Way to show parallel cards in Arrange by Label view

“arrange by label” won’t allow cards that happen at the same time to be side-by-side (vertical, which i am trying). that makes organizing the cards in a story with different storylines happening at the same time problematic.
the simplest solution might be to allow dividing lines, to separate days/years. i’ll keep looking to see if i’ve missed something others are doing, but i’ve seen this topic pop up over time; not being able to see your story in its accurate timeline (as opposed to the order of pages, as in the binder) is troublesome.


I think the main conceptual issue here is that this view doesn’t represent a timeline. It mainly shows the flow of the text, represented by the “cards”, along multiple axes—whatever those may be (textbook topics for all we know). So with that approach, it would make no sense for there to be two chunks of text in the same column. What would that mean, that both sections of text are printed at once on the same page, overlapping each other? One has to come before the other for the reader—but even time doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with that. It can, if your story is linear, but you could be telling the story backwards through time.

If you want to keep track of time, it would probably be better done with a custom metadata field. You can create one for tracking dates, which has no restrictions on how many sections of text have the same time and date.

Yeah, as AmberV says, that’s not the purpose of arrange by label.

Folks have been requesting a timeline tool for a while in Scrivener. My recollection is that the developer sees such a feature as being out of scope for a generalist tool like Scrivener.

AmberV’s suggestion of a Custom Meta date would give you something to sort by in the Outliner, but that would be a sequential view, without the ability to see different storylines lined up in parallel.

I track things like this in a spreadsheet. You could also check out Aeon Timeline, which integrates to some extent with Scrivener. I haven’t used it, but a number of people on this forum do.


Yeah, that’s part of it, and so thus falls under scope creep, since we don’t generally make features specifically for this or that genre or way of writing—most of Scrivener is as equally applicable to, as I say, textbooks as it is novels. But it also does kind of conflict with the whole concept of how the group view modes are different ways of visualising an outline: single-section list, folding tree view and flat text view—they all complement one another and changes made to one produce recognisable results in another, even in real time if you split the editor and choose different views for the same material.

Creating views that specifically break the metaphor and rules for how an outline works, like having two items in the same exact position at once (or spread apart by a century with nothing in between), would be at odds with how everything else works in concert with each other, and would in essence result in a “decoupled” view mode that doesn’t really have anything to do with the text flow, and hence not much to actually do with the rest of the software.

The closest we get to that is the freeform corkboard mode, but even that is designed to reconcile to narrative order once you get things rearranged the way you prefer.

And with that brought up, that could be a way one could visualise time if they so pleased.

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Only being able to use one row at a time in a completely linear fashion seems like such a massive oversight to me.

What specifically are you trying to see?

On my system, “arrange by label” puts each label in its own row, for as many labels as you have. However, they’re in Binder order, so if the first few documents all have the same label, the other rows will appear blank.

Documents with different labels can’t be put next to each other, only after each other.

That’s because the label view is a reflection of the linear Binder. No two documents can occupy the same “space” at the same time.

I know that arrange-by-label wasn’t made to be a timeline view, but I think a ton of people try to use it as one just to find out it’s inadequate for that.

I also think it would be easiest to just tweak the arrange-by-label section to have the features needed.

  1. Left-static and top-static “bars” for data you can always see chapters or arcs as you scroll
  2. Cards next to each other
  3. Labels that are used specifically for this mode instead of having every label be a line

It seems to be implied by some that “this goes beyond the scope of what Scrivener is for”, and I really have to ask: why would organization like this be outside of Scrivener’s scope? The more I’ve used Scrivener, the harder it’s been to keep track of my plot. I simply need a better way to visualize my plot arcs, yeah? I’ll give you an extra $50 to put in a good timeline feature or tweak the arrange-by-label feature you already have so that it does those things.

If you want an immediate solution, you could also try Aeon Timeline (14 day free trial, about your suggested amount if you decide to buy it), which syncs back and forth with Scrivener projects.

$65 per year, and I really don’t want a separate program— especially one with a big learning curve.

Well, I kind of understand that (though their website lists ~58 EUR one-time and ~32 EUR/year after the first year if you want further updates, but that’s optional). My point was: That’s what you can get right now. Even in a hypothetical scenario where L&L decides to dedicate 100% of dev resources to make Scrivener more “timeliney” (which is as unlikely as it would be welcome) – how long would you be willing to wait for that?

“100% of resources” and “a big new feature” is kind of a strawman statement, isn’t it?

Anyways. I technically made a Plottr-like timeline with a freeform corkboard, with some issues.

  1. One of Scrivener’s biggest weaknesses is scrolling, especially drag-item-scrolling (it’s way too finnicky and slow) or mouse-scrolling (it scrolls far too much with no options to change it). This really hurts fluid index card grid work.
  2. Every time you create a new index card in corkboard, it puts it at the top-left. You have to scroll-drag it to the right place, and it has a very clunky sensitivity.
  3. It’s a little more difficult to work with labels than it should be for a timeline
  4. It would help to be able to change the sizes of individual index cards (as opposed to all at once) if we’re not going to have spreadsheet-like left and top “bars” to list chapters or labels/arcs.
  5. The grid likes to reset size when I close and reopen Scrivener, so I have to manually change the grid size again (this is a bug)
  6. If we’re using the corkboard instead of a dedicated system for a timeline, I can’t just use the files from my outline or other places. I have to create all-new files just for the corkboard timeline. Hypothetically it would just be easier to be able to open my current file group/folder in a timeline-corkboard mode

As I wrote, a “hypothetical scenario”. The best case scenario. And then it would still be a feature / a set of features arriving at some unknown point in the future. Just read my answer as a possible “until then” alternative.


Right-click in the desired location, then choose “Add” from the context menu.

I am confused. You can open any folder in either the standard or freeform corkboard view already.

Of course I’ve tried that a lot and it never, ever worked. It always puts it up in the top-left of the entire corkboard. I should specify that I am talking about the freeform corkboard.

What platform are you on, and with what version of Scrivener? I just tested on my system (current Scrivener, current Mac OS) and it works as described in both the standard and freeform views.

It won’t help if you have a structure. The corkboard shows the subdocuments as a stack, so they’re useless for creating a timeline with. You have to create a brand-new set of files with no structure (chapters, scenes, etc.) if you want to see them all at once such as in a timeline mode.

I’m using Windows 10.