Wrap to Page?


I love Scrivener, but I’ve just spent the last hour trying to make it do something it probably won’t do: show page breaks in the full screen mode. I know, I know, some people are distracted by page breaks apparently, but I’m not, no more than I’m distracted by having to turn the pages of a book. If I wanted to write on one continuous piece of paper I’d be Jack Kerouac. (Well, I’d be like Kerouac in only the tiniest way, but you get my point.)

In WriteRoom, the solution is straightforward: you tick “wrap to page” under Preferences>General, and it makes nice little breaks (20 or so pixels of background color) between pages in the full screen mode. That’s it. No formatting, it just tells me when one page starts and another begins.

Leaving aside all the psychological benefits I could name, being able to see pages going by helps me to navigate my manuscripts, and it also helps me to communicate with editors and agent, who always want to know what page I’m talking about when we’re talking on the phone. Being able to say, “It’s the page that begins, ‘In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland…’” Even better, while I’m in full screen mode, it would be great for navigating the manuscript; sometimes I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but I know that it’s roughly X pages into the manuscript, and I’d find it faster if I could just flip the pages; after scrolling for more than a few seconds, I lose my sense of how far I’ve gone into the manuscript.

So, if there’s a work-around that would let me see pages, please let me know. Otherwise, consider this for the “Wish List.”


I like that Writeroom-ish idea of a subtle page indicator. I know that’s not full screen purity, but I like pages as a way of gauging rhythm and pace.

Sometimes, too, the free flow of thoughts can get too free. The endless scroll of full screen mode can invite prolonged bouts of self-indulgent waffle. At least with page indicators, you know that you’re onto page five of your riff. If it feels that good for that long, most of it is bound to be worthless - at least in my unhappy experience.

Just a thought though… How would you deal with output formating?

If you think about it margin, page size, font sizes, tab stops and the like are set as option in compiling draft. so anything that you display in full screen mode is very likely to not match the distributed print anyway.

I think KB and the MM folks would consider scriv a “authors display and management tool” and indicate that the formatting at the level you mention is not part of scriv, but part of MM or other export/render engines. If KB tries to tie UI display to actual output then scriv becomes a desktop publisher tool not an authoring tool.

I could be wrong on this though.

This has been discussed a few times.

Scrivener has no concept of a page at all, and is unlikely to in the near future (at least until a 2.x release, and even then I don’t think Keith is too keen on this one).

There are a few arguments around this:

  1. Page layout is something best handled by a dedicated program, and Keith doesn’t want to invest time implementing something that will always be handled better elsewhere anyway;

  2. Because Scrivener is designed to write in one font and export to another , the pages while composing do not correlate to the pages in the printed copy anyway.

  3. Because Scrivener is designed so that work can be broken into lots of small files, paging would again be meaningless once these are filed together.

So it will need to become a wish-list item rather than tech support, but I think those are the arguments I remember from last time it was raised.


I don’t know that it’s possible to tie page indicators exactly to character counts/fonts/line spacings. (It might be, but it feels complicated) Maybe there could be a simple preference setting under the Full Screen prefs, allowing the user to set the number of pixels between page indicators? The understanding would be that the indicators are guides to pacing, not a direct reflection of printed output.

Of course, I haven’t got a clue as to how complex this might be to code. I’m here to speculate, not to be useful.

I suppose this comes down to a question of whether the issue of pages is a philosophical one for Scrivener, or a technical one that its creators would rather not tackle.

If it’s technical, a pain in the arse that they’d prefer not to code, I understand completely. (I wonder how WriteRoom does it so easily while maintaining the most spartan and distraction-free workspace available, but I digress.)

If it’s philosophical (or just a matter of policy), I’d point out a couple of things:

  1. The appearance of the screen, in both the editor and full-screen modes is already customizable: fonts, font sizes, basic text augmentation (italics, bold, underline), the width of the window in full-screen mode, whether that window is letterbox or not, whether the screen scrolls in typewriter mode or not, and various other things. Some of these elements have no bearing on the final compiled document, and yet they’re provided as a courtesy to the writer. (If you’ve ever read the Great Italics Wars on the Ulysses forums, you’ll know how much of a concession italics can be to some people, thankfully not here at Scrivener.)

My point: if you’re already deviating from strict text editing to make the writing experience more appealing and comfortable to the writer, why are pages philosophically suspect? This is a sincere question.

  1. I can’t believe Scrivener is only intended to compile lots of little files of lengths so short that paging is beside the point. I write chapters that are 20-40 “pages” (280-300 “words” a page, roughly) sometimes. Though these chapters are often cobbled together from shorter pieces, at some point I want to work on them at their full size so I can see how they flow (and, perhaps, whether they need to be split, reduced, etc.). Again: paging through a 40-page document is more intuitive, to my mind, than scrolling through one very long vertically arranged document.

  2. I believe the page, as a unit, is crucial to thinking about and working on longer documents. I need pages. Maybe I’m the only one.

  3. Finally, while I’m fantasizing (and now, I guess, this ought to be posted on the Wish List; I’m not sure how to move this thread; if anyone else does, please let me know!), I wonder if it will soon be possible to make use of OS X’s “cover flow” functionality to change the way text editors present pages. I’d much rather page through my books like they were books, rather than scrolling vertically down, down down, endlessly. That is, I’d like to turn pages. Cover flow comes close to this experience, which I think is more intuitive and more closely allied with the way our brains organize information. For instance, if you had to show someone five objects, and you had a table to lay them on, how would you do it? Would you arrange them vertically with respect to the viewer, or horizontally? I expect most of us would arrange them horizontally without thinking about it. In most of the world, people read from left to right (or right to left), not top to bottom. I expect there’s a good reason for this that’s wrapped up in cognitive theory. Peripheral vision and the arrangement of our orbitals allows us to take in far more information along the horizontal axis than along the vertical. And so on.

Anyway, cover flow would be cool.

I’ve said what I have to say, I guess. I’ll just say this: if WriteRoom had Scrivener’s native organizational capabilities, I’d be using WriteRoom exclusively because of its GUI. And if the coders at Ulysses would ease up on their zeal for bare text WYSIWYM, requiring tagging and markers and a whole other level of knowledge about text editing, I would be using Ulysses because their organizational tools are superior. For now, I’m enjoying using Scrivener.


Firstly, I’m sorry to hear that you’re only using Scrivener because Ulysses and WriteRoom, which you prefer, don’t do exactly what you want. :frowning:

As for the page layout thing, this has been discussed in detail before, so I hope you don’t mind if I direct you to my full reply here:

literatureandlatte.com/forum … ght=layout

(Incidentally, you mention “one of the creators” of Scrivener - in fact, I’m very open about the fact - it’s on the About page - that there is only one - me - so I have to weigh up what gets developed and what doesn’t very carefully. And as I state on the About page, Scrivener was primarily designed to meet my writing needs, so it will most certainly never suit absolutely everybody, and it’s not trying to.)

Adding a basic page layout a la TextEdit or WriteRoom is simple enough from a technical point of view: that’s not the issue. The point is that it wouldn’t sit well in Scrivener because of how Scrivener has been designed - what Scrivener is for, the way it works. From the outset this is the sort of thing it wasn’t for. Even if it had a page view, it would not correspond in any way to how things actually looked on the page for the majority of users (the fact that you can use a different font for writing to printing; the fact that footnotes and comments are inline but aren’t when printed; the fact that you may have small chunks of text and big chunks of text in a single chapter, so that you would have no idea of what the final page count would be from just looking at these, and so on). Now, you might say: that’s okay, I don’t mind that. Even if it looks completely different when printed, I would be just happy with a basic page layout view just for the look of it while writing, anyway. And perhaps you would. And perhaps several other users would. But unfortunately, things don’t work like that: I know that if I introduced a “page layout view for the sake of it”, pretty soon I would be inundated with e-mails from new users demanding to know why what gets printed doesn’t look like what is on the screen; why the footnotes are inline in a page layout view; why there is no widows and orphans support; why there isn’t a header or footer… And so on. Clearly, I can’t build a page layout program as good as, say, Nisus or Mellel, into Scrivener and still have it be Scrivener, still make sure the core features are running smoothly and are updated, and still have a life with sleep in it. :slight_smile:

Ultimately, it’s a bit like asking Adobe to add a photo album creator or slideshow feature to PhotoShop: it’s not what it was designed for. I am fully aware that some users have come to rely on - and like - the page layout view in Word etc (I used to love it myself), but, as I say, Scrivener cannot be all things to all people. If a page layout view is really important to you, you might want to check out Storyist (storyist.com).

I intended to make this post short and refer just to the earlier post, but I’ve gone and explained myself all over again; I must add this to the FAQ.

All the best,

Hi Keith,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I completely understand.

And for the record, I’m using Scrivener most of the time, I’ve decided to ditch Ulysses (great organization, writing environment not so great), and I’m using WriteRoom to bang out things quickly, which I’m then shipping over to Scrivener for all of the great project manager capabilities, especially the hierarchical organization and, most especially (thank you, thank you!), the ability to associate notes with either the doc or the project. Great stuff. (Once I’ve moved the doc over to Scrivener, then I use Scrivener for editing and so on.)

I tried Storyist, and though it has some features I like, I like your organizational set up/manager better.

Carry on!


Thanks - glad the explanation made sense!
All the best,