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by | Feb 12, 2016 | Tools | 6 comments

Scrivener has long been a favorite drafting tool for Mac users. Recent updates brought this magic of this program to the world of Windows users.

With a unique approach to organizing text and research, integration support with a variety of other applications and native support for exporting MOBI and ePub files, this program is a powerhouse of self-publishing.

However, its flexible interface and design makes it useful for more than just bringing your literary dreams to life. With a little set up and tweaking, Scrivener can be used for more than just writing.

Here is how I’m using Scrivener at Family Freelancer HQ. 

Scrivener Basics

At its heart, Scrivener is like a digital three-ring binder. 

You have a text input interface, a tool bar and some powerful features. Get under the hood and look around a bit and you will realize that Scrivener is much much more.

I personally recommend the interactive tutorial bundled with the software. It will give you a great grasp of everything the program can do.

Features of Scrivener include:

  • Corkboard: This handy feature lets you organize your thoughts and documents on a collection of digital index cards. Colored markers indicate their status in the workflow and a multilevel design makes it easy to drill down through your various pieces of content.
  • Scrivenings: This mode allows you to connect and edit multiple documents in a single sequence. Instead of bouncing back and forth between multiple windows or tabs, each document is presented end to end with a simple page break indicator. This makes it easy to see how pieces of your writing relate to one another and without juggling multiple files in separate windows.
  • Multipane editor: The multipane editor allows you to open more than one document in separate windows. You can even open the same document in more than window to easily check on previous parts of an article or story while continuing to write.
  • Comprehensive indexing: From keywords and labels to the actual text, every document is indexed from start to finish to help you find your characters, topics and other aspects of your writing with ease. You can also save frequent searches for easy access throughout your project.
  • Snapshots: With Scrivener there is no need to keep multiple copies around when making a significant change. With built in revision management, all you have to do is hit the snapshot button. Should you wish to revert to the original text, just rollback and start again.
  • Full Screen Text Editing: Eliminate distractions and get more done with a highly configurable full screen text editor. You can set page colors, font colors, opacity, page width and more with a few clicks of the mouse. This makes it simple to create the perfect environment for getting things done.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Every time I load this program, I am discovering new uses for it.

While it might seem a little daunting at first, the included tutorial does an exceptional job of explaining both basic and advanced features of the Scrivener software.

Scrivener as a Project Management Suite

As a freelancer, the bulk of my income comes from writing. One of my biggest frustrations with my work is having to juggle multiple programs and windows to keep track of the information important to me.

As I was using Scrivener, I realized that I could utilize the framework offered by the program to help streamline my work process and keep track of things easily. I loaded up a blank template and got to work tweaking settings. In about 15 minutes, I had a project management solution that helped to eliminate a large portion of the little nuances that I cataloged and recorded.

My Scrivener Project Management Solution

By default Scrivener supports label and status tags for every text created. The label color and status text is shown on the corkboard. This makes it easy to visually sift through your orders and find something quickly.

By adapting these labels, I created a quick and simple two-field categorization system for my current orders.

Labels include:

  • To Do
  • In Progress
  • Completed
  • Submitted
  • Paid

Statuses include:

  • Needs Submission
  • Needs Recording
  • Needs Client Follow Up
  • Complete

With these two sets tags, I can cut down on a large portion of clutter in my tracking spreadsheets and documents. I can also glance at my corkboard and know where any order in my queue stands.

All that was left was making individual folders for each client and populating my current orders.

I’ve currently been using this system for a couple years and I love it.

Instead of bouncing between three or four programs to complete an order, I can complete 90% of an order within Scrivener. What is left is easily tracked at the end of the day and can be done in bulk in just a few minutes.

This is a major time saver for me.

I personally try to keep my tools and applications free when possible. As a freelancer, if you try every tool you run across on the Internet, you could quickly find yourself spending thousands of dollars.

While it’s not free, I highly recommend Scrivener for any freelance writer out there. I also recommend it for anyone that wants to keep track of data and have a freedom of organization that typical word processing interfaces do not offer.

Fortunately, Scrivener offers a 30-day trial on their site. Better still, the trial only counts down on days you actually launch the program so it’s easy to squeeze plenty of work in and get a good feel for the software before the time runs out.

Should you decide you like the program, it is only $40 for a regular license.

You can find more information on Scrivener on the Official Literature and Latte website.

Do you use Scrivener for you freelance business? What are some of your favorite features? Do you have an outside the box use for Scrivener? Have a tool that you prefer over Scrivener? I want to hear about it! Just leave me a comment in the boxes below!

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About The Author

Jon Stone

As a full-time stay-at-home dad of a two spunky kids--2 and 9 years old--Jon Stone spends what little time he can form coherent thoughts working as a content marketing specialist and copywriter. He loves coffee, fantasy novels and Minecraft. Sometimes, if he's super lucky, he reads the back of his own eyelids. Most times, he's just busy scribbling notes like a madman or playing with his kids.


  1. Steven

    I like all of the features available with Scrivener, but it definitely has a learning curve that many could find annoying. I keep finding myself tinkering around with settings and trying to figure out where features are instead of writing. At this point it is more of a distraction than a tool for me. Over time I am hoping this will change allowing me to use it to its full potential.

    • Jon Stone

      When I first opened Scrivener, I was somewhat baffled by what appeared on the screen. I think that taking the hour or so to go through the interactive tutorial really helps to give you a decent grasp of what the program has to offer. Even after following it, there are still plenty of little jewels to discover. However, it at least gets you accustomed to the interface. I think the real power lies in customizing the framework to your needs. I probably do not use some of the most powerful features, such as Scrivening mode, nearly as much as I use custom labels and organizational tools. At least on my article writing and content creation. My novel that I am working on is another story. But with the way that projects are managed, it is simple enough to keep things the way you want for each project!

  2. Angelique

    Nice post! I use Scrivener in a similar way to keep track of my own articles, as well as articles that I’m going to share on my social networks. I like to identify the articles by image.

    • Jon Stone

      The image preview functions are another great way to sort the data if you work frequently with them. Some of my work involves images in post, others do not. That is the great thing about Scrivener though! You can mold it to fit your needs!

  3. sally

    Love this concept and would very much like to adapt it for my project tracking.

    So far with Scrivener, I’ve drafted long form technical documents and blog posts in Markdown but have never created labels or status text – where in the Scrivener menus do you set that up?

    Great idea, Jon – thanks for sharing!

    • Jon Stone

      It is actually pretty easy. Just right click anything in your binder and go to the label and status sections, there is an edit button at the bottom. Set them how you like them! I use label for my progress and status for any after writing steps that might be needed. I find that it makes it easy to browse the cork board with them set as such. Thanks for the comment!



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