Working with Multi-Columns (Book Format)

Hello, there!

I’m having trouble being able to compose and print/compile in multi-columns. From the documentary and play templates, I can see that it IS possible to work with multi-columns in Scrivener, but I can’t seem to figure out a way to do it in book/novel format.

I’ve tried copying and pasting the tables from those other templates into the book template. It will only compile if I don’t use more than one row’s worth of text. I’ve also tried manually inserting a table, but then no text compiles at all (rather, it compiles but without columns), despite my settings. Plus, I have to keep manually adjusting the text for even distribution. I’m sure that I’m doing something wrong; overlooking something small, at that.

What I’m hoping to do is to take the existing custom novel template I have and incorporate the use of columns on some pages. I can only find reference to Outliner columns, but that seems to be about organization and not layout.

If it’s not possible to do what I want to do, could someone recommend an affordable layout program for Mac, which might play nice with my Scrivenings?

Thanks very much! Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!

Firstly, tables are not a very good tool for this particular job. They are designed for displaying fixed, tabular content in a matrix of rows and columns, much like a spreadsheet. They can be used for a few things beyond that, but their usefulness will wane the further you go from this basic concept. Trying to use them to emulate multi-column layout, such as you might find in a paper, would prove to be far more trouble than it is worth, as I believe you’ve discovered.

What you are looking for is in the Layout compile option pane, when using RTF or one of the word processor formats derived from it, or when using PDF/Print as your output, with the layout type set to “Proofing” in the Print Settings compile pane. As the name implies, proofing is generally not meant for actual publishing, but for some purposes it can be enough. If it you are finding yourself running into one of its limitations (such intelligent scene transitions across page breaks) then you will want to use one of the aformentioned RTF based options (RTF itself is generally the best choice unless the target word processor has difficulties loading it), and a word processor.

This may not be what you need anyway, since it sounds more like you only want some sections to be broken into columns, and Scrivener’s settings are more designed for papers and such where that is the only format that will be used in the work (perhaps after a brief abstract that is single-column).

LibreOffice is going to be the cheapest full-featured word processor. Pages is free these days, but it’s a bit stripped down, and in my testing its handling of columns seems a bit buggy—though I might just not be familiar with it.

Thanks so much, for your reply. I greatly appreciate it.

Normally, I don’t need any fancy layout - and Scrivener is always more than enough for my needs. This particular project involves lyrics that I hope to group together for both aesthetics and the reduction of page count.

I’m going to give LibreOffice a look-see - Thank you for the recommendation. I just upgraded to Mavericks and was shocked to see that Pages wasn’t included anymore. It’s now $19.99, which isn’t a bad price, but yeah… I saw all of those reviews about it being dumbed down further, and that’s kept me from making the purchase. If nothing else works, I’ll have to take that chance.

Thanks for your time. Have a great week!

  • J

LibreOffice is a bit of a clunker. It was never specifically designed for Mac users in mind, and is modelled after a version of MS Word from a long time ago, in terms of overall design and appearance. But, it does do quite a lot, and has broad support for dozens of formats, so it can be a fall-back for cases like this.

Yes, the new Pages is very stripped down, I wouldn’t bother with it if it costs $20. I was under the impression it was free, but perhaps that was only for a little while. In the $20–$40 range, Mellel is superior in my opinion (though granted, a bit idiosyncratic). It works best with RTF, from Scrivener.

You’ve been a big help! Thanks for steering me in the right direction.

I just downloaded the trials for Mellel and Swift Publisher and will give those a shot!

I’ve just begun using this program and don’t know if this is a valid option or not. If trying to do this, I’d create a table in a spreadsheet or word processing program that supports tables then make an image if a table and inserting the image. Can you do this? Don’t know. I haven’t gotten to that portion of the show, yet.

Thank you, CyberDave! I think that’s a valid workaround.

I worked it out, with what I thought was my least likely alternative. It is true that Apple gives Pages for free to those who have new machines and Mavericks installed… but I learned that they also give free upgrades to owners of older Macs, who have the 2009 versions of iLife / iWorks (or their unexpired Trial versions), as well as Mavericks. I took advantage of that offer and it’s worked out well - Pages works fantastic for the layout I was trying to achieve.

In case anyone’s curious… the upgrade doesn’t overwrite your old iWorks apps… you can still use '09, if you prefer it. I like the new versions of the apps, though. I understand the complaints / confusion others have, but in my case, I actually find the new versions less frustrating and less limited for my needs.