Scrivener Top Tip

I’ve been a bit quite these last couple of weeks, because I’ve been head down, turning forty thousand words of so-called “Literature Review” into twenty thousand words that I might be willing to actually share with my supervisors. That was completed last Sunday, so I’m back in the land of the living. On Sunday, I wrestled with Word, EndNote and Scrivener to format my citations and learned this very useful top-tip – use Word as little as possible!

I love Scrivener. For those who’ve not heard of it, its an excellent tool for long-form writing. Designed to be useful and flexible enough for anybody writing novels, scripts, theses, dissertations – it has a bit of learning curve in setting it up to be most useful for your workflow, but all sorts of functionality. So you can bung all sorts of stuff into your “research” folder – pdfs, webpages, pictures etc., write passages as and when the whim takes you, then organise (or re-organise) those passages without having to cut and paste chunks of text. It works well with EndNote, so when you want to make a citation to just flip over to EndNote, select and copy the reference you want, then, back in Scivener, paste a simple, editable tag into the text.

What Scrivener isn’t designed to do is final layout, so when you have all your passages in the right order, to can “compile” them into a single text file for your layout engine of choice. The University have a Word template they like us to use, so the first time round on Sunday, I compiled it into a Word file. I thought it would be best to let Word turn all those EndNote tags into a bibliography. Boy was I wrong. Long story short, Word did put all the references at the bottom of the document, dreadfully formatted – centered, and not in any academic style I’ve ever encountered. But worse than that, it deleted all the citation tags! And it wasn’t an undoable action.

Luckily of course, the original was still safe in Scrivener, so I recompiled, this time into RTF, then used EndNote itself to turn the tags into nicely Harvard formated citations and add the the bibliography.  And very nice it looks too. Then of course I could save the RTF as a Word file.

So, that’s my top-tip: Format your text styles in Scrivener, compile into RTF, use EndNote to format the references, and then (and only then) save as a Word file.


4 thoughts on “Scrivener Top Tip

  1. There are some nvivo parallels – worth having a look at that too, particularly for marking up and analysing multimedia. I also wondered about this post in the context of your twine work – have you considered comparing how you write and read in these two systems, and in wordpress?

    1. Funnily enough, I was thinking about how Scrivener might be a useful tool for writing Twine content. For my Heritage Jam Twine, I went old school – index cards on the dining room table. But the index card metaphors is one of Scrivener’s functions.

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