Word Count Questions

If you are trying to follow a “Three Act” type Structure for your novel, word counts at various stages are really important but I’m having great difficulty with this in Scrivener.

In the Outliner, what is the difference between the Word Count and Total Word Count columns?

Why doesn’t the Outliner have a running total at the bottom of these columns?

If I want to find the word count of parts of my novel (e.g. Chapters 1,2 & 3), how would I do that?

The Manual doesn’t give any help with this and keeps on talking about the “Scrivenings view”. What on Earth is that?

The Manual needs revising. Firstly, if there are going to be differences between the Apple and Windows versions (why?) then these need to be highlighted in the Manual. Secondly, if there are features that don’t exist (i.e. Scrivenings view?) then they should be not be referred to in the Manual. It’s just confusing. :frowning:

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Section 6.4 of the Scrivener for Windows manual talks about scrivenings mode, with access to it being available through the keyboard shortcut of CTRL 1.

literatureandlatte.com/docum … win-a4.pdf

Is that incorrect?


Briar Kit

It’s not incorrect, Briar, but I can’t think it does anything useful - or I’m completely misunderstanding what it is supposed to do.

Do you have any comments about my word count questions?


I’m a Mac user, so I don’t know if things are the same in Windows or not.

Scrivenings view combines any file(s) and / or folder(s) that you select in the binder into a single block of text. This is non-destructive as it just loads the documents into a single stream on a temporary basis for viewing and editing only. It doesn’t change the underlying structure.

In the image below, ‘The Infinitesimal Universe’ is a chapter from a novel, and scenes I, II, and III are the scenes that make up that particular chapter.


If I load ‘The Infinitesimal Universe’ folder into scrivenings view—where it combines all the files into a single block—the footer bar at the bottom of the screen will give me a chapter count.

If I load just scene I, I will see the count for that text file only. If I load scenes I and III, I will see the total count for those two text files.

With scrivenings view, I can load any number of contiguous or non-contiguous folders / text files at any time and see the cumulative count.

So, in your case, you could load chapters 1, 2, and 3 in scrivenings and get the combined count for those chapters.

I assume this is similar in Windows.

Scrivenings is also very useful when loading just one strand of text. For example, I am working on a novel that is set in three different time periods. The novel moves back and forwards through time, but if I want to see all the text from one period as a single block of text—to check for continuity etc—I can.

The image below shows the same chapter in the outliner, with Words and Total Words displayed.

[attachment=0]outliner counts.png[/attachment]

You can see that the folder for ‘The Infinitesimal Universe’ contains a total of 1,669 words—made up from the counts of the individual scenes. The folder itself does not have any words of its own, so its value is zero.

Depending on how many subordinate levels each folder or text file has, the user can see the counts for each individual folder / text file, as well as the total count for all the files and / or folders included in a particular grouping.

Again, I assume this is similar in Windows.

Hope this helps.


Briar Kit

Dear Briar,

You have explained everything perfectly and, yes, it is as you say in the Windows version too.

I am delighted.

And I am delighted too that, using your clear instructions, my novel word count is, so far, conforming to my proposed outline.


Hi James

A pleasure to help.

Happy writing.


Briar Kit