Inline Annotations and a Special Treat

Do you print out your WIP and start writing notes to yourself about researching or moving a section of the document to another area? Or commenting on a section that needs more tension?

Scrivener has a two features that allow you to mark up your manuscript with Annotations and Comments.

Inline annotations are notes that you can insert anywhere in the text. Think of them as a circled note you jotted down paper above the sentence and you use that carat mark as insertion so it’s visible when you make your revisions. It’s the same concept in Scrivener. You can use inline annotations when you want the notes to be very visible, right on the page. You can even insert images and hyperlinks directly into the annotation and later remove it when you compile your work.

To create inline annotations, position the cursor to where you want the inline annotation to start. Choose Format->Inline Annotation and type in your note.

Inline Annotation

Inline Annotation

The text appears in a red bubble. A few things you should look at: there’s a lack of spacing around the annotation. Extra spaces before or after the annotations appear in your compiled manuscript after you strip out those annotations. In other words, don’t fiddle with the spacing or it will screw it up when you compile. To add buffer space, make sure they’re in the annotation.

To turn it off, click outside the bubble to exit or return to Format-Inline Annotation. From there you can resume typing in the normal fashion.

Let’s say that you color-code your annotations. Red is for characters, blue is for changes in dialogue, green is strictly for plot changes. You can change the color of the inline annotation to follow your color code simply click inside the annotation there’s no need to select it. Choose Format->Font->Colors and pick the color you want for that note. You’ll see that both the bubble and the text change to the new color.

Changing the annotation's color

Changing the annotation’s color

If you want to convert one annotation into two or more and have them right next to each other and have one in one color and the other in another color, select the section of text, within the annotation, you want to split. Go to Format->Font->Show Colors. Select a color. Once you’re finished, close out the color window

What if you need to search for an annotation in your WIP? Easy peasy. Go to Edit->Find->Find by Formatting. In the drop-down menu of the Formatting Finder window, select Inline Annotations. Enter the string of text in the Containing text box. If you can’t remember the exact wording or the code you made up for your changes, don’t despair because you can search by color! In the Search drop-down list, select All Documents to search the entire WIP.  Make a selection from the Color drop-down menu, which provides you with three choices:

  • Any Color
  • Limit Search to Color
  • Exclude Color

Once you have all the settings the way you want, click Next and continue to do so until you reach the annotation you’ve been trying to find.

Searching for Inline Annotation

Searching for Inline Annotation

Now this is my favorite part: Need to make some changes to the annotation like adding a photo? Just drag a photo from your photo gallery in the research section or from your desktop into the bubble. I inserted a photo and this is how it looks:

Image in Inline Annotation

Image in Inline Annotation

The image can be sized by double-clicking on it a Resize window will open and you can make it as small or large as you wish. Want to delete it? Select the entire text and hit delete.

And now for a special treat…

Thanks to the generosity of Literature and Latte, I am offering a 20 percent discount on Scrivener. Just click on the affiliate link to the left of the post, and when you reach the shopping cart page, type in where it says Coupon Code: SIMPLYSCRIVENER.  It’s the perfect gift for aspiring writers, bloggers, and students who are returning to school. Hurry, it’s available for a limited time!


Scrivener Outline Course Registration is Open

Via the Colorado Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, I am teaching an outlining course in Scrivener. It’s a two-in-one course, meaning I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to create an outline, but also will be discussing structure and the elements of plotting.

The reason behind the class? It’s so you can be prepared for NANOWRIMO and not write yourself into a corner, have a sagging middle, or feel, after the 30 days of writing your daily 1,667 words, that you’ve managed vomit projectile verbiage.

To sign up for the course go to 2014 Online Workshops, scroll down and the last October class, you’ll see is the one I’m teaching. Class starts October 6th and runs through October 31st. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or you can tweet me @SimplyScrivener!

Importing Mindmaps and Inserting Images

Do you like creating mindmaps to brainstorm?  If you like to see the relationships in your WIP via circles, solid and dotted lines, Scrivener has a function that allows you to import mindmaps into your project.

For this tutorial I used the app Scapple, developed by Literature and Latte, the same folks who created Scrivener. Like Scrivener, you can give Scapple a whirl by downloading it (go to It has the same trial period as Scrivener: 30 days of actual use.

I created a fairly simple mindmap and just jotted some facts about the writer Alvah Bessie. This is how it looks like:

Alvah Bessie Mind Map

Alvah Bessie Mindmap.

I saved this as a .PNG on my desktop, and to insert it into the Editor, I could either go to File->Import->Files, and it would go under my research folder. Or I can drag the image from my desktop and insert it directly into the Editor.

The image will be large and if you double click it, a window will appear and you resize it.

Resizing Image in the Editor

Resizing Image in the Editor.

Once you’ve determined the size of the image hit OK.

But whar if you want to do more with the data from the MindMap? You can export it into your project as an Outline Markup (or .OPML) Document and import it into Scrivener. To do this, you’ll export your mindmap as .OPML to your desktop, and in Scrivener go to File->Import->Files. Select your OPML file and hit Import.

You’ll see in the Binder under Research that each Scapple note was imported as an RTF document that you can flesh out.

Imported OPML from Scapple.

Imported OPML from Scapple in Research File.

You can also save the mindmap as a plain text file and import it to the draft section of the Binder. The notes will appear as a list in the Editor with the name of the mindmap appearing in the header.

Mindmap as Text File

Mindmap as Text File.

I find when I’m stuck mindmaps help me understand the direction of where I’m going with the story. If you’re like me, and need the visual inspiration, give Scapple a whirl.


Standard and Search Collections

It took me a long time to see the value of Collections, and to be honest, it wasn’t until I wrote this tutorial and started playing around with it that I finally saw how useful the feature is during the revision process. Now that I understand how it works, I am hooked on Collections.

What is a Collection? In Scrivener it is a group of documents or files that you gather together— either manually or via a project search— so you can view and arrange them in any order you want outside the Binder. These are flat files, in other words you can switch the order, but not the hierarchy.

For example, let’s say you’ve written the scenes in your WIP out of sequence, but now you want concentrate on the ones that you’ve labeled as Fill-in the TKs. You can collect all these files and just focus on them and add that missing information. Or you can also use a collection to mix up the scene order without fiddling with the Binder order.

There are two types of collections:

• Standard Collections: This allows you to manually add and remove items in a collection. You have complete control over its contents. They are static collections.

• Saved Search Collections: If you choose the Save Search as Collection option (Save Search in Windows) from the Project Search menu, your search results are saved as a dynamic collection that includes documents only as long as they continue to meet the criteria of the collection. Search Results in of itself is a special collection and always contains the results of the most recent search.

To create a standard collection:

1. Open the Collections pane either click the Collections icon in the toolbar or go to View->Collections->Show Collections

2. Choose one of the following for selecting files to include in the collection, either manually select files in the Binder or you can run a Project Search to whittle down the files, from there select the specific files you require from the Search Results.

As you can see, collections reside in the sidebar as the Binder. I’ve created a number of collection including a search compilation of all the text files that mention Alvah Bessie; a collection of recently updated text files; a collection of text files that need work, and a collection of text files where the scenes occur in Spain.

Numerous Collections

Numerous Collections

3. To add a Collection click the plus button in the header of the Collections pane. Conversely to delete a collection, select it and then hit the minus button.

4. Name the Collection and hit enter.

If you have numerous collections, you may have to scroll to view them all. You can increase or decrease the number of visible tabs by clicking and dragging the Resize Collections Pane button on the Mac. You can also change the order of the collection by selecting and dragging it to another position. In Windows, hover on the top edge of the Collections header bar to switch the cursor to a splitter that allows you to drag the pane up or down.

Each collection is automatically assigned a color. If you want to change the color, double-click on the Color Selector (the box next to the collection’s title) that’s to the right of the collection’s name.

Changing the Color of a Collection.

Changing the Color of a Collection.

The Color Window (in this case, I chose the box of crayons) will open and then select the color you want to use for that specific collection. Windows users, double-click to open a list of options that include the More option, from which you can open the Select Color dialog box.

Once you’

ve created a collection, it performs like a subset of the Binder. You can select documents to write or revise in the Editor or view the collection in the Corkboard or Outliner.

To close a certain collection, click the X at the bottom of the pane, or you can click on another collection tab or the Binder tab.

If you forget to include a text file after you created a collection, you can add it afterwards. You can also create new items directly within the collection (on a Mac) and remove items from a collection. To add an item to a collection:

1. Select the item in the Binder.

2. Go to Documents->Add to Collection from the menu. You can also right-click the item to open the contextual menu and choose Add to Collection.

3. Select a collection from the submenu.

Adding an Item from the Binder to a Collection.

Adding an Item from the Binder to a Collection.

Changes in the order of any of the text files in the collection doesn’t affect the order of your text files in the Binder. If you like the order of files after you’ve moved them around, you can move the text files back into the Binder to preserve that order. To do this follow these steps:

1. Select the files for which you want to preserve the order.

2. Choose one of the following options:

  • Go to Documents->Move To from the menu and select a location from the submenu.
  • Mac users, drag the files to the Binder tab to open the Binder, and then drop the files into the desired folder.
  • Right-click to open the contextual menu; choose Move To and select a location from the submenu.

Saved Search Collections

Creating a Search Collection is simple and easy, and incredibly useful if you find yourself conducting the same Project search over and over again.

Search collections are created by saving the results of a Project Search so you can repeat the search as necessary. An important feature of Search Collections is that they are dynamic because they automatically update the contents of the collection every time you open it. However with a Search Collection, you can’t manually adjust the items. In other words, no adding, removing, or reordering of files.

Search collections are good for grouping items that possibly change as you revise your WIP.  To create a search collection, follow these steps:

1. Conduct a project search (I searched my WIP for anything related to Alvah)

2. Click the magnifying glass in the Search field of the toolbar and select Save Search as Collection (Save Search in Windows).

Save Search as Collection

Save Search as Collection.

You can tell the difference between a standard collections and search collections in the Collections pane by looking for the magnifying glass that appears on the left side of a search collection tab.

Saved Search Collection as Denoted by Magnifying Glass

Saved Search Collection as Denoted by Magnifying Glass

When you open a search collection in the Collections pane, the Search field in the toolbar reflects the search term of the project search that created the Collection. If you click on the magnifying glass in the Search field, you’ll see which options were selected to perform the search.

Criteria for Project Search

Criteria for Project Search.


You can lock the results of a search collection so that in no longer dynamically updates and convert it to a standard collection. To change it, simply click the tab of the collection you want to convert and go to  View->Collections->Convert to Standard Collection.

Be aware that once you’ve made the change from Search Collection to Standard Collection you can’t undo it.


Freeform and Stacked Corkboards

You already have a taste of basic features of the corkboard, but Scrivener decided to up the ante and give us more Corkboard functionality with the Freeform Corkboard (only available on the Mac) and Stacked Corkboards

Freeform Corkboard

To access the freeform corkboard, click on the icon that looks like stacked cards at the bottom of the corkboard. You can arrange the cards in any order that you like. You’ll notice that however the order is changed, the order of the folders in the binder remain the same. If you want to change the size of the cards, click on the icon to the right of the stacked card icon and from there window will open and you can fiddle with the size.

I tend to use the Freeform Corkboard to groups images into themes or concepts so I can visualize them better. Here’s an example:

Freeform C

Freeform Corkboard

Once you’ve determined how you want to order the cards, click on the Commit Order at the bottom of the corkboard and a window will open that provides options for how the program interprets your layout.

Freeform Corkboard Commit Order

Freeform Corkboard Commit Order

Under “Start At” click whichever option is appropriate (I chose “Left” and “Top to Bottom”). Once you hit Okay, you’ll see the documents in your binder reordered.

If you don’t like the default corkboard background or the font, you can change that to suit your sense of aesthetics. To make the change go to the file menu click on “Scrivener” scroll down to “Preferences” and select the corkboard icon.

You can customize the color or pattern by going to the “Freeform Background” select “Custom Color” or “Custom Background.” If you select Custom Color the box of crayons will pop up or you can play with the color wheel option. For Custom Background, you can select any photo that you have on file on your Mac. I chose a color from the color wheel. And now my Freeform Corkboard looks like this:

Freeform Corkboard with Blue Background.

Freeform Corkboard with Blue Background

Stacked Corkboards

The purpose of a stacked corkboard is to view more than one corkboard at time. They’re useful when you want to see the contents of more than one container like a number of chapters or parts in a manuscript.

I think Stacked Corkboards are ideal, for example, if you’ve planned an editorial calendar for a newsletter, a blog, or a magazine. For instance, let’s say that I’ve planned ahead articles for every two weeks, but now I want to see them in their respective corkboards and fiddle around with them. You can do this because in this feature you can move around the cards from one board to another. So if I want to move a planned article from one month to another, I can easily drag them to that corkboard. An important factor to note—stacked corkboards are only available in linear mode. If you’re using the Freeform Corkboard, and you make your folder selections, it automatically defaults to linear.

To activate the Stacked Corkboard function, you can select more than one folder using Cmd-click for Mac; ctrl-click for Windows. Each corkboard is displayed with a divider in between them and they’re shaded differently. At the footer on the right hand side, you can select the card arrangement in either rows, columns or wrapped. I prefer the wrap cards format:

Stacked Corkboards

Stacked Corkboards

If you want, you can also number the cards in each corkboard. Go to View->Corkboard Options->Number Per Section. If you decide that you want to add another article for one of the months selected without leaving the corkboard, just hit the Add button in the tool bar.

The Scratch Pad

Let’s assume you’re on Twitter or Facebook, or just surfing the net when you discover something that might be a good source for you WIP, or maybe you’ve read something that you want to copy and paste, or a thought occurred to you while you were working on something else. Typically for random notes of this nature you have a small notepad beside you so you can jot them down. It’s a scratch pad that goes with you everywhere.

Scrivener has a built-in Scratch Pad, and it’s an ingenious one because you can keep it open all the time-even when your project isn’t open—as long as Scrivener is running. To open the Scratch Pad go to Window->Show Scratch Pad (in Windows, Tools->Scratch Pad or Ctrl+Shift+0) or on the Mac you can open it from the Scrivener icon on the dock by right clicking when Scrivener is minimized. Once selected, a window will appear and floats above all other applications, making it a virtual scratch pad.

Scratch Pad Window

Scratch Pad Window

New notes can be added by clicking on the plus sign at the bottom of the window on the lower left-hand side. To delete just hit the circle with the bar icon.

Scratch Pad Window’s Components

Scratch Pad Window’s Components

To send a note to your project, select it from the list, click on the Send to Project drown down menu at the bottom of the window (In Scrivener for Windows it’s Send File) and then choose where it goes from your open project.

 Scratch Pad’s Send To Feature

Scratch Pad’s Send To Feature

In the Window’s version you have the option, via the actions menu (gear wheel) at the bottom of the window, to make the scratch pad transparent so it doesn’t interfere while you’re working in other programs. In fact, the Windows version has a couple features that the Mac doesn’t. You can split the scratch pad vertically or horizontally. Plus at the bottom of the window, there’s a hand icon which allows you to take a screen shot and save it into the current notepad. What you’ll see is a preview of the screen, which you can save and close,  but you also have the option to grab the area with the mouse for a specific area that you want to capture. Another feature within the feature is to Print Screen which takes a screenshot of the whole screen, but will give you a pre-determined time (that you can set) to arrange the screen the way you want it to look.