Scrivener in the world of consulting...

Hi Keith, David et al…

I have been trying out Scrivener and with 6 days remaining, thought I’d buy it and also give you some feedback.

First some contextual information:
• I am a MacUser since 1984 :wink:
• Developed design documents for Mac applications for use by an accounting/consulting firm I worked for way back…
• Now have my own gig and have stayed sanely on the Mac (even though the business world has largely gone WinDOS)
• Now as a strategy consultant, I work with a range of clients with revenues of up to $500m.

My needs (and why I use Scrivener):
• Research information in the form of client documents (Word & Excel saved as PDFs) and sources on the internet (mainly PDFs again)
• Survey executives in readiness for workshops (more Word & Excel documents saved as PDFs)
• Initiate, monitor & review specific areas of research conducted by these executives (even more Word & Excel documents saved as PDFs)
• Review everything that I have captured and develop trends, comments, areas for further research, recommendations etc
• Develop reports (still trying to wean myself off Word and onto Pages)
• Develop presentations (I just love Keynote – kicks the pants off Powerpoint!)
• Provide documents to clients as PDFs (so they cannot be changed) or by special agreement, Word and Excel.

In my current assignment, the 15 executives attending the Blue Sky Workshop developed (as part of the pre-workshop research I set them) the following documents:
• 4 documents on Market Analysis (one for each business unit)
• 6 documents on Financial Analysis
• 7 documents on Market & Industry Trends
• 11 documents on Competitive Positioning
• 12 documents on their Product Portfolio
• 121 documents on Competitor Analysis
That makes a total of 161 documents (each on average 8 pages in length) that I had to get into and understand thoroughly before I could even put a slide up on screen in the two-day Blue Sky Workshop I facilitated.

One reason for using Scrivener was quite simply that in essence, writing a report is no different from writing a dissertation or a book. They both contain text, tend to be organised in some form (chapters, paragraphs etc) and formatting really does not matter until the content is pretty much ready for print. And preparing slides is even simpler if based on an ‘Information Mapped’ document.

Back in business school I took an unconventional approach to writing my 25,000 word MBA dissertation that seems to mirrior your philosophy. I researched and wrote it using FileMaker Pro – that’s right, a database and not a word processor. I developed this database to reflect the Information Mapping approach and prepared the dissertation right up until the last draft. It’s only then that I exported the text from FileMaker Pro into MS Word and dealt with formatting etc. Using this approach, I wrote the dissertation in six weeks flat and got a ‘A-’ 8) .

Finally, Scrivener provided a structure to contain research documents. So I imported the above 161 documents and others into Scrivener and went to work.

The big limitations I ran into with Scrivener:
• It is not possible to highlight text within PDFs once they have been imported. The workaround being to do the highlighting externally in Preview then to import the PDF which is a real pain.
• Nor is it possible to ‘copy’ text from a document in the research folder (typically a PDF) and ‘paste’ it into a report that is being prepared while retaining either a hyper-link back to source or some sort of reference through a foot note or bibliography.
• I could not find a way of setting my own preferred template style which you will have gathered by now is Information Mapping [see]

I am a big fan of Information Mapping and now fast becoming one of Scrivener too. I can see myself using Scrivener for most of my key projects.

Fix the above limitations, add the ability to use the Information Mapping format and you will be able to hit the business world in a big way.

Sydney, Australia

Disclaimer: I’m a user of Scrivener, and not even a very technical one, at that.

I think your first point with the highlighting is going to be addressed in 2.0, which is due out around the turn of the year. Ah, yes. Here’s the link.

After dragging text from the PDF into the document, just right-click beside it and select “Scrivener Link”, then the source file. (If you don’t need it there, you could also put it in the links menu for the document. There’s an “Add Internal Reference” option.)

You can make your own templates with Scrivener, combining preferences’ text settings, ruler settings, and however you want to lay out files (or whatever default files/labels/statuses you want), then selecting “Save as Template” in the file menu. Then, when you’re creating a project, you should be able to pull it up from the menu, OR, if it isn’t there, find it through that little drop-down menu.

Does this help?

Hi Ting,

Welcome to the forums, and thanks for your feedback. It’s interesting to hear how you are using Scrivener for something different, and how you need to bend it in different ways.To go through the limitations you are experiencing:

PDF highlighting is coming with Scrivener 2.0 (out December/January, hopefully). Until then, the workaround is to use View > Open in > External Editor on any imported PDF files. This allows you to open any PDF files that are contained inside Scrivener in Preview or whatever, and to do the highlighting there. Then just save the PDF, which saves it back inside Scrivener, and then back in Scrivener, click on a different document and then back on the PDF (just to refresh it so that the highlights show). As I say, 2.0 will support this, though, so this is just a workaround for 1.x.

No, I’m afraid there is no way to do this as paste copies text only; it knows nothing of the source (copy and paste is handled at the OS level). However, you have a couple of options:

  1. After pasting, you could drag the original document into the inspector reference pane of the original document.
  2. After pasting, you can select the pasted text, ctrl-click on it and select Scrivener Link, then add the original document as a Scrivener link, so that clicking on the text will open the original document. It’s an extra step, but it achieves what you want.

You can create your own template by just creating a skeletal project that contains the binder structure, keywords, label/status and anything else you will need in all projects created from that template, and then going to File > Save as Template. You can then create new projects based on that skeletal structure. (2.0 will offer a lot more flexibility when it comes to templates.)

Thanks again and all the best,

The only posts concerning how to set up Scrivener to employ the Information Mapping schema/template are from 2014. I am new to the IM methodology, but I am trying to use some of its concepts to help me write a nonfiction how-to iBook. I’m utilizing Scrivener to prep all of my text. Are there any templates or settings or helpful suggestions on incorporating elements of the IM schema/methodology into a Scrivener project? If so, me be mucho obliged!

By the way, I just discovered the “Persuasive” template hiding inside Scrivener. Very helpful!

Joseph Roberson

I don’t know if they are, but it seems quite easy to set some… given that they are mainly page plans and table elements, of what I have seen.

Could you tell us where this template is hiding? It might be of interest to others…