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Tech Tuesday: Tracking progress in Scrivener

For the foreseeable future, I'm devoting Tuesdays to writing technology topics, usually related to Scrivener. Today's post shows you several ways to track your writing progress. If you have any requests relating to Scrivener, or other technical writing-related topics, let me know.

NOTE: Word counts in Scrivener are based on whatever you have selected in Compile Manuscript (under the File menu). So, if you've been printing synopses, you'll need to go back and select the Text checkbox, and make sure all files you want to count are selected.

My favorite tool for tracking my progress is the Project Targets box located under View, Statistics, Show Project Targets.

You can enter the overall target amount (in this case 80,000 words), and a target for each session. The session count is reset every time you close and reopen Scrivener, or when you press the reset button.

Until I found this, I was doing the math every day.

Another handy way to see how much you've written is the Project Statistics. This will show you total manuscript words, as well as the number of words in a selection of files. Use Shift+click to select a contiguous list of scenes or chapters (or Cmd+click for noncontiguous files), then click View, Statistics, Project Statistics.

What do I do with all of these numbers? Well, being the ANALyst that I am, I track my daily progress in a file called Productivity that I created under Resources section of the binder. It's just a text file where I include the date, final word count, net gain or loss, and any little notes to explain why I didn't hit 1000 words (revisions, etc). Maybe someday I'll even import it into Excel and make a pretty graph…

Happy tracking!

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.

UPDATE 9/20/10: If you just want to count the words in a selection of text (say several paragraphs out of a whole file), right-click (or ctrl-click) on the selected text to see the word count at the bottom of the pop-up menu.

UPDATE 2/3/11: For updates to Project Targets in Scrivener 2.x, see Project Targets in Scrivener 2.x.

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  1. Christine


    Does it track CUT words? Ha ha. I’ll have to check that box and go for it. I also have a question for you: whenever I compile my draft and send it to WORD, the formatting gets all wonky. How do I prevent this from happening?

    • Reply

      Actually, it shows net words, so if you spend the entire session cutting, it will show a negative value. Not necessarily great motivation unless your MS is too long. 😉

      I’ll get back to you offline about the other, and maybe turn it into a tech post later.

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  5. Reply

    Thanks Gwen! Your suggestion to include the wordcounts in a productivity file is genius! I’ve done the same but am cutting and pasting the actual graphic for each day’s entry. Such a great motivational tool!

  6. Reply

    Perfect! This was exactly what I was looking to do, and I was lucky enough to find your post right off the bat. Thanks for much for sharing.

  7. Sandra


    I like your tutorials. My question is why do I have different numbers when I select Manuscript in the binder on the left, then open Project Statistics and see more words in Selection than in Manuscript? I don’t have a single scene chosen, but the whole manuscript. Is it counting Research?

    • Reply

      Hi, Sandra. Because the Manuscript section is based on compile settings, this can happen if some of the documents in your Manuscript folder aren’t checked to be included in Compile. (That’s available either in the Compile window on the Contents tab, or for each individual document on the Notes tab of the Inspector.) So, if you recently compiled only your first three chapters or something like that, that’s all that will be counted.

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