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Tech Tuesday: Project Replace in Scrivener

If you change your character's name from Rob to Joe, and you don't set it up correctly, you could end up with odd words in your manuscript, like “PJoeably”, “Joe a bank”, and “thJoe”. Of course, Scrivener's Project Replace feature has a couple of important options to ensure that you only replace the desired instances of a word within your MS.

To access the Project Replace feature, click the Edit menu, select Find, choose Project Replace…


Ignore Case: Will replace all matches, regardless of capitalization. Not recommended when replacing names or acronyms. NOTE: Ignore Case only applies to the Replace box, not the With box. If you type “Joe” in the With box, it will replace both “Rob” and “rob” with “Joe”.

Whole words only: This will avoid the “pjoelem” discussed earlier. If this is checked, Scrivener will only mark “Rob” or “rob” (depending on your case choices) for replacement. Great for replacing “pin” with “needle” without changing “hoping” to “honeedleg”. 😉 Bad for proper nouns where you may have possessive or contracted forms (e.g. Rob's, Rob'll).

Both unchecked: All instances of the letters matching the case you've used in the Replace box will be marked for replacement, regardless of their appearance within another word. In the picture example above, “Rob”, “Rob's”, “Robbing” will be affected, but not “rob”, “probe”, or “ROB”.

Both checked: The exact word entered in the Replace box will be marked for replacement, regardless of case. In the picture example above, “Rob”, “rob”, and “ROB” will be affected, but not “Rob's”, “robber”, or “probably”.

Scope: Check the documents you'd like to be affected by the replace action.

The easiest way to understand Project Replace is to play around with it yourself. If you're nervous about what Scrivener will replace, you might first use the Project Search feature (covered in last week's post) to see what it returns for a match. Or you can double-check the results using Project Search after you perform the Replace.

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.

 Write on.

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  1. Reply

    Such handy advice, especially as I sometimes use a temporary name for secondary characters. Let the story unfold and see if the name still fits. Thought I was being clever naming someone Zed once, then got into a muddle with “recognized” etc.

    Have started using a number in a temporary name – br3nda, gr4nt – and this seems to work a lot better.

    Your posts are always interesting.

    • Reply

      I’m glad you found it useful. I change character names, company names, cars, and all sorts of stuff. See, now you could use Zed with no problem, but the number thing is an interesting idea.

      Thanks for dropping a line!

  2. Reply

    That’s awesome! I had just got to the point of thinking that my protagonist was called by the wrong name… and you fixed my problem. I had not realised that this feature was in the product.

  3. Pingback: Tech Tuesday: Scrivener Text Menu Tidbits « The Edited Life

  4. Andy Rimes


    I assume there’s no easy way to replace a word with it’s italicized version. I can use Project Search and retype of course, but there’s so clear function in Find/Replace.

    • Reply

      Andy: Sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been moving this last week. Anyway, the only way I can think of to get an italicized version without retyping all of the instances would be to use MultiMarkdown (MMD) syntax. You could do a Find–>Project Replace where you replace the current word with its MMD equivalent for italics. Then when you Compile, on the Transformations tab (in the Compile window), you would select the option to Convert Markdown to Bold and Italics. The word wouldn’t be italic in your editor, but it would come out italic when you compile. To make a word italic using Markdown just add an underscore before and after it. So if you wanted to italicize house, you would type _house_. Hope that helps!

      • Andy Rimes


        Thanks Gwen. I’ve been using MMD to Compile to an ebook file but I hadn’t thought to use it in this way as well.

  5. Th-Ang


    You can do all that and replace with italics in Word …. I’m using this at the behest of a client who thinks it is the best writing tool – it seems to just be reinventing a wheel to me.

    • Reply

      Th-Ang: Well, of course, but many people want to export (compile) directly to formats like EPUB, MOBI, or PDF without ever dealing with Word. For them, Scrivener offers many of the same features within the program. And Word can’t come close to Scrivener’s organization, structure visualization, or tagging functions. It all depends on what you need/want for your writing process. 🙂

  6. Philosoraptor


    This was truly helpful. I am writing a dissertation right now and am using some non-standard characters (math and greek symbols) but every time I pasted the symbol, it would change my default font and I would have to change it back. One or two times, no big deal, but after about the 30th time, I was getting annoyed. Now, I just type phi or psi as placeholders and do a replace project before compiling. GREAT TIP!!

    • Reply

      That’s a great use for it, Philosoraptor! Thank you for sharing. Another tip is that you can use Edit–>Paste and Match Style (instead of Paste) so the text you’re inserting will match the existing document format. Glad the post helped. Good luck with your dissertation!

  7. Philosoraptor


    If any of your readers are in a similar boat to me concerning non-standard characters, I have discovered a simple find-and-replace gimmick. Sometimes I have to use a variable as a noun and sometimes a verb and sometimes pluralize, etc. when doing so I have found that if I have “whole word” checked in the find-and-replace window, then scrivener will not “see” the written out variable. For example, if I write: A subject S phis intentionally if and only if … And then do a find-and-replace it will not “see” phis. So, instead to make sure that scrivener sees it, I put the relevant phonetic variable in quotes. So, the above sentence would be, A subject S “phi”s if and only if… now when I do the find-and-replace project, I have Scrivener replace “phi” with the quotes. Then it comes out like this: s. I hope that is clear and helpful to someone.

  8. Reply

    I’m trying to use this feature, but in the 2.8 Version. For some reason, it’s not finding (and thus replacing) text that I know exists. For instance I went to the Search Bar on my menu and typed in my search criterion. I got quite a few hits. I then went to the Edit->Find->Project replace screen. I checked all items except the “regex”, then put in the exact same search criterion ( with replacement), but it continually says that there is nothing found. This can’t be right. So what could I be doing wrong?

      • Reply

        I didn’t have that checked, but I played around and found out that I needed to de-select “Whole words only” and it seemed to work. I don’t exactly know why. I was removing “Jones-Day” and replacing with “Hearts-Knight” so I don’t know how the whole words would have played into that. The hyphen perhaps?

        • Reply

          Probably the hyphen. Whole words is generally used so that you don’t get Bobbed when you only want to replace Bob, but also prevents you from replacing Bob’s, which you probably want. So… Glad you figured it out. 🙂

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