible, so long as things are set up to work right with the software), I think you would still need FD for final polish. There are things like inserting continuation text where dialogue is cut between pages that Scrivener cannot do.

Hey Amber,

sad to say that the corkboard view trick, even though interesting, doesn’t help much about my issue.

The thing is, in a screenplay, scene-numbers are mostly for the final reader, for production and for reference in the development process. And as such, they have a predefined format (the way Final Draft does it). The whole point would be to have them on the page for the final printed/pdf’ed screenplay, rather than on the screen while writing.
That’s why I proposed a predefined (quick&easy to use) shortcut in the compile process.

I do get your point about the Dialogue Cont’s - but those, at least in where I write, are pretty secondary. Whereas it is simply unthinkable to enter a screenplay that has no scene- and pagenumbering.

On the other hand, as I said, from a user’s side it simply feels absurd to work on a software that you love, but then have to pay 219,00 Euros for another one that you don’t like, and that doesn’t do anything real for me apart from adding some numbers and cont’ds. Obviously that is none of your business, but it’s just so out of proportion that it makes you feel a bit helpless, like with the mafia bully that squats in your favorite bar and asks for a little protection fee, or else… And everybody acts like this was normal.

Anyway. Just trying to make the point why some of us, or at least, me, tend to get a little tickly about this issue.Clearly, its one of those instances where programmers’ arguments and users’ point of view kind of clash.

So… what to do?

Maybe, if in Scrivener itself it’s not feasable, the solution would be in a little (modestly priced) additional app / add-on?
Something that simply takes a script already compiled and exported from scrivener (or maybe even from any simple texteditor, for all that it’s worth), then recognizes the sceneheadings and pages (and maybe even dialogues that cut over two pages) and simply adds the numbering?
Given the fact there are quite some solutions for autoimport of screenplays (including the one scrivener uses), I can only guess this should be feasable.

Anyone care to programm that? I would very much suppose there would be a solid demand. Just call it " Bells&Whistles "

As an outsider to the script writing world, I’m observing and getting more and more confused here, because it seems obvious to me how to accomplish this at compile time, but Ioa keeps talking about how to get dynamic numbering in Scrivener’s interface… Am I missing something?

Compile-time numbering just requires that you insert something like <$n> (from the Edit->Insert->Auto Number menu) in the appropriate place. You can put this in the compile settings (Formatting section), or directly in the text. Currently (and I believe this is a temporary bug-like issue in the windows version), they won’t change to the number they represent if you put them in the document names, but otherwise, they can go just about everywhere.

Also, Ioa: I don’t think that stacked cork boards are implemented in the publicly available version for Windows. I can’t get it to work by ctrl-selecting multiple containers, anyway.

<$n> can work a bit, but doesn’t quite solve the question (All those who have tried to use office for screenwriting know what I mean)

The reason being that, often, screenwriters need the scene-numbers from one draft to stay in place if they add new scenes in a new draft. That’s why dedicated screenwriting software has an option to “lock” the existent numbers, and only renumber new ones.

This calls for a possibility to export and the re-import the numbers with the script, having them stay in their position in the scene-heading. (which is basically what Fenster called for, starting this thread)

The other thing is, that convention asks for scenenumber on BOTH sides of the scene-heading. This doesn’t work with autonumbering, because <$n> would give, say, a number 4 on the right side of the scene-heading, and a 5 on the left.

btw: Pagenumbers, off course, do work perfectly in compile.

I might be missing that this conversation has drifted from its original premise: that the numbering shown in the index cards be displayed also in Scrivenings sessions and the Binder (and presumably the Outliner by extension), and that this pseudo-numbering be ultimately conveyed to the output as static numbering. So I meant to address the complexities of that problem, which can be easily demonstrated by compiling, and watching how long it takes, and realising any structural change in the Binder would require a likewise period of recalibration to keep numbering consistent. If we are talking strictly about compilation now, then yes, there are ways to number your scene in most likely whatever style is necessary.

The counter tag design in Scrivener is resilient to this kind of usage, as it is designed to also accommodate non-fiction usage, where numbered items need to be recalled in the text (“see fig. 23-8”, for example, where both the chapter number and figure number occupy independent counter streams, and the specific instance of each can be returned as a static number once it has been declared). So a title prefix of “<$n:scene:<$title_no_spaces>> " + Title + suffix of " <$n:scene:<$title_no_spaces>>”, would generate an instanced token that will forever return “63” or whatever the sequence number might be for that scene.

Indeed,true, and the above advanced counter design is not implemented yet either, but since the wish request is for generalised features (rather than something specific to a platform, like support for MS equation writer) it makes sense to frame the discussion within the context of the ultimate design that Windows is working toward (and plus I think the OP is using a Mac, based on the reference to index card numbering, which also is not implemented on Windows yet).