What's the simplest way to add Character Names?

I’m having a a little trouble understanding the logic Scrivener uses in accepting character names when you attempt to add one to the Characters list in the Binder.

I just realized I don’t understand the correct way after entering about a dozen names the wrong way: I selected Characters, clicked the green “+” button in the menu bar, then, on the left, typed in my character names to replace the phrase “Character Sketch” that appears –– pre-selected, by the way.

But I realized that when I do it that way, in the form itself, the heading at the top, “Character Name,” remains unchanged. Apparently the correct way is to click the green “+” button, IGNORE the pre-selected phrase “Character Sketch,” and only enter the name inside the form itself, in place of the phrase, “Character Name.” THAT changes “Character Sketch” on the left to the name you’ve entered in the form.

This seems counter-intuitive to me. I would expect editing the (again, pre-selected) phrase, “Character Sketch” would replace “Character Name” inside the form, since the reverse of that works. A pre-selected field usually indicates it’s waiting for you to type something in, but again, if you type the character name there, it doesn’t affect the heading inside, and you have to replace that heading manually. By contrast, the heading inside the form ISN’T pre-selected, and yet you should type your character name there if you want it to auto-populate the bar at the left under Characters.

And what does the phrase “Character Sketch” mean there anyhow?

My question is, if this function is to me so unintuitive, I’m wondering if there’s some other step I’m actually supposed to be taking first when I want to add a new character name. I’ve searched the Scrivener Manual PDF, the Interactive Tutorial, looked at the video tutorials, and finally come here hoping for some answer.


There’s nothing special about the Character Sketch documents. When Scrivener creates a new file, either as a default blank document, or as a document template, it will usually put your cursor in the title field so you can name that file whatever you need to. The content of that file is just a copy of the file from your Templates folder–It has no special properties, such as the ability to reflect the name of the document.

So, you’re not doing anything wrong. My character document titles sometimes differ from the name(s) I put inside the document. For instance, the title may say “Sam”, but inside, it may say “Samuel ‘Sam’ O’Donnell, MD” to convey all the names & honorifics that a character may go by. There’s no automatic fill-in of the document, though that would be kind of neat if it were a feature of Scrivener in some circumstances. My take on it is to just remove anything that’s useless or redundant from the template; you may find that a name in the title means you don’t need it in the body of the file; if so, remove that line from within the file.

As for what a Character Sketch is for? Whatever you need it to be. You can use it before you start writing, to nail down occupations and unusual features (blue hair, tatoos, horns, stamp collecting…), or you can fill in things during an editing phase to make sure you didn’t change eye color, or to make note of significant events, facts & objects that come to them during the story.