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Tech Tuesday: Templates in Scrivener

UPDATE: For the Scrivener 2.x templates post, click here.

If you've been working in Scrivener for a while, you probably have it set up exactly the way you like it. You've modified the labels, opened the Inspector, created your own extra folders and files for things like unused scenes, research, productivity tracking, character sketches, and saved searches. Maybe you like to have twenty chapter folders all formatted correctly, ready and waiting to fill.

However you like to set it up, you'd probably prefer not to have to do it again every time you start a new project. As always, there's a fix for that. Scrivener allows you to save templates. If you use Scrivener to write both novels and screenplays, you can create a template for each.

To get started, you can open a new project and set it up, or take an existing project that's set up the way you like it, make a copy in Finder, and then open it in Scrivener. If you use an existing one, strip out everything that's specific to the existing project (labels, text documents, research documents, etc.) and then save it.

Once you have your blank shell you're ready to proceed.

  1. From the File menu, choose Save As Template…
  2. Enter the Template Name and a Description

Now, you're ready to create a new project using your template.

  1. From the File menu, choose New Project (or choose New Project next time you open Scrivener)
  2. Select the template you want to use and click Next.
    – Note: The Templates… drop down box at the bottom will allow you to import templates from other people, export your templates to share with others, delete existing templates, and choose to make the selected template the default.
  3. Enter your Project Name and you're done.

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.

 And, I'd love to hear suggestions for future Tech Tuesday posts. Write on!

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  1. Reply

    Love it…want to cross blog on Tech Tuesdays? LOL. I just posted up about reality fighting techniques because I was inundated with it tonight.

    I love SCRIVENER. I would resell it if I could. I would put it on my PC and my PC laptop rather than logging in remotely to the mac every time I want to write. 😀 That’s how much I love this application.

    And, it was the only way I got book 3 written for the Elemental Goddesses. I think Glacial was trying to kill me.

    I have a certain way I like to work, so this is going to be a huge help! Thank you 🙂

  2. Christine


    Is the existing project already a Scrivener project, or can it be any other WORD project as well?

    • Reply

      Christine, a Word project wouldn’t work because it’s all about how you have your folders and Scrivener settings, not about the text that you’ve written.

      Now, you could create a template based on an existing Scrivener project that’s set up the way you want. Then open a new, blank project based on it, and import the Word document. Then, just split it into scenes like we talked about before.

  3. alarob


    Templates don’t include documents, do they? If I left a document in my Research folder and saved the template (like, say, a PDF guide to the university library), it wouldn’t appear in projects created with that template — or would it?

    • Reply

      Actually, Rob, it will totally include any documents you have in the project you use for the template. I tested just to be sure. Pretty handy, eh? 😉

      • Reply

        Very handy. I think Scrivener and Journler together becomes a writing software pair that can’t be beat. At least for me.

  4. Heather


    Are there any sites with pre-existing templates you can download? I have the extras that came with the install (with about 4-5 templates, including the novel template).

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  9. Reply

    Looking forward to the Dummies book! In the meantime, would you know where I could buy some good templates for nonfiction books?



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  11. Stephen Martin


    Hi Gwen,

    I love Scrivener for Dummies. Thank you so much.

    Is there a way to change templates once a project has been started?

    • Reply

      Glad to hear it, Stephen! There’s no direct way to change the template once you’ve created a project, but you can create a new project based on the template you want to use, then import the current project into the new one.

      You can either import via File–>Import–>Scrivener Project, or you can have both projects open side by side, select the desired files in the Binder from the current project and drag them to the Binder of the new project.

      The latter option is especially helpful if you want to “clean house” a little bit and not bring over everything you’ve already accumulated into the new version.

      Hope that helps!

    • Reply

      Lizzi: These types of templates are those you’d have to either apply to a Word document later (if they’re set up that way), or where you’d have to open the template and then copy/paste your own text in.

      I’ve been able to make my print books look very professional without one (Mac), but it depends on what you’re looking for. As I’ve said before, Scrivener doesn’t support drop caps or word wrapping, so you may prefer a book template. This post might be helpful if you are trying to export to a PDF for one of the POD companies:

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