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Full screen, label and status, printing synopses and notes

If you've been paying attention at all, you know I use–and adore–Scrivener for writing my MS. I use it for first draft, revisions, and pretty much until I'm ready to send it out. I export to Word only for the final formatting, read-through, super-fine polishing, and buffing.

Here are a few handy things to know. First of all, the Scrivener website has video tutorials that are very helpful. Also, if you're on Facebook, become a fan of Scrivener and you'll receive daily tips and tricks.

1. Working in full screen mode. Full screen mode is intended to take away the distraction of everything around what you're typing so you can focus. It offers the additional benefits of allowing you to change the background color to something you find pleasing, and keeping the line you're writing in the center of the page.

  • Click the Full Screen button on the toolbar.
  • Move mouse to bottom of the screen to get a disappearing tool bar where you can change some of the preferences, and exit.
  • You can also exit Full Screen by hitting the ESC key on your keyboard.
  • To change preferences such as background color, click Scrivener on the menu bar, choose Preferences, click the Full Screen button.
  • To work on more than one scene or chapter at a time, select them all using shift+click (for contiguous selection), or command+click (for non-contiguous files). Click Edit Scrivenings on the tool bar, then click Full Screen.

I've read that blue is a good background color for creative activities like writing, and red backgrounds are best for detail-oriented tasks like editing. Both are supposed to be good for boosting productivity.

2. Customize the Label and Status settings. It's easy to personalize the Label and Status drop-down menus in the Inspector window. You can change the name from Label to something else (I use POV, here), change the list items from things like “Chapter” and “Scene” to “Steve” and “Libby”, and change the colors used (I use pink for the heroine, blue for the hero, and other colors for any additional characters who get a POV scene).

  • If the Inspector window is not visible, click Inspector in the tool bar.
  • Expand the General pane, if needed, by clicking on the gray triangle.
  • Click the drop-down arrow next to Label (the box should have the words No Label in it if you're just getting started), and choose Edit…
  • In the Custom Title box, change the word Label to POV (or whatever you want to track).
  • You can then double-click the name of a specific label to change the text (say from Scene to Steve).
  • Double-click the color of the label to change its color.
  • Click the OK button, and you're ready to start assigning labels to your scenes.
  • You can repeat the above process with the Status drop-down menu, if desired.

Once you apply the label to a scene, the synopsis card, the file icon, and the index card will change to that color (if you have tinted icons or index cards turned on). If you're trying to determine quickly which character has the most scenes in their POV, color-coding can help.

UPDATE 3/23/10: I changed my Status menu to list the day and week to track my timeline. It's been very helpful to quickly see in the Corkboard where I am in the story (for example “Mon-1” for Monday of week 1). The options here are limited only by your imagination.

3. Print synopsis (or notes) only. Finally–for today, anyway–you can print your synopses. They will not come out looking like index cards, but instead like paragraphs.

  • Click File, Compile Manuscript.
  • On the Content tab, under the Document Elements section (bottom right), uncheck everything except the Synopses check box.
  • The default will include the # symbol between each scene (file). To change this, select the Text Options tab and change the separator under the Sections area (top left corner).
  • Choose Print…
  • UPDATE 1/15/10: This works for printing Notes, too. Just follow the steps above, but select Notes instead of Synopses.

Just like any software, you can learn a lot by exploring. Don't be afraid to check out a new button, or search Help.

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

Happy Scrivening!

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  1. Martha W


    And… you’ve gotta be a Mac user. *sigh* This little tidbit bummed me out.

    It sounds like such great software (I’ve heard about this everywhere) and as a Windows user – I dream of the day…

  2. Reply

    Initially, Gwen, thank you very much for your post! So glad that you are getting more from Scrivener by playing around with the features.

    I wanted to respond to Martha and let her know that we are working hard in order to lift her mood! 😉 Anyone can join our ‘Scrivener for Windows’ newsletter by going here:

    News on development progress will be posted to that newsletter group first.

    Thanks again Gwen.

    All the best,

    • Martha W


      Thanks for the info, David (and Gwen). Of course I zipped over there and signed up… Now I have hope! 🙂

    • Reply

      David: Thanks for stopping by, and for the tweet! I can’t sing the praises of Scrivener enough. And thanks to Keith for creating such a great product. You have a bevy of fans on this side of the pond!


  3. Christine


    I am so glad I told you about this program! Now I have a super guru for my guide! I’m sending the ladies in VA this link.


      • Martha W


        If you’re going to do more… could you put it over in the Please Explain shortcuts?? *grin* For my own brand of laziness, of course…

      • heather


        Hi thanks for your blog! I would like to know how to apply labels to specific lines of text, rather than to an entire document within the binder. Or would it be better to use keywords? Thanks

        • Reply

          Heather: Labels and keywords work at the document level. To code a line of text, the only thing I can think of is to either use highlighter colors (which you can rename, if desired), or to select the text and add a comment. I guess you could also use Revision marking to color the text itself instead of the area around it.

          Hope that helps!

          • heather


            Ok, I guess that is what I will do then.
            I appreciate your response, especially as it was so timely. Thank you

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  6. Reply

    Thanks for these great tips.

    One question: I’m trying to use labels, but the chosen color appears only on the *pins* on the cork board. It sounds like you have these colors also appearing in the file icons (in Binder). (Of

    Is there a preference I need to change somewhere?

    • Reply

      Hi, Stan. Glad you found the ideas useful.

      To color your file icons, go to the View menu and choose Tint Icons With Label Color. That will color the index cards and the icons in Binder.

  7. Donna collier


    I have tried to print a synopsis and really wanted it to include the Titles that are on the cards, not just the information underneath. I cannot find a way to include and print the titles so the synopsis seems like random words. how do I get the synopsis to print AND include the Title of the corkboard cards.

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  10. Reply

    Hi! Thanks for all these great tips!
    I had a small question I hope you can help me with: is there a way to change the label for multiple scenes at once?

    • Reply

      Yes there is, Minerva. Select the items, then right click (ctrl-click) on one of them to get a menu. From there you can choose either Label or Status and choose the value. Thanks!

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