Scrivener for Windows review

9 Dec 2011

A brilliant, flexible package for serious writers, which helps manage the creative process from start to finish; it’s great value too

Price when reviewed: 
27(£27 inc VAT)
5

If you’re working on a book, a thesis or a play, you’re probably using Microsoft Word to bash out the words and, if you’re really organised, a note-taking app such as OneNote to manage your ideas and research. Now that Scrivener has finally made the jump out of beta onto the PC, however, there is a better way. And it’s set to transform the way you write.

That may seem a bold statement to make about any piece of software, let alone one that treads on the toes of one of the most used pieces of software on the planet. Yet Scrivener manages it, and it does so by doing things differently.

The key thing to appreciate is that Scrivener isn’t a word processor in the normal sense. Instead, it’s designed to let writers tackle larger projects, gathering multiple documents, notes and research materials all in one place and allowing you to rearrange them at will.

At the end of the process, the finished document is “compiled” from selected elements for output to a variety of formats, from Word document to ebook or direct to print.

Scrivener for Windows

It’s easy to get started. Just hit Ctrl-N and a new note or document is added to your project instantly, with all documents automatically saved as you go. To help you organise your thoughts, Scrivener also encourages users to add descriptive metadata using the Inspector panel. Here you can quickly apply labels such as “chapter” or “concept”, as well as status settings such as “to do” or “done”.

You can add your own references, notes, keywords and a synopsis – to highlight which characters are involved in a particular scene, or which themes are developed in a particular section, for instance. And although the emphasis in Scrivener is firmly on the creation of texts, you can also use it to organise your research, with the ability to bring in graphics, video, audio, PDFs or even full live web pages. The twin document view lets you view your text and research material side by side on the same screen.

Scrivener’s “Corkboard” view is where it all comes together, though. This presents your multiple documents, notes and other bits and bobs as index cards, letting you see and edit titles and synopses. Keywords, colours and status settings can also be applied as stamps. You can simply drag to rearrange cards on the Corkboard, and double-click to drill through to work on the text.

Details

Price ex VAT £23
Price inc VAT £27
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Software subcategory Office software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Mac OS X supported? yes