Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Customise Your Icons


Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Customise your icons


Did you know it’s possible to customise the icons in Scrivener? I’ve customised mine to represent the country flags of the two places that I did my fieldwork (Brazil and Timor-Leste). This makes it visually easy to move back and forth across the different sections I’m writing and know where I am.

My customisation has undergone some different stages as I’ve adjusted the thesis organisation and figured out what visually works for me.

Round 1 : I grouped my writings.  The Blue Folders are both Brazil related and the red folders are both Timor related. At the moment, you can see they are organised

  1. Brazil: Situating the Study
  2. Timor-Leste: Situating the Study
  3. Brazil: Empirical
  4. Timor-Leste: Empirica
Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Customise your icons

This example uses coloured folder icons to organise the thesis. Blue Folders were used for sections on Brazil and Red Folders for sections on Timor-Leste

Round 2: I decided this format didn’t work and would require mental jumping back and forth for examiners. Instead I grouped both sections (Situating the Study & Empirical) by Country. It is great how easy to do this in Scrivener- I can just ‘pick up’ the chapter folder and move it within the binder (drag and drop).
It now looks like this:
Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Customise your Icons

Flags icons were used to help visually orient my writing. Structure was also changed to previous version

Obviously the flag icons are not ‘in-built’ icons in Scrivener. It’s very easy to add a customised icon to your Scrivener project.

Firstly, you’ll want to download some icons. Icons are simply images – you can add .jpg, .png or .tiff icons. It might take some playing around to see which icons display best for you in Scrivener – sometimes they appear too small, unclear or with too much detail. Also decide HOW the icons will help your writing (not just an exercise in procrastination). I settled on the flags because it was a quick visual clue to myself that meant I didn’t really have to think about the structure – I recognise those symbols very quickly.  Canva Design School has a great list of +50 free-icons downloads.

In theory you can assign actual photos (i.e. .jpg) as an icon- however, I don’t recommend it as even high quality photos are small & undefined. Better to choose a simply, easy to recognise icon.
Secondly, you need to access the icon management section. You can do this via selecting an item in your binder (except the very top level “thesis” (Manuscript) folder) and right-clicking.  Alternate access is via the gear symbol at the bottom of the Binder.
Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Customise your Icons

Right-click and access the icon management section. Scrivener comes with some built in icons but it is very easy to add your own customised icons

  • Go- > Change Icon
  • Manage Icons
  • Click on the + symbol to add your own icon
  • The – symbol will delete any icons that you do not like.


Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Customise your icons

Icons in Project Package apply to this Project only – Icons in Applications apply to all your Scrivener Projects

You can see from the 3 icons I’ve added here the difference between a simple black icon, a coloured icon and a photo.
Happy Thesis Writing!
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
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