Updating a Template

I am working on a paper now in Scrivener and I keep adding features (Labels, Status, keywords), which I find useful and I would like to use them in future files. I found the option to create a Template out of the current file, and I did so. However, I keep adding features I like, and I am wondering if there is a way to add these features to the template I created without adding the content. In a sense I want to update the template periodically.

My second related question is this: I have several other Scrivener files for other papers on which I am working though they are currently not my top priority. This means that the set up for these files (labels, Status, etc.) is not as updated as I want them to be. Is there a way for me to update these files without starting adding all these features manually.

Would a better solution be to have one database type of Scrivener file in which I work on all papers rather than to have a separate file for each paper.

I can only address this last item with any semblance of (modest) authority.

Scrivener projects are very capacious. I would not put isolate papers/essays into different Scriv projects. They are unlikely to be so big or complicated as to see any benefit by breaking them off into their own projects. And you lose some benefits by not keeping them together. In my workflow, no smallish endeavor ends up in a Scriv project of its own.

In my workflow I have a small set of Scriv projects that each house the beginnings of tasks of their respective types. So I have one for miscellaneous Work related things, one for Teaching related things, one for Research related stuff, etc., and then ones for various kinds of literary pursuit – one might house just story ideas, for example, or one might house my compendium of wisdom and materials relating to the craft of writing. If the seed of an idea becomes a serious endeavor of scale (like, book-sized endeavor), then that will get split off into a project of its own when it is time to work on it in earnest.

In short, all my Scrivener efforts originate in one of a stable set of compendium projects and only ones that are of significant scale get separated off into their own projects.


Since Scrivener does not distinguish content vs features, that part is definitely up to you. Consider how difficult it would be for software to figure out that out from a document you left in the Research folder as a writing-prompt, meant to be included in every new project, or even the little blue icon help files we put at the top of our built-in templates. Those would look like content to software as well. It’s a necessary downside of how flexible project templates are. They literally are projects. You can save a completed research paper as a template and then whenever you use it you’ll get something 100% ready to compile to Word, every single word, setting research file and icon saved into it.

As for myself, I tend to change the approach I use depending upon the scale of the template update, but what I try to do when I’m refining a new template is keep a live project around just for that template. I don’t write into it or anything, but when I change something like adding a set of labels or starter keywords, I open up that project and duplicate my changes there (note for some things you can drag and drop between open projects into respective windows—for example dragging keywords between projects by dragging from project A’s keyword lists to B’s, or template files from one binder to another).

You don’t have to keep a live project around, it’s just a convenience. It’s also easy to make a new project from the template you wish to edit somewhere, edit the project, update the template and then delete the scratch project. Over time, once the evolution of a template slows down, I usually do fall back to that method instead of keeping a separate project version of the template around.

Again try drag and drop when you can. For labels, that means opening the Meta-Data Settings panel on both projects to their “Labels” tab, and then selecting and dragging them between. That won’t work for everything, but you should find a good general rule of thumb to try before manually implementing changes. You can also import meta-data into a project via the files the meta-data is assigned to in most cases. For instance if you assign a new label to a file and then drag that file into the binder of a project that does not have that label, one will be created for it.

With a firm disclaimer here that there is no right answer, it’s what works best for you and the material: I would say that decision should rest more within the demands of the content, than any hassle with normalising settings between projects. Hopefully the above tricks help to mitigate that, but as well, at least for me I don’t tend to continue making changes of that nature forever, but like I say, for myself anyway these kinds of changes stop coming so frequently once a new template or project is established.

For content though, the reasons for merging are more compelling to me. I like thinking about a project in terms of topic or intention. Related papers, perhaps even sharing research material, all conforming to the same publication standard, benefiting from a shared research pool—yeah, just like I’d advise someone writing a TV show to put as many seasons into one project as they can, or a trilogy, there are very few downsides to doing that and some really strong positive arguments.

If the stuff has nothing to do with each other and only benefits from periodic meta-data updates (and hopefully the drag and drop stuff will mitigate that for you!) might be sacrificing more than you’d like, as the benefits could even become liabilities. Do you want search results showing you stuff from a paper you’ve already written that no overlap with the one you’re working on? Well you can go into search settings and constrain them to a particular folder or selection, but that’s the kind of fiddly overhead you’re trying to minimise in the first place. With a multi-output project you have to manage the export settings more frequently, changing meta-data in the Compile pane, etc.

Again though, that’s just one person’s opinion. :slight_smile: It’s not a risky decision to play with—it’s easy to merge and split projects. It’s not something you’d want to do all of the time, but you won’t be creating hours of nightmare for yourself by giving it a try. Again, drag and drop is a good friend (and File/Import/Scrivener Project… picks up where that becomes inconvenient). And if you want to split them back out in the future: duplicate the project and delete the other half from each respectively.

Truth be told, when I want to create a new project, I most often just go to the Finder and duplicate an existing, currently active project – the one whose developed settings and labels, etc. are most suited/similar to the thing I need a project file for. I open the newly christened project and pretty much just toss out all the content that came over – unless I have some template docs in there or other structural stuff that I want in the new project, of course.

Thanks, GR and AmberV. I use DevonThink where some preliminary work happens before I open Scrivener, but I realize that since all of my projects to date relate to different aspects of the same topic, it makes sense to have one Scrivener database. I will be reusing some of the materials in new projects; some information will become may end up being just bulk, but may be it will also inspire new ideas.

Scrivener allows granularity of the project much more easily than DTPO (Command K is one of my favorite shortcuts), and it has a visual component (cork board). These are two features that are really appealing to me and that are lacking from DDTPO. DTPO is great for archiving all sources which makes it my uber storage place. I have to find the right balance between both apps. Thanks for your input.


There is (are?) a goodly number folks here who use both Scrivener and DT. It is probably worth searching around, esp. in the Usage Scenarios and Scrivener Tips subforums for thoughts on using them together. And queries in those places can also bring you help as needed from those same folks, I’ll warrant.


P.S. A belated welcome to the forums!

Thanks, GR! Many thanks for your patient answers to my questions!

I am currently guided by the advice I have seen in organizingcreativity.com blog. It has helped my workflow. I will definitely explore the forum for more Scrivener-DTPO connections.