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Tech Tuesday: Project templates revisited for Scrivener 2.x

A Scrivener project template is a framework on which to base a new project. Whether you’re penning a book, article, screenplay, or research paper, there's a template for you. (For more on how to choose the best template for your project, check out Choosing a Scrivener Project Template.)

For example, the Novel template comes prepopulated with certain folders, such as Manuscript, Characters, Places, Research, and Templates (the latter is for document templates, which are similar but are for documents within a project). The Novel template also includes Compile settings that are tweaked to export your file in standard novel format. For a minimalist approach, start with the Blank template.

Here's how to use project templates, and create your own.

Creating a New Project from a Built-in Template

  1. Click on the File menu, choose New Project.
  2. Click on the appropriate category icon along the left side, and choose a template from the list.
  3. Click Choose.
  4. Give the new project a name and location, and click Create.

Template window

Project based on the built-in Novel template

Even if an existing template doesn’t have quite the set up you’re looking for, chances are it’s a good place to start. For example, I based my book project on the Novel template, then added folders for the four parts of my novel, changed the Label and Status fields, added an Unused Scenes folder, a saved search, and more.

Creating a Custom Template Based on Your Project

Once you have your project put together the way you like to work, you can create your own template for future projects. If you make changes down the road, just save the improved version with the same name to replace the old version.

  1. Unless you’re using a blank project to create your template, click on File, Save As and give the project a new name to distinguish it from your working project. You’ll be able to delete this once you’ve created your new template, so you may want to save it to the Desktop for easy access.
  2. Strip out all of the manuscript-specific items (unless you want those scenes in all of your future work ;-)).
    NOTE: Not only can you save the structure and layout, you can even incorporate reference files (like a story structure cheat sheet or a reminder of how to write a synopsis) into your template. In fact, anything in the file when you save it as a template will remain, so be sure to strip it of anything you don’t want (including project-specific settings, keywords, and meta-data values) before saving.
  3. Click on the File menu, choose Save As Template.
  4. Enter a name.
  5. Choose a category (where it will be listed in the Template window).
  6. Enter a description, if desired.
  7. Choose an icon, if desired.
  8. Click OK.

Saving a stripped out project as a template

Filling in the information for a custom template

Creating a New Project Based on a Custom Template

Follow the instructions from Create a New Project from a Built-in Template above, but choose the custom template you created.

Template Options

Notice that the Options button in the Project Templates (Mac)/New Project (Windows) window provides four choices.

  1. Set Selected Template as Default: Will highlight that template in the Template window every time you open it.
  2. Import Template: Allows you to import a template you’ve downloaded from the web or a friend, or transfer templates from another computer.
  3. Export Template: Allows you to export a template to be moved to another computer, or to share with others.
  4. Delete Selected Template: Lets you delete a template you no longer want (custom templates only).

Got any questions? Ask away.

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.

[Updated 1/27/17]

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  1. Aspiring


    Thanks for taking the time to set up this great Scrivener blog Gwen – you rock!
    As a small business person I am looking to use this program because it allows me to write a book and dip into and out of chapters, etc. as I please, around clients.

    I am hoping to follow this blog as training here in Australia is really close to impossible to find thus far. In this regard it may well be a good excuse to buy your new book:)

    I find the template facet very interesting and I am starting to really get into some of the other functionality as well.

    Now I will cease commentary….writing comments that will be read by writers is a little daunting!

    • Reply

      Aspiring: Thanks! Good luck working with Scrivener. It takes a little time–like any new program–but it’s worth it.

      Don’t be intimidated commenting on a writer’s page. We’re nothing without a good editor. 😉

  2. Reply

    I just purchased Scrivener today and have made it through much of the included tutorial. Do you know if anyone has developed a template for Grant Applications? I’d love to find one already made, but your post may be a lifesaver for us to build our own! Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Scrivener Basics: Starting, Opening, and Closing | The Edited Life

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