Literature & Latte

Who Uses Scrivener?


Scrivener was initially designed for novel-writing and so it’s unsurprising that many of its users are novelists (as evidenced on our Testimonials page). Break the manuscript down into chapters or scenes and navigate between them easily using Scrivener’s binder. Import background research, images and notes. Use the corkboard and outliner to work out the best structure before, after or while you write the draft. Annotate or highlight text that needs revising, track characters and subplots using labels and keywords, work out the B-story using project notes, or just blot out all distractions and write. At its most simple, Scrivener is just a stack of paper with a virtual ring-binder that allows you to locate and switch between the different components of your manuscript with ease. And when you’ve finished—or at least when you decide to stop revising and call your novel complete—you can compile for printing in standard manuscript format or exporting to other programs. Or you can self-publish by exporting to an e-book format. No wonder Scrivener has been adopted by bestselling and aspiring novelists alike.


“Creating a television show is all about chaos. It doesn’t matter how diligent your planning might be, things change in the writing — new connections wait to be discovered and assimilated, accelerating stories in new, more exciting directions. There are outlines, step-outlines and treatments to be written and re-written. There are producer’s notes, director’s notes, production notes. A million and one things can change; two million and five things actually do. A television show is alive, and it’s hungry. I continue to submit my scripts in Final Draft. But all the work that gets done leading up to that submission — all the outlining, the brainstorming, the researching, the writing, the revising, the creation of structure from chaos — that gets done in Scrivener, the best writer’s application in the world.”
—Neil Cross, creator and writer of the BBC series Luther (starring The Wire’s Idris Elba).

While Scrivener is not a replacement for industry-standard screenplay software such as Final Draft, its familiar scriptwriting features can help with planning, structuring and formatting a script. Split the editor and create both A and B stories side by side; mix up script formatting with normal text to write treatments; use inspector comments to keep track of production details right alongside the script. And because Scrivener allows you to view different documents alongside one another, it’s easy to work on adaptations by having your source material open in one pane as you write your script in the other. Scrivener comes with templates for comic book scripts, screenplays and stage plays, and when you’re done you can export your script to a dedicated scriptwriting program such as Final Draft. Scrivener has been used to write scripts in all sorts of mediums, including stage plays, comic books, video games such as Dead Space, documentaries, and Hollywood and BBC TV series.

Academics and Students

While traditional word processors effectively penalise experimentation by treating all writing as though it is as simple and linear as composing a letter or memo, Scrivener’s feature-set encourages you to find the best structure for your arguments and ideas. Used for writing essays, research papers, dissertations, textbooks, and even planning whole courses, Scrivener is useful for academics at all stages of their careers. Refer to information from online journals, PDF documents or media files as you write; arrange and rearrange your thesis in the outliner or on the corkboard; work with editable typset equations with MathType; use Project Statistics to check word, character, and page counts; create footnotes, endnotes and annotations as you write; and choose from several common essay format templates such as APA and MLA to help format your work for submission.


Just as there are many ways to tell a story, there are many ways to form an argument. Scrivener is ideal for drawing together and referring to research such as journal materials, previous case reports and client interviews, then using their contents to write, structure and restructure a brief until it’s the best it can be. Use the outliner to structure a motion; create a file template for jury instructions or contracts. Tag documents involving a particular statute, witness or location. And if new evidence or precedents come to light, just revisit the relevant sections, edit and move on.


Be it news or features, behind every story lies a mass of references and research. Scrivener’s many tools can help manage this while you create your copy, and store a record of sources for easy future reference. Split the editor to transcribe digitally recorded interviews or view video footage or notes while writing, without the need to flick between applications. Making a major edit to your own or someone else’s work? Take snapshots and compare revisions to see which one works best. Keep notes of sources and references alongside the text they’ve inspired, allowing you to answer sub-editors' queries with ease.


Because Scrivener allows you to view different documents alongside one another, translators can view their source material in one editor while working on the translation in the other pane. Break up the work into manageable sections, make notes on difficult phrases and call up research and additional material in QuickReference panels—everything you need is readily at hand.


Do you have a unique way of using Scrivener that you would like to share with others? Send us an e-mail and tell us how you’ve made Scrivener your home.