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

4 thoughts on “6 Ways to Set Up Scrivener for Writing”

    1. Yes, Ronnie, you can use keyboard shortcuts using the Substitutions feature in Scrivener. Here’s how:

      1. Go to Tool, Options, Corrections and check the box that says Enable Additional substitutions.
      2. Once enabled (you only have to do this once), click on the Add Substitutions button and scroll to the bottom of the list of entries and add your entries.

      Example: When I want to remind myself to insert picture at a certain point in an article, I use the substitution dot (.) ip. Scrivener types “Insert picture” for me.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  1. Thanks for the article C.K. I’ve not reset the default font (at least for that .scriv file – not sure if it carries over to others).

    Do you have any thoughts on whether there’s a way to add the “Edit ->Link…” option to the toolbar. I use Scrivener files for each of my larger clients and do a lot of research for reference or for citing later.

    Thanks in advance if you’ve got an idea. I probably should read or search that .pdf you mentioned. I’m sure it’s in bold there. 😉

    1. Tammy,
      Yes! I’d be in favour of a one-click option instead of a two-click option.
      To add features to the toolbar in Scrivener for Windows, go to Tools, Customize Toolbars. Now, when I do that, there doesn’t appear to be an option for a link button in the list of options given. That may or may not be true for Scrivener for Mac. For me, though, it’s one more wish to add to my Scrivener for PC Wish List. Feel free to add your wish to the interactive doc on this page.

      Thanks for getting in touch!

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