Scrivener for Word -- how to create MS Word-like nested numbered Outlines

I am a newbie to Scrivener, so forgive me if this is not the way that Scrivener was meant to be used. However, I have a number of documents in Word that I want to use in Scrivener that have outlines formatted in Word. I have noticed in some user forums that others, like me, have wanted to create these numbered outlines in Scrivener as well, but have been unable to do so. I believe I may have the solution.

Solution 1: Use Scrivener List Styles to define each level of the outline. For example:

  1. Type some text, then select the “1. 2. 3.” list style
    a. When you type a carriage return and indent, you will see that Scrivener keeps the “1.2.3.” list style. Change this to another list style, eg, “a.b.c.”
    i. Type a carriage return again and indent. The “a.b.c.” style remains. Change this to yet another list style.
    Continue this for as many nested levels as you want. What you will find, as you type carriage returns and use Tab / Shift Tab is that Scrivener remembers the styles you used for each level and applies these to your outline.

Solution 2: Create in MS Word an in-depth nested outline style that you would want to use in Scrivener. Save this as a Word document for future reference. You can then import this into Scrivener, or copy and paste it over, and each level will function as the style you created, regardless of what the style settings are in Scrivener. For example, I created the following nested outline:

  1. This is sample text
    a) Part a
    i) Part i
    (1) Part one
    (a) Part one a
    (i) Part one i
    1. Number 1 period

Once this is copied and pasted in, you can delete all the text from “This is sample text” onwards, and the outline structure will remain in Scrivener’s memory at this location, for you to fill in to your heart’s content.

My examples did not format with the indentions as well as I had intended in the post, but hopefully you will get the idea.

In order to decide whether this is the best solution, you first have to decide what the outline is for.

Generally speaking, the Scrivener-like way to do things is to use the Binder to construct your outline. This facilitates editing: you can swap Section I.A.1 with Section II.C.2.a simply by dragging and dropping. It also allows you to assign metadata to each outline section independently.

The Scrivener approach assumes that the individual sections are fairly large. If Section I has, say, 20,000 words, and the entire manuscript is north of a hundred thousand, then probably you don’t want to have the whole thing in a single Binder document. If, as in some legal documents, individual sections are only a few lines, giving each its own Binder document might create complexity that you don’t want.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at our Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu. It’s a good overview of how Scrivener differs from tools like Word.