Getting Familiar with Scrivener’s Interface and Workspace

Once you’ve created a project, the next step is to get familiar with Scrivener’s interface. In this tutorial, we’ll review the menu and tool bars, the Binder, Editor, and Inspector.

The menu bar runs across the top of the window. Each menu has its set of commands and sub-menus.

Scrivener Menu Bar

Scrivener Menu Bar

Below the Menu bar is the Toolbar. On top, dead center is the project name and directly below is a row of pretty and colorful icons. These default icons are the ones most commonly used. Hover your mouse pointer over an icon and a small yellow text box appears describing the icon’s function.

Tool Bar

Scrivener Tool Bar

One of the many neat functions of Scrivener is that you can customize them. To change the Toolbar go to View->Customize Toolbar. A new window will open and you’ll be able to switchout the buttons by dragging them into the default toolbar, or directly to the tool bar. You can also turn on and off the text below the icons and make them smaller.

Icons to Customize Toolbar

Icons to Customize Toolbar

The Binder’s function is similar to the Finder or Windows Explorer. This is where all your folders and text documents are located in an easy-to-find manner. This area is solely for text documents. Beneath the Draft icon, you’ll create and file all your documents. I like to think of the Binder as an actual three-ring binder where I’ll have my dividers (folders) for each scene or chapter and the loose-leaf paper (text documents) neatly kept. And just like a three-ring binder, I can move and arrange my documents in any type of order.

Within the Binder is the Research folder where I can store more than text files. Here I can import website pages, PDFs, photos, and even .wav and MP4 files. I can create sub-folders for brainstorming, mind-mapping, characters, locations, and any specific topic that is relevant to my current project. Like the Draft section, I can move folders around and arrange them in any way I like. Finally, right below is the iconic rubbish bin where I can trash whatever I don’t find necessary.

Scrivener's Binder

Scrivener’s Binder

Right clunk in the center is the area that is called the Editor. This is where you’ll be doing the majority of your writing. Like a word processor, the Editor has it’s own formatting toolbar. If you want a ruler as a guide, go to the menu bar and select Format-> Show Ruler. To hide it, follow the same steps, but this time the command will say Hide Ruler.

The Editor and its Formatting Tool bar

The Editor and its Formatting Tool bar

Within this area, you’ll discover that you can have different views: the Corkboard and index cards, Scrivnings (when multiple files are selected) and the Outliner.

To the right of the Editor is the Inspector. This section displays the nitty-gritty information of your work, also known as metadata. The Inspector displays the Synopsis, a section where you can type a brief summary of your scene, you can insert an image, or anything that describes the chapter or scene. The middle area called General allows to add or edit custom names for both the label and status. For example, for Label, if you’re writing a novel with multiple points of view, you might want to assign each chapter with a different POV and color code it, which will be reflected in the Binder, Corkboard, and Outliner. The last third portion of the Inspector, Doucument Notes, is another section where you can write notes, brainstorm, or paste notes from elsewhere.

The three Faces of the Inspector: Synopsis; Meta-Data, and Notes

The three Faces of the Inspector: Synopsis; General, and Notes

Each of these sections can be customized. The next tutorial will focus in getting your workspace to accomodate the way you write.

  4 comments for “Getting Familiar with Scrivener’s Interface and Workspace

  1. RonEstrada
    December 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Great post, Rebeca. I like how you’re doing this. I didn’t know about the customizable toolbar! I like to label my scenes with the POV character as well. They each get a color code that matches the hard copy cards I start out with. I also like to use the tags at the bottom of the inspector. I create a tag for each character in that scene as well as the location (or setting). That way, if I ever have to check for continuity of a character, it’s easy. If I decide to eliminate a character, the tags make it a helluva lot easier than the search and destroy method!

  2. December 3, 2013 at 9:55 am

    RonEstrada Thanks so much! I’ll be getting into the color coding and tags probably in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more “unknowns” but learn from others as well!

  3. Mel Corbett
    December 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Thanks Rebeca. I may have known about the customizing the toolbar when I first started using scrivener because my toolbar wasn’t the standard, but if I did, I completely forgot about it when I came back to school and added some different needs to my writing. Added in the table icon and some other stuff that might help me more with writing for school.

  4. December 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Mel Corbett I love all the customization you can do on Scrivener and make it your “own.” When I had the beta of the Windows version, I played around with customizing the tool bar, and later with the mac version changed all the background colors and label fonts, but I went back to the original. Thank goodness for the default button. Sometimes it’s just best to leave things alone 🙂

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