6 Ways to Set Up Scrivener for Writing

Out of the boxby C.K MacLeod

Out of the box, Scrivener comes with features turned off or on. Some of these features are helpful, but others drive me crazy and prevent me from being efficient.

You can customize Scrivener to work with your writing preferences. Below are six things I do to write more efficiently in Scrivener.

Note: I write mostly nonfiction. If you write fiction, tweak your settings to support your writing preferences.

1. Remove or change automatic paragraph indenting.

Go to Tools, Options, Editor, and move the tab slider to the left.

Tab slider Scrivener

2. Turn off automatic capitalization and autocompletion.

I find it distracting when a word processor automatically capitalizes words, or tries to guess and complete words for me. To turn off these features, go to Tools, Options, Corrections, and uncheck Fix capitalization of sentences and Suggest completions as you type.

Turn off autocompletion and capitalization

3. Change the font type and size.

I like to work in Times New Roman. Boring, but effective (it has a complete character set for special symbols. Go to Tools, Options, Editor, and click on the blue A button in the top left.

Change font Scrivener

4. Add a keyboard shortcut for a word or phrase you don’t want to keep retyping. I use .ip to indicate a placeholder for inserting a picture later.

Go to Tools, Options, Corrections, check the Enable Substitutions box, and click on Edit Substitutions. Click on the plus button to add your keyboard shortcut.

Substitutions shortcuts Scrivener

5. Select your dictionary.
I am a Canadian, so I like my dictionary to remind me to spell colour and honour with a "u." Go to Tools, Options, Corrections, select your dictionary, click OK, and then click Apply.

If you don’t see your dictionary in the list of options, click the Download button to see if there’s one available.

6. Customize the toolbar.
Go to Tools, Customize toolbars and add or remove toolbar buttons. Here are the buttons like like to add:

  • Show Invisibles
  • Inline Annotation
  • Comment buttons

You can also rearrange the order of the buttons by clicking on the down and up arrows.
You don’t need to tolerate the out-of-the-box version of Scrivener.  Set up Scrivener so it better matches your way of working.

Image by Kool Cats Photography

Most Popular Writing Tech Posts of 2015

Top 10by C.K. MacLeod

Here are the top 10 Posts on Tech Tools for Writers in 2015.

  1. Hemingway Editor: A Proofreading Tool for Writers
  2. Self-Editing Tools
  3. Retrieving a Back-Up File in Scrivener
  4. How to Create a Keyboard Shortcut for the Snipping Tool
  5. 20-Minute Macro Course
  6. Improve Your Writing with Macros
  7. A 5-Minute Guide to Evernote
  8. 5 Ways to Create an Em Dash
  9. Proofreading Tool: PerfectIt Pro
  10. Consistency Checker: A Free Proofreading Tool

Which tool will you try in 2016? Which tool would you like me to write about?

Stay posted for more exciting writing and editing tools in 2016.

Image by Sam Churchill.

How to Create a Keyboard Shortcut for the Snipping Tool


by C.K. MacLeod

I'm trying to use my mouse less and my keyboard more. Why? Keyboard shortcuts can

  • reduce repetitive strain injury from too much mousing
  • help you to complete writing and editing tasks more efficiently

Save Time

Hilary Powers, in her excellent book, Making Word 2010 Work for You, has pointed out that it often takes less time to execute a keyboard shortcut than it takes for your hand to wander to your mouse, click through a menu in a word processing program or in Windows Explorer, and wander back to the keyboard. She has a point. Why leave the keyboard, if you don't have to?

Create Your Own Shortcuts

In this post, I'll describe the steps for creating your own keyboard shortcut for the Windows Snipping Tool—a handy application for taking screenshots while writing and blogging.

It's a multi-step process to find the Snipping Tool with Windows Explorer. Instead, I've assigned the Snipping Tool the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + K so that I can open it in seconds.

Quick Steps

  1. Find the Snipping Tool application in Windows Explorer by going to the Start menu and keying in "Snipping." The Snipping Tool should show up in the Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the application name (Snipping Tool) and click on Properties.
  3. Next to Shortcut key: insert the key combinations you want to use to open that application. I've used Ctrl + Alt + K because the that key combination isn't already being used for another action* and because the K reminds me of a pair of scissors left open on a table.
  4. Click Okay, and try your your new shortcut.

Once you integrate them into your workflow, keyboard shortcuts can save you time. What other writing-related applications could you assign a keyboard shortcut to?

*Note: Some key combinations are already assigned functions in Windows 7. Windows will let you know if you choose a combination that's already taken.

Image by James Bowe