Workaround for outline sort in Windows

I am aware that the ability to sort an outline is one of those advanced features that is not available in the Windows version of Scrivener. However, I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to find a work around. What I would like to do is to save keyword search results as a standard collection, arrange the collection items in an appropriate order, and then view the ordered items in scrivener mode in one editor screen as I draft in a second editor screen.

The only functionality that appears to be available to a Windows user is to manually drag items around in the list of titles that appear in the collections side bar. Unfortunately, the information available in the title is not the information that determines the sort order. The information that determines the sort order has been carefully added to the synopsis card, where it belongs. The synopsis card is conveniently located in the outline view, but the order of items in the outline view cannot be changed.

I have tried both exporting files and compiling the collection in the hope that I could send it to another piece of software that can handle advanced features like sorting. However, the sort criteria are lost in the process, and these solutions are no better than sorting blind on the side bar.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


Hey there.

This sounds like it might be either an area of functionality that’s on the pipeline to fix or maybe even a bug outright. You can normally move items around in the outliner, you just can’t when in a Collection for some reason.

My suggestion is:
Switch your layout so that you have two editors visible (a left and right layout). Use the left one in Outliner and keep it thin. You only need to see the title and synopsis. Use the right hand one as your regular editor (you can use View>Binder Affects to make sure that the binder only changes the editor you want). You can then use the visual info from the left editor to manually move the files in the binder to your heart’s content.

Hey, Pigfender:

That was a good suggestion! It works in its own right, and it also started me experimenting again after I’d given up on Scrivener and decided to use Word for this purpose. In the process, I came across an “undocumented feature” that I would like to share with you. Usually an “undocumented feature” is a polite name for a bug, but sometimes it’s a little jewel of a behavior that you can tuck away until you might need it sometime.

Based on your suggestion, what I came up with is to locate the collection sidebar and the outline of the collection in one editor, and then open a second editor horizontally beneath the outline. This second editor below the outline can be used to read each of the notes in the outline above and decide what label to enter in the outline synopsis field. After each of the synopsis fields in the outline is given an appropriate label, the labels can be grouped together manually by using the sidebar, as you suggested. The little undocumented feature–or at least, a feature previously unknown to me–is that typing in the synopsis field in the outliner opens up a sizable input window. It resembles the formula bar in Excel that can display lots of text that doesn’t show up in the spreadsheet itself. Even more interesting, a scroll bar appears if the amount of text exceeds the size of the default box.

In effect, this feature allows one to create a new kind of “scrivening” by (1) moving information from the note itself to the synopsis field and then by (2) displaying only the synopsis field in the outline. The difference between this ad hoc sort of scrivening and the usual, automated one based on a folder is that it allows one to impose a logical order on a random series of search results so that they are ready to be written up in a draft or higher-order document. For my purposes, that’s very useful indeed.

So thanks again; I’m glad I asked!