Two suggestions to make Scrivener perfect (for me)

I’ve just downloaded Scrivener. I love it already but there are a couple of things that would really improve it for me. One is very small, the other maybe harder:

  1. Scrivener doesn’t support paragraph styles (which is fine) but it means you have put double carriage returns in to visually separate paragraphs. (Like you do in the tutorial.) When I then export into Word, where my default paragraph style includes a half-line extra space following each paragraph, then I have to remove all the superfluous paragraph marks. I know this is trivially easy to do using search and replace, but it would be even nicer if there was a tick-box in the export options allowing me to replace double para marks with single on output. Surely very easy to implement and worth it to make me happy?! More seriously, all the publishers I have worked with deprecate double para marks (along with multiple spaces etc.) as a pointless hangover from typewriter use that’s not required for proper typography.

  2. I don’t know about other people, but there’s little point for me having a place (in Research) to put long PDF documents if I can’t highlight and annotate the few bits that I’m going to want to use later, which is of course what everybody does in the real world. How frustrating that there’s a highlighter icon when you view PDFs, but it’s greyed out! Surely this would be a major productivity enhancer for writers who use a lot of (long) PDF docs in their research?


Amen to number 2, although currently I highlight and annotate in preview (or pdfpen, I forget which) save and then import into scrivener.

Regarding #1, when you go to Text > Spacing . . . I believe you’ll find the necessary settings to put in extra space after paragraphs. Yes? You can also get there by choosing Spacing > Other . . . from the ruler. If you do this in the Typography preferences pane, your choices will be applied to all new documents.

I will admit I find Cocoa’s approach to text styles a bit confusing, but all the necessary ingredients are there, and I can usually eventually figure out how to get what I want.

I second #2, but it may not be easy to do. Perhaps some judicious theft from the DevonThink code is in order. :slight_smile:


errr… you cannot annotate pdfs in Devon either. Preview allows it however.

As others have pointed out, you can definitely do this already. The methods for setting up typography are familiar to those who have used TextEdit, or one of the many Cocoa applications (like Scrivener) that use the same text editing environment that TextEdit uses. There are several ways to accomplish what you want. You can use the menus, or you can pop up a ruler right in your document by pressing Cmd-R. This has some style tools built into it. However, this only works in the current document. Since this sounds like something you are going to always want, I recommend setting it up as a default preference for all of your projects.

Go to Scrivener’s preferences and click on the “Text Editing” icon. In the top section, you will see a little sample paragraph. You can set the font, and by using the ruler you can set up your favourite tab stops, spacing, and styles. This will set up all new documents you make in Scrivener to look the way you want. To go back and apply these changes to existing documents you need to select the documents you wish to change, go to the Documents menu, Convert Formatting > To Default Style. You will get a little warning about the potential for messing up complex documents. 99% of the time this tool is safe to use, though.

Now, that sets up the way Scrivener appears to you. As you may or may not know, Scrivener is designed to look one way, but export another way. This is so you can choose what looks best on a monitor as opposed to what looks best on paper, which are often very different. Adjusting the export appearance is set up on a per project basis, there is no global default. However, using saved export settings, you can easily apply your preferences to new projects. In the Export sheet, go to the Formatting tab. You will be presented with another interface very similar to the one in Preferences, so you know the drill. The default export settings will emulate a submission manuscript appearance. Double-spaced Courier and all that, with indents instead of paragraph spacing.

For more information on this topic, please consult the documentation! In the first few paragraphs of the “Text Editing” document, the Ruler is explained. “Exporting” also goes over these settings.

With #2, this request came up here. In short, Scrivener just uses Apple’s method to display PDFs, which is pretty simplistic but it gets the job done. Preview does not have a highlighter, but it does have some annotation tools. This thread gives some tips on how to integrate the process with Scrivener in an intuitive way.

Thanks to others for fielding this. Just to sum up:

  1. I don’t know where you got the idea that Scrivener doesn’t support paragraph styles, but it most certainly does. As Amber has pointed out, you can set them up via the ruler (cmd-R) or via the Text menu for individual chunks of text; you can set up the default paragraph style for all new documents via Preferences; and you can set up the paragraph style that should be used for export via Export Draft. Single, double, 1.5, space before or after lines or paragraphs - all are supported. I think there is some confusion for users who come from Word. To those users I would recommend the help file of TextEdit, which is the showcase of the OS X text system.

  2. Scrivener is not a PDF editor any more than it is a browser, an image editor or a movie creator. You can view all of these types of media for reference only. It would be quite impossible to make Scrivener’s web viewing abilities compete with those of Safari, its PDF viewing and editing abilities compete with Preview, its image editing abilities compete with PhotoShop, and so forth… However, you can still do exactly what you want. Select the PDF view in the binder, ctrl-click and select “Open in External Editor” (as of 1.01, this will be available in the View menu and as a toolbar item). This will open the PDF file in Preview, where you can annotate it and save it. When you click on it again in Scrivener, it will be annotated as you wish. Basically, Scrivener defers to external - dedicated - editors for media files. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks and all the best,

Thanks all, esp. Amber and Keith, for prompt and helpful responses.

  • Don’t know how I missed the para styles, whoops, how embarrassing. Think I must just have seen the double carriage returns in the tutorial and jumped to unwarranted conclusions. (Plus when you right click, it doesn’t say “Paragraph…” – old Word habits die hard.)

  • Trying not to be a bore about it, but I’d still prefer to be able to highlight PDF docs in situ. But sure, I understand why that might be too hard for you to do. (Preview doesn’t do highlighting, so perhaps I should be bovvering Apple, but in any case I’ve set Adobe Reader as my default app for PDFs, so when I right-click in Scriv I only get the option to open in Adobe, which doesn’t allow any kind of highlighting or annotation.)


Again not what you want, but pdfpen is a reasonable price which allows for many different colours of highlights - might be helpful?

At best, Scrivener could offer no more than Preview. Preview shows off OS X’s PDF system in the same way that TextEdit shows off its text system. Thus, if Preview doesn’t offer what you want, neither could Scrivener anyway.