Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Using Synopsis as a Topic Sentence checker

Topic Sentences are important in academic writing.  The Thesis Whisperer has blogged about “The Zombie Thesis” and how a lack of clear topic sentences can make your thesis, well, zombie like.

Luckily, Scrivener has several awesome built-in features that makes regular checking of your writing for topic sentences really easy. The first feature you should master is the Synopsis feature.  The Synopsis Feature lives within the Inspector on the top right hand corner.  You have two options with the Synopsis feature – auto generate or manual input.  Manual input is good when you want to write a quick outline or draft note /abstract to yourself about what you plan to write in the main text. However, once you’ve started writing the main text, I like the auto-generate Synopsis.  This will grab the first paragraph of your writing for each Scrivener Item and add it to the Synopsis section.

You can then flip your view to Index Cards or Outliner (with Synopsis ticked) and check – does your writing flow? Do the first paragraphs of each section have a topic sentence? Are they strong enough with the following text or are you creating a zombie thesis?

More posts to come on how to use other features to check for Topic Sentences.  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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1 Response to Scrivener for Thesis Writing: Using Synopsis as a Topic Sentence checker

  1. Jacqueline Peters says:

    Great post, I think the synopsis as topic sentence checker is a brilliant idea. I just wanted to mention that the ‘auto-generate synopsis’ button is not longer on the inspector, hasn’t been for the last two versions. It’s only in the document menu which is less convenient.

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