Using Labels in Scrivener

3749662498_7c29433b82_z by C.K. MacLeod


A book in progress can be an unwieldy beast, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of all the parts and the status of each part.

Scrivener’s labels can help you to get your head around your writing project.

You can colour code each chapter of your book to determine where you are with that chapter. For example, here are the colours I used for a book I’m writing:

  • Yellow—Notes
  • Blue—First draft
  • Turquoise—Revised draft
  • Pink—Final draft

After I work on a chapter, I assign it a label so that the next time I open Scrivener, I can tell, at a glance, which chapters need attention and what kind of attention they need.

Assign coloured labels to files in Scrivener
Assign coloured labels to files in Scrivener

Here’s how you can apply labels to your writing project in Scrivener:

Labels in Scrivener Quick Steps

  1. Adjust your settings in Scrivener. Go to View, Use Label Color In, and select Binder. This will ensure that colour is applied not just to your cue cards, but in your Binder as well.
  2. Click on a file in Scrivener’s Binder. That’s the file the label will be added to.
  3. Open the Inspector Pane by clicking on the i button in the top right.
  4. Click on the triangle in the General Meta-Data area.
  5. Click on the down arrow in the Label area.
  6. Add an existing label to your Scrivener file, or create a new label by clicking on Edit, Label tab+button. To change a label’s colour, click on the coloured box next to the label and choose a new colour.

Add colour to your book’s chapters, so you can quickly tell what kind of attention those chapters need.

Image by albastrica mititica

Convert a Table to Text in Word


by C.K. MacLeod


When you’re writing nonfiction, you often need to think about how best to present information—as a bulleted or numbered list, in a table, as a diagram, in a paragraph, and so forth. Your options are many.

Recently, I wanted to convert a two-column table to a single-column bulleted list in Word without having to re-key the whole thing. Here’s how you can do that quickly in Microsoft Word 2010:

Table-to-Text Quick Steps

  1. Select the table. This will bring up the Table Tools tab in Word. Click on the Layout tab.
Table Tools in MS Word
Table Tools in MS Word
  1. Click on the Convert to Text button in the Data area. A dialogue box will ask you to choose what separators you want to use. I chose the hyphen but you can choose a comma, too. It doesn’t matter because you’re going to remove the separator, anyway.
Convert Table to Text dialogue
Convert Table to Text dialogue
  1. You now have a list with hyphens between your two “columns” of words. To get rid of the hyphens, and put everything into a single column, use Word’s Find and Replace function to remove the hyphens and put a hard return between list items. Put a hyphen in the Find What box and put the paragraph code ^p (to indicated a hard return) in the Replace With box:
Remove hyphens and hard returns with Word's Find and Replace
Remove hyphens and hard returns with Word’s Find and Replace

And that’s it! You turned a table into a single-column list in a few short moves.

Image by Sid Mosdell

Hunt Down Adverbs with a Macro

by C.K. MacLeod

…the road to hell is paved with adverbs and I will shout it from the rooftops.

~Steven King


Do you use -ly words in your writing? Do you use them with the dialogue tags he said and she said?

Example: “Who do you think you are?” she said arrogantly.

According to author Steven King, using adverbs in your writing, particularly with dialogue tags, can be a problem.

You can hunt down -ly adverbs with a macro. Karen Woodward has good multipurpose -ly macro, or you can insert your own list of -ly words in the macro script below (I’ve gotten you started). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists, by Edward Bernard Fry et al. has a fabulous list of adverbs commonly used with dialogue tags.

Copy the macro from Sub to End Sub and paste it into Word’s Visual Basic Application (VBA). Word will highlight all of the adverbs in bright green.

Sub lyWords()

‘ Highlights -ly words used in tags

‘ Written by Roger Mortis, revised by Subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod

Dim range As range
Dim i As Long
Dim TargetList
TargetList = Array( “angrily”, “cautiously”, “happily”, “sadly”,  “unhappily”)

For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)

Set range = ActiveDocument.range
With range.Find
.Text = TargetList(i)
.Format = True
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = True
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
range.HighlightColorIndex = wdBrightGreen
End With
End Sub

Remember to use judgement with the results of any macro. This macro will highlight -ly words, but only you can decide if each word is helping or hindering your writing.

Not sure what a macro is? See this post for an explanation. See also the videos for adding a macro and running a macro in Microsoft Word 2010.

What do you do with the highlighted words this macro finds? See Carla Douglas’ post at the Beyond Paper Editing blog for suggestions.

Image by Quinn Dombrowski