Thanks for finishing my thesis, Scrivener!

Thank you for such a great piece of software. My brain was not up to the task of completing my Masters thesis, so Scrivener’s ability to tame my unwieldy octopus of research was indispensable. After two years of multiplatform mind melding it’s done, I’m graduated, and … Thank you!

David Crowley A.L.M.
Harvard University Class of 2013



Congratulations, David! And which application(s) did you use to give your thesis its final form? Nisus? MMD > LaTeX? Something else?

Word. I didn’t really have much choice, because my adviser used Word to review and make comments on my drafts. But I held out as long as I could before switching!

A belated thank you for the kind words! Congratulations on finishing your Masters! (At Harvard, no less.)

Have a great weekend,

Another thank you for helping me finish my thesis.

150 mb and 500 pages of PhD thesis completed.

Excellent software - Scrivener and Papers then Word for citations sadly (could possibly have done it in Nisus and then across to Word but too complex).

One day Word will disappear from my computer!

Congratulations on finishing your PhD thesis!

And thanks for the kind words.

All the best,

I am impressed, because despite multiple attempts, I have not been able to use Scrivener for non-fiction. I’m an academic, working on a book, and thought that Scrivener might be useful. But its strengths seem to be aimed at fiction and screenplay writers. As I recall, I wasted more time organizing little snippets of text, than I gained from the flexibility to move things around.

The two of you obviously had better experiences. What am I missing? I certainly need a way to organize lots of information for this book, but I have ended up using different tools. First, a PDF manager program (I use Eaglefiler). Second, an elaborate outliner program which I use to take notes. An outliner is not ideal for note taking, but it’s a lot better than a straight text editor because I can move information around. (I use OmniOutliner)

I can’t imagine not using Scrivener for long (i.e. book length) documents. I honestly wonder whether I would have finished my doctoral thesis without Scrivener, and have no doubt that if I had done so it would have taken longer and been a poorer product.

I used the binder as a form of outliner. So I had my chapters (Intro, Methodology, Study 1, etc) at the first level, then the major sections within each chapter, then topics broken down into sub-topics and/or specific content for as many levels as needed. I used generally used Scrivenings mode to write, highlighting in the binder the specific sections I wanted to see, then working only on those in the main editor. If I needed to see other sections, I would either use split-screen view or open them in QuickReference windows - this was awesome if I wanted to see source material when writing, or commented drafts when editing.

But how have you tried using it? Perhaps if you explain a little more the challenges you faced, those of us who have adapted it to our wills can shed some more light.

Thanks for the response. Scrivener seems more capable now than when I purchased it - either an upgrade, or I just read the documentation more carefully. I’ll give it a shot for a short section.

The big issue for me has been how to take notes that are not going into the document (or at least, probably not). Those notes are based on various PDF, books, etc… So I have a database of ~5000 documents covering various issues, and I may be working with 5 of those at a time. From them, I copy and paste text, and hand-write my own notes. The same PDF may be the source of notes on several different topics, which should therefore end up in different notes locations.

So far, it appears that I could use Scrivener in conjunction with my existing database (EagleFiler = heartily endorsed) to construct my notes, and use some kind of hierarchy within the Notes folder to manage my notes. I have not tried that approach. The 3x5 card metaphor is promising, although screen real estate quickly becomes an issue in my experience.

One question: what will happen when I need the same material for a different project? Do I have to rebuild everything by hand? (With my existing notes-taking, based on OmniOutliner, I do this with Copy and Paste, but it’s far from ideal.) I certainly do not want to duplicate my PDFs in multiple places, so I don’t anticipate trying to store them inside a Scrivener project, unless there is a way to use virtual linking.

I will report back at some point. Any suggestions on creating links to external documents?

I only have a moment, so I’ll just say: yes, you can create links to PDFs (or any other file) stored outside Scrivener.

I’m sure it’s the manual, but if not repost here and someone’ll point you in the right direction.

Sorry for the brevity.