Word Count Target to reflective overage and underage

I love Scrivener, especially how it keeps me alerted to word count in a document without having to open separate dialogues. However, as much as I like the color coded progress bar and pop-up window telling me I have hit my target, my problem is often that I have too many words, not too few. It would be nice if after you pass your target, you could get descending green-yellow-red and/or a pop-up telling me each time I pass an overage milestone (5%, 10% etc or the like)

My apologies if someone has mentioned this before. It seems obvious to me, but I could not find it on the boards.

Matthew White

Yeah, this is something we have given some thought to in the past, and we might look into it again for future versions of the software. Basically our progress system revolves around writing new content more than it does editing existing content down. Some way of having an inverse goal, or just a flexible +/- read-out would be nice to address. The best I’ve come up with as an idea is to have the progress bar stay at 100%, but have another colour (like red) overlapping it which works from right to left. So if you are at 800 of a 500 goal, there would be a bar that extends nearly to the middle, and as you cut that down it would shrink until reaching the right-hand side, represented by 500 words. The main problem with that idea is if you have 1,800 words instead of 800. Would that overlapping right-to-left bar just max out for 800 words of cutting until you get down to 1,000 (500 * 2 since the bar goes all the way to the right and then back to the left) or what? A more dynamic system might be to continue the traditional left-to-right, but proportionally colouring an “overage” bar in a solid colour. So it would be a percentage of the goal total compared to whatever is over that goal. In the case of 1,800 words, about 1/3 of the bar would be coloured normally and then 2/3 would be the solid “Your editor will scream at you!” colour.

At any rate, as you can see there are some details to work out in that idea, which is why it has not yet come to fruition.

@AmberV: What about continuing the rainbow?
Under: Red -> Orange -> Yellow
Just right: Green
Over: Blue -> Indigo -> Violet

This could work well both for those who want to watch their wordage and those who are thrilled to get past their target.

Yeah, that’s kind of what I meant by the second option—the bar would just continue on but in a modified format. Purely relying on colour is probably not reliable enough, on account of colour blindness, but something like a crosshatch pattern in the overage area, or anything along those lines could do the trick.

I am pleased this is being considered.

If it is too problematic, I understand. I, for one, hate it when a valued piece of software grows into an unusable behemoth trying to please everyone.

I am very pleased you are considering such issues as colorblindness. Not that I am colorblind, but it is in general a wonderful thing when designers keep issues of accessibility and Universal Design on the table.

It makes me even more happy I use Scrivener.

I was thinking of this, and I think I came up with a possibility.

Once the goal is surpassed, place a ‘x2’ either in the middle of the bar or to the side (depending on what is easier). Then the bar could be ‘emptied’, so to speak, or filled with another color/pattern. I guess it would depend on what is clearer that you’ve reached your goal already. Once the goal has exceeded double, simply make it ‘x3’. I’m not sure if it would be better to use a different color/pattern than ‘x2’ or to just ‘reuse’ it.

I was searching on this forum for something like this!

I have been working on three different writing projects in the past year, which all have max word counts:

Article: editor says “500 to 600 words”. Would it be possible to set a word count interval? I don’t really mind about the status bar, it should definitely not be green if I’m at 800 words :stuck_out_tongue: (a “my editor will scream at you colour” would do), but the percentage could say 133% or something like that.

Statement of purpose for college application: try to fit your entire life and your research proposal in 1000 words. The writing process would be easier if you had the option to automatically make excess words at the end red (or any other desired colour).

Conference paper: Is there a way you can set the word count for several texts? Right now I have an introduction (which holds a general intro) and a State of the Art and Problem Area embedded within the intro. The intro in total can’t be more than 500, but if I set it to 500, it won’t count the embedded documents.

That said, I love Scrivener, also for these writing projects.

I like the suggestion of the bar continuing in a different “overage” color, but I have a simpler idea that may be easier to implement, and more appropriate in some circumstances: Just provide an option (like switching between word & character count targets) that allows the user to choose whether they meant the targets as “goals” (with the color scale as is) or as “limits” (with a reversed color scale, getting redder as you approach and surpass your limit). That would work better for my format (scientific research journal articles), as well as for many academic assignments (such as the previously suggested college admissions essay), which may simply be rejected based on failure to follow instructions when given an explicit word limit - you don’t just want a tiny sliver of red to indicate that you’ve gone 1% over a hard limit!

I would also suggest a similar toggle for the choice of giving a target just for the single file or for all of a container’s documents. I see that I can add “total word count” to my outline view, so I can compare that number with my target, but a visual representation would be nice.


I want to second this idea. I do not write to fill an empty space, but rather, to meet a certain objective plus or minus. So, I’ll have 12 sections (chapters, whatever) and I want them all to be the same length plus or minus, so my target may be 5K words per section, but 3.5K and 6K are all good.

I use the progress bars like this now. If my target is 4K, I set the target at 5500, for example. But that is kludge.

Think of it like the meter on a tape recorder (remember them?) You wanted the needle to bounce regularly past the “maximum” level but not stay there for any time.

This has been implemented for the next Mac update, although it will be a while before it gets into the Windows and Linux versions as there are higher priorities that will come first. It looks like this (percentages are optional):