On Scrivener: Cheat Sheet


Here are some of my favorite features + how to find them. Note: I am only familiar with the Mac version of Scrivener—I’ve heard there are some differences between the Mac and PC versions. If you’re working with the PC version, you might have to do a bit of digging to figure out the PC equivalent of these Mac shortcuts. Also, this is by no means an extensive list of Scrivener’s features! These are just the ones I use most often.

Split-screen. Click the little rectangle in the upper right corner of your document screen. You can split vertically or horizontally using: View > Layout > Split Horizontally/Split Vertically.

 The inspector column. Click the blue circle with an i in it to reveal the inspector column. The column includes a synopsis index card, a ‘general’ section where you can assign labels/statuses and other specific information, and a third section where you can choose to view project notes, document notes, keywords, snapshots, or comments/footnotes you’ve assigned. (Toggle easily between project and document notes by using Command-6 on a Mac.)

➳ Customizable labels. In the general section of the inspector column, you can customize your labels by clicking into the drop-down list and selecting edit. Double-click on the colored rectangles to choose your own color (and in the color selector, there’s a color wheel if you don’t like any of the pre-selected options). You can also customize the “Status” section, but there are no colors involved.

➳ How to color-code your binder folders/documents. After you’ve customized your labels, you’ll want to use them, of course. Right-click on any folder or document in your binder column, and you should see “Label” in your list of choices. Select it, then assign a label to it. You could also simply use the drop-down menu in the general section of the inspector. If your colors aren’t showing up in the column—or on your index card—go to View > Use Label Color In > [select all that apply]

➳ Composition mode. Click on the black icon with arrows that point diagonally—or simply go to View > Enter Composition Mode—and your document will take the spotlight, with side margins blacked out. Once in composition mode, you can make the black margins as dark or light as you want using “Background Fade” in the lower right corner. Check out the other options at the bottom of the screen, too: you can change your paper width, zoom in/out, pull up a keyword window, or pull up your document/project notes. To get out of composition mode, hit escape.

➳ Full-screen. If you have a ton of information to look at, full-screen is incredibly helpful. Click View > Enter Full Screen, and your workspace will expand. To get back out of it, use View > Exit Full Screen.

➳ Project notes/document notes. Found at the bottom of the inspector column, the project notes/document notes sections are incredibly versatile and useful. Track scene/chapter-specific notes in the document section—changes you need to make, ideas you want to write about, etc.—and big-picture notes in the project section. Toggle between these (on Mac) using Command-6.

➳ Snapshots. Snapshots are one method of saving an exact version of a scene—so useful if you’re not quite ready to commit to the changes you’re about to make. All of your snapshot options can be found under Documents > Snapshots > [choose the option that best suits your needs].

➳ Keywords. You can track pretty much anything with keywords: character appearances, issues you need to revise, etc. In the Keywords section of the inspector (found at the bottom of the inspector column—click the key icon), click the + to assign one or more keywords to a document. Later, you can pull up a list of all keywords you’ve added by going to Project > Show Project Keywords. Select which keyword you’re focusing on, click search in the bottom right, and Scrivener will pull up all scenes that have been tagged with that keyword. (To get out of the column it pulls up, so you can see your main binder list again, click the x in the bottom right of that search column.)

➳ Icons. Yet another way to label information at a glance, assign icons like stars/thought-bubbles/idea light-bulbs to the files in your binder column by right-clicking the document > Change Icon > choose.

➳ Outline mode. Found under View > Outline. Select the documents you want to appear in your outline. To customize what information you see, click the ≫ in the far right corner of the gray bar just above the outline, then check everything you need.

➳ Project targets. Set wordcount goals, and track them, using Projects > Show Project Targets. Once that window is up, click “Options” to specify which days you plan to work. You can also give yourself a deadline here. Stats automatically calculate, and you can choose when you want it to start fresh. Click “Edit” to modify your total goal number.

For the other posts in this series, check out the ‘series map’ links, above. For more information about downloading the Scrivener software itself, go here. This is not a sponsored series of posts—I simply love the product and hope to help others get as much out of it as I have.


3 thoughts on “On Scrivener: Cheat Sheet

  1. These are great tips! I’ve been using Scrivener for several years now, and I found a few new shortcuts in your list. Thanks!

  2. […] Customize your labels: I’ve labeled mine current focus (purplish blue), frontburner (pink), complete: awaiting next steps (green), partially complete: awaiting next steps (light blue), backburner (gray). […]

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