Scrivener Tip – Customizing Scrivener

Here’s a tutorial on customizing Scrivener.

This training is provided by Literature & Latte, creators of Scrivener.

Transcript: As writers ourselves, we’re aware of how important it is to be comfortable in your writing environment.

So Scrivener provides all sorts of ways you can customize how it looks and behaves, letting you adapt the Scrivener environment to better fit the way you work.

We’ll start by looking at options, which can be found in the File menu or opened using the F12 key.

You’ll find different categories of preferences here, starting with the general preferences, where you can adjust startup settings, such as whether Scrivener reopens projects that will open when you last quit, how often Scrivener auto-saves, the interface language, and so forth.

There’s also an author information tab, where you can enter details which will then autofill on some elements of your manuscripts like title pages.

If any of your projects have a bibliography, you can also link your preferred citation software from here.

The next pane controls your editing preferences and is split into four tabs; editing, formatting, notes, and revisions.

We’ll cover formatting preferences in a whole separate guide.

Notes controls the appearance of your notes, comments, footnotes, and inline annotations.

Revisions allows you to set the colors used by revision mode, a feature of Scrivener intended for when you’re revising a manuscript.

The editing tab controls the default editor settings. Things like the default zoom level and the units of measurement used by the ruler.

There are checkboxes which control elements like typewriter scrolling, whether your live count shows words, characters, or a combination, and options that let you switch the insertion point from a thin line to a chunkier block.

Let’s also take a quick look at the corrections pane. This is where you can set up spell checking options, smart punctuation, auto-completion, and a few other settings. There’s an option to stop Scrivener from automatically capitalizing the letter “I” for languages that don’t use it as a personal pronoun.

In the substitutions tab, you can also enable additional substitutions which will auto-replace common symbols and fractions with the corresponding Unicode characters when you type them out in your editor.

The appearance pane is where your preferences really start to open out.

As you might expect, this is where you can customize the appearance of different elements of Scrivener by selecting them from this list on the left.

You’ll find many of these have unique options, as well as the ability to change background colors, font, and text, for different sections of the interface.

Let’s take a look at the binder as an example. I can set a custom row spacing for binder items here in this tab. Navigating through the fonts menu, I’ve changed the font used by the binder to Palatino but you could easily choose another font like Courier for readability or just to match the atmosphere of your project.

If you make too many changes and you want to restore the defaults at any point, click manage, and you’ll find the default theme saved here, along with a few other preset themes.

Moving to the colors tab, you can set background colors and text colors for the many different elements of Scrivener here.

Bear in mind that affecting one may not affect the other, so if you change your editors’ background to a very dark color, the font won’t automatically become brighter, you will need to adjust that separately. But, if you prefer to look at light text on a dark background, to reduce screen glare, that is something you can set up here in the appearances pane. You can revert to the default colors anytime by clicking on the elements you want to change and clicking “use default color”.

Another example we’ll touch on is the corkboard appearance settings, which have a number of options for the corkboard display.

These options allow you to set a different background for snapped corkboards, freeform corkboards, and label view.

And the drop-down list will let you set a corkboard texture or even a custom background image for one or all of these.

It’s worth taking a look for the appearance pane yourself if you’re the type of writer who likes to customize how their writing environment looks.

The behaviors pane allows you to fine-tune how some of the elements of Scrivener work, focusing on navigation, the corkboard composition mode, and how Scrivener handles media files.

The composition settings are worth noting if you have more than one monitor, as you can control where your manuscript appears in composition mode.

In the corkboard settings, you can choose whether double-clicking on an empty space navigates you to the parent corkboard or creates a new index card.

Navigation has some useful settings for return key behavior, how Scrivener handles folders and files, whether you can alt-drag a file to duplicate it, and where internal links will open when clicked.

The sharing pane has a few settings related to importing and exporting projects.

You might need to tweak some of the import settings if, for example, you’re importing documents from Word. But most of these can probably be left out there default. The backup pane is covered in a separate video which should be linked nearby.

Outside of your preferences, there are still some other ways to customize the Scrivener environment.

There’s a View button in the toolbar which can show and hide the binder, ruler, and format bar, as well as switching to page view.

These functions are also available from the View menu along with a handful of other options, including the ability to customize toolbars.

Selecting this will open a window which lets you customize both the format bar and the main toolbar.

Select which one you want to customize from the choices in the top right, then you will see a list of what’s currently in the toolbar on the right and all the available options on the left.

Selecting an item in either column you can use these arrow buttons to add, remove, or reorder toolbar items.

For example, if you want to take regular snapshots of your work, adding the snapshot button to the main toolbar could make that feature more easily accessible.

If you want to reset to the default toolbar at any point, just click this button labeled “restore defaults”.

Sometimes, you might want to customize elements just for this project, but not for Scrivener as a whole.

For this, turn to Project Settings in the Project menu. Here you can set up project metadata and create custom labels and status items.

Some of this will be covered in more detail in separate videos, but it’s worth taking a look at here and now. For example, the label list can be customized to keep track of point-of-view characters within your novel.

We’ll change the custom title for labels to POV and then assign labels to each character, depending on who that chapter centers on.

You can do the same with status and even set a default label or status for new documents, so each new document can be marked to do as soon as it’s created.

As you can see, the range of customization options Scrivener offers is very broad, and we recommend doing some exploring of your own.

In the meantime, you can visit our other guides, video tutorials, and the Scrivener user manual if you’d like to learn more about the features of Scrivener.

Thanks for watching, and happy writing.