Wish-lists: Scrivener for Thesis Writing

Scrivener Wish List 2016.jpg

I’m getting ready for a year of blogging Scrivener for Thesis Writing and have a good stock of Scrivener for Thesis Writing posts in the pipeline.

But I’m also wondering for those already writing your thesis (either in Scrivener or in word) – do you have a wish-list?

  • Is there something that you’d really like to be able to do in Scrivener but can’t figure it out?
  • Is there something that you currently manage across multiple programs (e.g. word and evernote) but would be super-cool if you could do it all in Scrivener?
  • Are you thesis writing in Scrivener and have a neat trick or tip to share?

Here is your chance. Please add to the wish-list via the comments section below or share your experience of Scrivener for Thesis Writing.

I’m also thinking about facilitating some Scrivener-for-Thesis-Writing workshops. If you are located on the east coast of Australia and would be interested, please get in contact.

2016 how-to posts will start next week. Until then, welcome to a year of productive thesis writing.

Thanks Everyone

Remember Scrivener has a free 30-day trial period. You can download Scrivener with an Education Discount via this link (Note: purchasing via this link gives me a commission about equal to the cost of a cappuccino)


About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at thequalitativeresearcher.net
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16 Responses to Wish-lists: Scrivener for Thesis Writing

  1. Hi Sarina,
    As someone currently working on their thesis in Scrivener and who has used it since its beta mac versions too many years ago to remember, the two things I would love to see are; a better level of integration of referencing platforms like Endnote, what is there now is OK but could be much better, and the ability to view the word count on a level by level basis, either in the binder page footer or elsewhere, currently you can see the entire project or a section but not for an entire chapter (unless I am missing something, which is completely possible…)
    I look forward to your articles,

    • Hi Francis, Thanks for your comment. I think that you can see a word count for an entire chapter. Here’s how:
      -The outliner view will always show “the breakdown” of smaller sections. For instance – if you select your Chapter on Methodology and then click ‘outliner view’- you’ll be able to see the word count for individual sections of that Chapter.
      – this means that to see the Chapter total word count you need to select a ‘higher level’ . So if you have a Master Folder (in my case, labelled ‘Thesis’) with the Chapters in this – select the highest level Master folder and then click outliner and you can see the word count for each chapter. Hope that helps. I’ll be sure to include a detailed post on this.

      • Hi again Sarina,
        Thanks for your suggestion, after raising this one I thought I would try some alternates to find what I am after and there is another way to the one you have set out above.
        By selecting the chapter in binder (I suspect my binder layout is similar to yours in Thesis as the overall, then chapters then sections and sub sections etc) then clicking on Project > Project Statistics, opens the statistics view and shows the total compiled document statistics it the top half and the selection in the bottom, giving me a really quick way to see my chapter word count.

      • Thanks Francis. That’s a great tip!

    • BTW- yes, the Endnote integration is a bit basic. It’s doable but such a pity that thesis writers pretty much still need to have access to word in order to be able to compile a bibliography.

  2. Hi Sarina, I’m a newbie scrivener convert, excited to have found it. I’m just in proposal writing stage and one thing I’d find useful is to be able to have the date and time stamp on my printouts,is that possible? Thanks Donna

    • Hi Donna, totally possible. What format are you usually printing in and do you have “Front Matter” page?

    • Hi Donna, the easiest way is to have a Front Matter page that includes a placeholder tag. You can find the Placeholder Tags under the Help Menu option. There are many to choose from:


      Wherever you place this placeholder tag- it will print if you include it in your compile option.
      I will try to do a post on this showing to include it on a front page and in footers or headers. Hope this helps in the meantime.

    • I don’t know why the placeholder tags didn’t show in my comments but they look something like this (without the spaces)

  3. Anne Cleave says:

    This is just a quick comment – I followed your link to buy the full version of Scrivener but I can only see the mac options and I need a Windows one (my free download is for windows.) I really want you to have a capuccino on me so if I am missing something, please point me in the right direction.

  4. Hi Sarina,

    I’m looking into switching to Scrivener for writing my dissertation. I have used Pages to write about half of it and handling footnotes and bibliographical references is getting out of control. Right now I am trying to figure out how to create a cross-referencing footnote (e.g. a footnote that reads: see footnote 23), which is not possible simply because footnote numbers only show up when complied (there’s a count in the sidebar but it mixes comments and footnotes, so I know that will change, never mind if I add footnotes later on). Word has a simple way of doing this, and it keeps a dynamic reference for changing footnote numbers (Pages does not). I thought placeholder tags would do the job but, again, as far as I can tell footnotes have no identifiers until everything is compiled. I suppose a combination of placeholder tag and internal links will give an adequate result, but I still cannot figure it out. Any help will be greatly appreciated!


    • Hi Daniel
      You are right – Scrivener does not keep a ‘dynamic reference for changing footnote numbers’ – here is an explanation why

      “The problem with putting the footnote numbers in the sidebar—and presumably the same number as a footnote marker in the text—is that one of the fundamental features of Scrivener is the ability to write in small chunks and move them around. So, if you write chunks, lets say A, with three footnotes, B with four footnotes, and C with two footnotes, and you have the footnotes assigned numbers, 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, then you decide to move chunk C before B; your footnotes now have the sequence 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 4, 5, 6, 7. Or perhaps you split A and move the second part between B and C, so now you have 1, 2, 4, … 3, 8, 9.

      The thing is Scrivener doesn’t “know” anything about the whole text, unlike Word where the whole text is a single file, and so if you move things around Word knows what the new order of the footnotes is. A Scrivener project consists of potentially thousands of files, each of which may have it’s own footnotes attached, but Scrivener can only know the relation between them all when you compile. So to do what you want, every time you added a footnote anywhere, anytime you moved a paragraph, whether as a single binder document or within a binder document, Scrivener would have to do a background compile to sort out the footnote numbers … and it would be the Scrivenerati who use lots of footnotes who would be the first to complain vociferously about the continual non-responsiveness.” (from the Scrivener Forum http://tinyurl.com/hltatr8).

      You can create an external link in a Footnote and you can create a Scrivener link in an inline footnote- but other than the way you are already working, I don’t have a better response for you- have you tried posting to the Scrivener Knowledge Forum? https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/index.php

      Please let us know if you figure out a better way. Thanks so much for your comment

      • Thanks for your prompt reply! I will try posting to the Knowledge Forum. For now, I have resorted to use an inline footnote that links a “page” placeholder tag to the file where the footnote is, which ends up reading like this: “see footnote to p. 13),” this is almost satisfactory and can be hard edited in the final version. The problem is that if the file contains more than 1 page then it won’t work.

        I understand the reason for not having footnote numbers, but I still assume footnotes must have some sort of identifier that works like the page tag does, so that I will obtain a footnote number after compiling. Oh well.

        Thanks, I look forward to reading your future posts!

      • Hi Daniel,
        I was just reading some advice on publishing academic papers and whilst this doesn’t solve your problem – the advice recommends that when referring to other parts of your manuscript that you “name the bit you are referring to”. As in “refer to Figure 13” (incorrect) vs. “refer to Diagram on Distribution Figure 13” (correct).
        You might want to consider doing something like this in case you get lost later on.

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