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Tech Tuesday: Word frequency in Scrivener

Need to get rid of those echo words in your manuscript?

A while back, I wrote about a web site called Wordle that lets you create a word cloud showing your most commonly used words. Fun and highly distracting, but not very practical for regular use.

As it happens, Scrivener has a built-in feature that will display the frequency of every word in your document, or group of selected scenes. Here's how:

  1. Select the scene or scenes you wish to view.
    (As always, shift+click for contiguous selection, cmd+click for non-contiguous selection.)
  2. Click Edit Scrivenings.
  3. Click inside the editing window and press cmd+A (or Edit, Select All), to select all of the text in the window.
  4. From the View menu, choose Statistics, Text Statistics.
  5. If necessary, click the triangle next to Word frequency to display the chart.
  6. Click on either the Count or Frequency header to sort the words in descending order.

Voila! You'll want to scroll down to get past the, to, he, she, and so on, but it's worth it to have quick and easy access to your most frequently used words.

 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.


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  1. Reply

    Holy crap this is awesome. I’ve been looking into DevonThink for this kind of functionality, but it looks like Scrivener does basically everything I need. Thanks for featuring this. What a great tool not just for writing, but for research. How many times did the president mention Iraq vs. Afghanistan in a speech, for example. I just hope the tool doesn’t expose how many times I use the word “cool” 🙂

  2. Lea



    It was what I was looking for!

    It will be perfect with the possibility to exclude words (the, a…)
    This feature is specially useful for French where we might not repeat word.


  3. Reev


    Now why didn’t I Google this earlier? 🙂 Been doing it manually (writing frequently used words from memory). Thank you so much for unselfishly sharing this!

  4. Reply

    So, yes, that is useful. But what I need, what I suspect everyone needs, is another view of these word frequency stats where what is shown is the degree with which each word’s frequency varies from its frequency in an english language corpus. That way, one can really see which words (concepts, events, places, people, things) that are salient in a given chunk of writing or across a manuscript or personal library of manuscripts. Do you know of any writing software that tracks word use deltas over the course of a manuscript?

    • Reply

      Hi, Randall. That could be handy, especially for certain types of writing. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of anything that’ll do it. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist though. You might check Grammarly or something similar to see what its capabilities are. Good luck!

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