User-friendly consistency

It’s funny to me when I read others talking about Scrivener’s consistency when that is my chief complaint AGAINST Scrivener. Things that seem to work fine once…then never work again. Things that seem supremely logical to me can’t be done in Scrivener, or can’t be done on a consistent basis.

Yes, Scrivener has a laundry list of features - now if only they worked (or were even understandable). And I used to be a programmer! I have, however, left that career far behind me, and all I want to do these days is write complex sci-fi and fantasy, I don’t want do do what I’ve had to do these last months with Scrivener, try and learn a bunch of systems just to get my thoughts on a page. By and large it doesn’t even many good, user-friendly tutorials.

To give specific examples, I wanted to set up my working screen to have three different panels: Left panel for writing, right-panel top or bottom for Scrivenings and the other for corkboard. That way I could keep track of plot lines and how the whole manuscript flows. After a long, frustrating amount of research, this just does not seem to be possible. In fact, most ways that I set up the panels for work for a while and then stop. I can’t even get Scrivenings to show up on a consistent basis even if it’s the only thing on the right side!

Secondly trying to keep track of all the information in a ~900 page document is a case point in frustration in Scrivener. Yes, I can apply a keyword to a file/scene. But L&L’s help files state under ‘Using Keywords to Manage your Scrivener projects’ that:

’ ###Finding documents with keywords

The main reason to use keywords is so you can later find documents to which you have applied them. You can, of course, scroll through your Binder, checking the Metadata tab of the Inspector, but there are easier ways to find tagged documents. If you click the magnifying glass icon, Scrivener performs a search for all documents with keywords assigned. The Binder displays the search results, and you can click any document to view it.’

I have no idea what version of Scrivener they are using, but my version ( doesn’t say or do that at all? (I have 4 different options: Project Search, Search in Document, Find by Formatting and Project Replace - none of which allows search by keyword, so I’m guessing I would have to remember the exact wording of the keyword - problematic when there are over two dozen). In addition, even if I make a keyword linking to (for example) a location, Scrivener still doesn’t connect those scenes to the actual element in the Places folder (for some bizarre reason), so I have to go through and manually link each scene if I want that to work.

It’s like L&L is that snooty English grandfather (Almost all my relatives are all from the UK, even if I’m first gen Can-American) that refuses to make things easy or clear, just so you have to learn how do do things HIS way, and they refuse to make things user-friendly just because they are the current ‘industry standard’.

I have experimented with a whole bunch of different writing software because I really want an all-in-one solution… I just want to write the book that is torching my brain demanding it. I’ve found a lot of options that do MOST of what I want, and something just horrible. And then I come back to Scrivener for a while, until it frustrates me to the point that I try something else. And I think it’s extremely ironic that the program that comes closest to what I need isn’t novel-writing software at all - it’s Final Draft 13, my screenwriting software (this may be my first novel but I’ve written six screenplays). In fact, I’ve implored them to work on their manuscript templates so that I and others can switch, because if L&L hasn’t paid attention to the plethora of voices talking about how complicated and obtuse Scrivener is so far… chances are they’re just going to ignore this as well. Too bad because this really could have been the industry’s future as well as present.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Remember, my fellow authors, you are all awesome and amazing- the creators and killers of dragons and worlds beyond measure! :slight_smile:

Project Search will search by keyword. Check the dropdown list in the Project Search bar for that and other search options.

How is Scrivener supposed to know that’s what you want? It’s a computer. It has no concept of what a “place” even is. Although certainly you can find your “Tokyo” setting sheet, documents containing the word “Tokyo,” and documents with the “Tokyo” keyword all with a single search.

It’s kind of funny that you point to Final Draft as a “less complicated” alternative to Scrivener. That’s certainly not the feedback we get from other Final Draft users who have adopted Scrivener.


To search by keywords it must be identical to the keyword you want. Open the keyword panel and organize to easily find your keyword. Save the search as a dynamic collection and run again as your project expands.
If you want A scrivenings view, a corkboard view and a file to compare to.
Then open file and open as a quick reference panel. If multi monitor setup put on second monitor. Now split editor screen into scrivenings view on one side and other in corkboard view.
Go to town.
On my author website I have multiple keyword articles and other.


How is Scrivener supposed to know that’s what you want? It’s a computer. It has no concept of what a “place” even is. Although certainly you can find your “Tokyo” setting sheet, documents containing the word “Tokyo,” and documents with the “Tokyo” keyword all with a single search.

I’m not expecting Scrivener to automatically know things (because it is a computer program). What I was commenting on is there’s seemingly no way for me to connect the element (that exists under the Places tab) with the scenes that I’m using the keyword with.

I’ll try to put it a different way: I’ve created a town (lets call it Anytown, NY) and put a lot of information into that element. What I would love to do is to have it connect that ‘place’ and that ‘scene’ without me having to do it one at a time, considering that each time I have to scroll DOWN to the place (a long way, as there are over 50 scene markers) and then scroll UP to the scene - over and over again. It seems logical that you should be able to do that with a keyword - but that isn’t the reality. And maybe there’s an easy way to do it that I just haven’t figured out yet - but that goes back to the support files being somewhat obtuse.

I’m ok if you prove me wrong - like I repeatedly said, if I can make it work I’d be more than happy as all I want to do is write, not fiddle about learning another program. I just have a lot of information I want to be able to connect within the manuscript that I can’t figure out how to make work within Scrivener. It’s frustrating.

ps. For myself over the past 15 or so years, I haven’t found any comprehensive screenwriting programs to even come close to beating FD, but everything comes down to your writing style - what works for some does not work for others. Have a wonderful week!

What do you mean by “connect?” Links, bookmarks, and keywords are all in the ballpark. But there’s no way for Scrivener to know that the two are related unless you tell it explicitly, by assigning metadata, or implicitly by defining a search that finds both items.

If it were me, I would assign a Project Bookmark to the folder that had all of my “place” descriptions in it. Then I would open that folder in a Quick Reference pane, using the Bookmark list as a mini-Binder to allow me to jump to whatever specific place description I needed and just have it sit there while I worked on the scene.

I might also assign a keyword for the place to both the place description and the relevant scenes. That might come in handy for continuity checking, for instance.


Well, you could hide the Binder, but that would be unwieldy. It will always be on the left side of the screen. The Main Editor, or the Other Editor when the Editor is split, will always be front and center. Hiding the Inspector in the right-hand side column is also an option, but you would miss lots of useful metadata of your documents and folders.

The Scrivener UI is not as flexible as you’d like, but that’s okay, because all elements are already in the optimal place for writing.

The Corkboard and Scrivenings are, together with the Outliner, the three main View Modes. They cancel each other out when used, because they all need a lot of screen real estate to function.

In the Window > Layouts menu, you’ll find options to save a screen configuration you like. It saves panel locations and selected tabs, split editors, and position of Toolbars, for example.

Hope this helps

Ps. If the extensive Scrivener Manual is a bit overwhelming, a good book may help you with mastering Scrivener quickly.


Click the left most icon for Scrivening on or Scrivenings off. It’s your choice, which will stick until you change it.
Understand that you need to be at a higher hierarchical level to see your work in Scrivenings mode.
In the picture below, if I click on the folder Hacking the Meetup with Scrivenings mode on, I will get a view of Hacking the Meetup and Scene 1 to 3 in Scrivenings mode --as one continuous display in the editor.
However, if I click one the scenes which doesn’t have underlying documents, then all I’ll see is the content of the particular scene.
That’s pretty intuitive expected behaviour, and by no means inconsistent.


Clicking on a folder or document again with underlying documents or folders would auto-revert me to Scrivenings mode.

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Save your setup as a layout. Yes, you could lose layouts to the default when moving to other areas of the project, but a saved layout is three clicks away. Setup once and use repeatedly.

Click on the brown and white Layout icon.

Most Windows users use version, like you do.

Click on the keywords icon to bring up a popup of all your keywords.
Click on the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the popup and click on a specific keyword to search all instances of the keyword in your manuscript.

You can go one step further if you like and save the result as a search collection by clicking on the magnifying glass alongside the search criteria (above the listed search result) and selecting the bottom most option in the popover menu.

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Again, it’s up to how you choose to do things, meaning Scrivener is not prescriptive how you should do something but leaves it to whatever creative means you choose.

Because I’m a visual writer, I’m not interested in what others see in a place. I prefer to look at a picture and describe what I see and many a time I fit that with the mood or prevailing atmosphere in the particular part of the storyline.

I get this right by adding external links to pictures, articles or websites: Ctrl+Shift+L brings up a popup that allows you to either navigate to the destination or paste a link. For example:

  1. I have a Places Folder with different places I wish to reference in a list.

  1. Each item is an external link (hyperlink, if you will), though you can link as you like and do this within Scrivener if YOU choose.

  1. Drag your Places to Project Bookmark and when you click on it, you linked documents related to Places in this instance, would be available from the preview pane below the Bookmarks list. Clicking on them will take you to the destination of the click.

Whether you’re in the Manuscript folder or any of its underlying documents, or in the Trash folder – which sometimes may be the case, you’ll always have access to your bookmarks without leaving your WIP or having to scroll 50 folders or 900 documents away. The only time you won’t be able to do this is if you’re in Document Bookmarks mode. The swap between Project Bookmarks and Document Bookmarks is Ctrl+6.

What I’ve stated is not the be-all and end-all of how best to organise your work. It’s my choice and the app is versatile enough to allow me to be creative according to my needs. It definitely not a one size fits all program.


The closest you’ll get to your desired layout is something like this:

What you’re seeing is:

  • The Binder on the far left.
  • The left Editor pane top has the Corkboard, and the bottom has a Copyholder
  • The right Editor pane contains the Scrivenings view
  • The Inspector is hidden

You could control the contents of the Copyholder via the Binder and/or the Corkboard.

Personally, instead of trying to do everything in Scrivener’s main window, I’ve grown to greatly prefer Quick Reference panels, which I use almost exclusively for editing these days. I leave the main window for accessing research materials, and, same as you, tracking plotlines and how the manuscript flows. And also as a launch pad for QR panels. :nerd_face:

Because I find the Corkboard view too limiting, my typical layout looks more like this:

What you’re seeing here is:

  • The Binder on the far left.
  • The left Editor pane top has the Outliner, and the bottom has a Copyholder (controlled by the Outliner)
  • The right Editor pane top also an Outliner, and the bottom has a Copyholder (controlled by the Outliner)
  • Not shown would be one or more QR panels, in which I’d be editing.

When I’m checking for flow, I’ll drop a Copyholder and incorporate Scrivenings view in the right Editor:

Hope you find this helpful.



That is a fantastic idea! I can totally do that, and then place my editing/writing frame on my second monitor, where it can stand alone and minimize my ADHD. Thank you so much for sharing this with me! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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As a followup question, is there any way that I can set things up so that when I click on the corkboard or outline item for a scene, it automatically updates the quick-reference panel to that scene? Right now I have to open up new quick-ref panels for each scene and close the old one, which is pretty inefficient. I do recall a template where it worked similar to that, when I clicked the outline item the copyholder frame updated (though I haven’t been able to figure out how that was done yet) but I don’t know if the reference pane (outside the main display) can be made to work the same way?

Thanks in advance!

Rather describe what you’re trying to achieve than comment on the efficiencies of Scrivener. I doubt many around here value those types of comments.

You can happily keep thousands of Quick Reference Panels open, never closing them. When you exit Scrivener, they’ll all close with the latest update. Try watching a document in the editor and open the same in a QR panel to edit it. You’ll see the editor update as you type in the QR panel.

What you may not know is that the Corkboard is directly connected to the Synopsis of the editor document/folder that has focus, in the same way that the Outliner items are (for the most part) directly connected to the Inspector’s Metadata Tab for the respective document/folder you’re working on.

That’s pretty efficient in my book.


It doesn’t solve the problem for the general case, but for frequently referenced files you can use the Bookmarks list as a mini-Binder for a Quick Reference pane.


No. Once launched, QR panels are navigationally detached from Scrivener’s main window. That’s a key part of their design and usefulness.

They may seem inefficient to you, but–respectfully–that’s less about their actual inefficiency and more about your lack of Scrivener knowledge. :nerd_face: Remedy this by learning more about what QR panels can do.

Read this thread and this one.

Then launch the Interactive Tutorial (Help > About) for an overview of Quick Reference Panels. Read the following documents:

  • Draft > Going Further > Referring to More Documents > Quick Reference Panels
  • Draft > Going Further > Organization Tools > Using Bookmarks for Project Notes

Once you’ve got an overview, get into the details of QR panels in the Scrivener Manual (F1), in section 12.6 Quick Reference.

You might as well learn about Copyholders too. :sunglasses:

In the Interactive Tutorial, get an overview of Copyholders:

  • Draft > Going Further > Referring to More Documents > Copyholders

Then dive into the details in the Scrivener Manual, section 8.1.5 Using Copyholders. The answer to your question above is noted there, but section 12.2.5 Linking Splits Together has a helpful screenshot.

After I read the material suggested above myself, it completely changed the way I work in Scrivener. I hope you find it helpful too. It will give you the background to understand what I was doing in the posts I linked above.

Please feel free to follow-up with questions.



I wasn’t referring to Scrivener itself being inefficient, I was more referring to that workflow being inefficient for the way I work. That’s it - it was just a question, no suppositions on my end. I’m just trying to find to develop a day-to-day workflow so I can pump out my 5-6k words a day.

By the way, thank you for answering my question in your first response. That’s all I was wondering, if it was at all possible.

And I do appreciate all the help I’ve gotten from everyone - I’ve had some issues with Scrivener (some of which I still think are valid, some of which I’ve been totally wrong about and have apologized for), but the Scrivener community has been pretty fantastic.

Thanks, and have a great week everyone!