Scrivener for technical docs with repeating content

I stumbled on Scrivener yesterday and have begun to research the possibilities to simplify my work as a technical writer.

Today I have a bank of text fragments in Tiddlywiki which I copy to a Word template at every instance the fragment is needed. For each project a package of documents are created, where some of the fragments are the same in each document.

Each package describes the functionality of a certain machine. Thus, for multiple machines multiple packages are created, also sharing certain fragments for different machines.

It appears to me that Scrivener is more directed to ‘write fragment - use once’ rather than ‘write fragment - use in multiple places’ since there is no instantiating, only move of fragments. But I may have missed some function.

I would like to hear from all you experienced users if the above scenario is possible or if Scrivener simply is the wrong tool for this. And especially if there are any other technical writers out there successfully using Scrivener, how do you use this tool?

There are a couple of ways you could accomplish this.

(1) You could store your library of fragments in a Scrivener project. Then, for each new document, you could create a new project, copy the appropriate fragments over, and proceed from there. This might be the best way to do it if the imported fragments are a relatively small fraction of the total text, or if you need to customize the fragments extensively to fit their new context.

(2) You could store your fragments in a Scrivener project, and then use the Collection and Compile options to paste together whatever group of fragments a particular document requires. This would be the way to go if new documents consist almost entirely of pre-existing fragments, and if the fragments themselves do not change.

(3) Or, within a project, you could use the Duplicate function to create new copies of the fragments as needed. This would work for scenarios with an intermediate amount of duplication and customization, although I would expect keeping all of your documents in a single large project would become unwieldy after awhile.

If it were me, I would probably use approach (1), since it gives maximum flexibility for new documents while still keeping the library of fragments separate.

Thank you for considering Scrivener!


on the same note. How was the document for scrivener done. I need to create manuals for my IT shop and I am looking at scrivener and other software to see what is best. I opened the scrivener manual and it looks like it can do it if it was done with scrivener.

has anyone done this?


If you go to this page you will find the Scrivener documentation:

The manual was written in Scrivener on a Mac.


On that page, you will find a link to the Scrivener Project File under the “Mac” section. The manual was written by Ioa using MultiMarkdown, so the basic Scriv Project File should give you a good idea of how our master of all things computational did it.

Just a note on that, I do realise the .scriv download is way out of date. It’s a pain to put that together so I don’t often. However that is largely a content problem, not a problem as a technical demonstration. The techniques are all there. One other important thing to note is that it will no longer compile correctly (like you see in the Help menu, at least) out of stock Scrivener. I put together the stylesheet and automation back when MMD2 was the thing, and I haven’t had time to upgrade all of that to MMD3.