Unconventional usage for Scrivener - data management

I’m about to become a magazine publisher and, having had a great experience with Scrivener as a novelist, I’m thinking about using it as a tool for managing my resources for the magazine: photos, web pages, ideas for stories, contacts, etc etc. Essentially without the goal in mind to eventually output a single work, like a novel - more just a way to keep the very large backend of things organized.

Does anyone else use Scrivener in a similar way? Any recommendations? I’ve never really employed any of the meta-data tools, which seem perfect for what I’m doing now. I have always used a Novel template, which won’t work not…I’ll have to create something custom. I’ve never needed to organize such a large (and ever-expanding) collection of research - I’m sort of winging it!

Anyone have any suggestions for:
Creating a data management-style template for my binder?
Links to learn how to use meta-data for organizing large amounts of research-type bits and pieces?
Any other helpful tools to employ to use Scrivener this ‘data-management’ type way?
Any other software (that syncs with Scrivener) that might be helpful?

I’d step back and consider what you need to manage - it sounds like you’re trying to organize reference material with a tool made for project material. See macademic.org/2014/02/09/tags-o … -the-file/ for a great discussion of the issues.

I wouldn’t use Scrivener at all for that, but rather an app that is tailored for exactly this kind of task, like DEVONthink Pro. If DEVONthink feels like overkill, I’d probably settle for Evernote or OneNote or some similar app.

I used Scrivener to edit a magazine (128-160 pages, seven issues a year) for almost ten years. I read all the submissions in Scrivener (after we went to email submissions only), rejected or accepted them, stored them in categories, storyboarded the issues, edited the features and columns, including the back and forth with the author (note that there’s no Track Changes, but I sent certain fussy authors Snapshots of their edits if they squawked). I planned future issues, generated TOCs, wrote the copy for photo essays, handled letters to the editor–pretty much everything.

My managing editor (located at our HQ, 1500 miles away), handled contracts and payments and such, and our art director handled art and photo submissions, and did all the layout in InDesign. I proofed in InCopy.

My working methods, and whatever templates I used, evolved as Scrivener evolved (I started using Scrivener in the second Beta, I believe). It began as my principal writing tool, and became my everything tool. I retired from editing in February, and on my way out the door I emailed a zipped copy of my Magazine Master project to the new editor, who’d just downloaded a copy of the program on the corporate dime, and was rushing through the tutorial.

It may not do everything you need. But it certainly did everything I needed.

Just thought I’d a couple thoughts …

I want Scrivener to work for this, too. But, it has some shortcomings when used (or abused, as I’m sure some will say) for this. Let me explain:

I’m an Evernote user. I use it as a digital second brain, and I also use it to collect ideas (including outlines in some cases) for articles, etc. I’m annoyed with Evernote because it refuses to make improvements to better handle basic text functions and multi-level outlines. Things that Scrivener excels at.

So I’d love to just keep everything in Scrivener. And having it on ios has made me want it even more.

But Evernote has a few key features that keep me using it. Example:

  1. Ability to clip web pages directly into Evernote.
  2. I can email things to Evernote. The ability to quickly sending web addresses, things to remember, and story ideas (including outlines, at times) to myself saves a lot of time vs. opening Scrivener. Especially when I quickly send things via an App called Drafts. It takes me 10 seconds to move an idea from my brain to Evernote via email via DRAFTS. There’s no way to email things to Scrivener. I’m willing to bet that isn’t going to change.
  3. Ability to collaborate directly with others, digitally. I’m collaborating with my daughter on some ideas for a book she is planning. This is very easy in Evernote. We can both add ideas, make changes, and leave comments. Not doable in Scrivener.

So I send things into Evernote to save time, then I move them to Scrivener for organizing/finishing. I like the binder tree in Scrivener much better in Scrivener. And the basic writing tools are 100 times better in Scrivener.

Scrivener has Labels and Status attributes you can use (abuse) to support your workflow and organizing style.

As for a template, you will probably need to roll your own.

Just sharing.

Good luck!

3 is perfectly possible. I’ve been doing it for several years with a collaborator, as have others. Make sure your daughter is using Scrivener, put the active project in a shared Dropbox folder or Cubby. Then: a) follow the guidelines on using Dropbox/Cubby, ensuring you both always close the project when finishing a session, and allow time for the service to do its stuff; b) work out an access schedule or use a system like Skype/Text/phonecall to make sure you don’t both try to have the project open at the same time.


Thanks Mark. You are absolutely right and it could work. I said what I did because I have a hard enough time not wreaking havoc with just me sharing a project between iphone, ipad, and my laptop. Adding another person to the mix seems like a certain invitation for repeated headaches. Nevertheless, I should have been more precise and said something like, “Ability to collaborate with others without asking for a lot of trouble from out of sync problems”. I think we can all agree Scrivener is not built for multiple people to work on a project directly. Frankly, Evernote is not magical in that regard either, but it is better.