Simply put, Scrivener is writing software. That is, software that makes it easy to create, edit, and organize all your work from initial scribblings, to storyboarding, to character development, to plot organization, to final manuscript.

While my focus for this review will be on using Scrivener to write a book, it can easily be used for many types of writing projects. From blog posts, reports, and dissertations to movie scripts, research papers, and more. The big question is, is it worth it? Keep reading to find out!

Note:  Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means Softpress earns a small commission if you click through and purchase. This costs you nothing extra, and in no way influences the products we recommend. Your success is our success so we don’t promote products or tools we don’t love and believe will help you.

What is Scrivener?

As I told you in the opening paragraph, Scrivener is writing software. And, it was specifically designed with writers in mind for creating and organizing long-form content. In fact, it was created initially for writing novels, but has evolved into a flagship product for serious authors, bloggers, and thought leaders. Think Joanna Penn, Jeff Goins, and Michael Hyatt.

Make no mistake, Scrivener is much more than a virtual typewriter. It’s powerful word-processing software that rivals Pages, WordPerfect, and Microsoft Word. As with these other programs, Scrivener allows you to write, format, and manipulate text. However, it’s the many additional features that sets Scrivener apart from the competition.

With the ability to collect, import, and organize every element of what you are working on, Scrivener keeps everything in one place, and ready for when you need it. No more lost web links, graphics, or illustrative quotes! Add elements to your project on the fly, and easily retrieve them when you need them. In short, it’s our number one pick for recommended writing software for authors.

Benefits of Scrivener

I’ve already given you a taste of some of the benefits of Scrivener above. However, I want to elaborate on some of the specific program features the Softpress team loves and I’m sure you will find very handy.

Corkboard

We’ve probably all had a cork board at some point in the past. You know, where you tack up party invites, recipes, favorite pictures, or whatever else you deem important. Sooner or later, the board itself is hidden by the vast array of paraphernalia you have collected over time. Similarly, many authors will use index cards on a cork board to plan and organize their manuscript. But what do you do when the board is full or can’t find that one card you’re looking for? That’s not an issue with Scrivener.

You see, the corkboard feature allows you to easily visualize, arrange, and storyboard your entire writing project. Any subdocuments you collect for a project are seen as virtual index cards that can be drag & dropped, added to, or deleted. Try that with Word!

Scrivener Corkboard

Outliner

Outliner is a tool that allows you to work with an overview of a particular chapter or even your entire manuscript. It gives you more information to work with than Corkboard, so you can easily structure your writing. Whether you need to review what you’ve written or want to summarize what to write next, the Outliner tool makes it fast and simple.

What’s more, you can check word count on the fly, and even view the metadata associated with a particular section. As if that weren’t enough, the drag and drop feature within Outliner allows for quick organization of small sections or entire chapters.

Scrivener Outliner

Scratch Pad

How do you currently keep track of those “eureka moments” while writing? You probably have a ton of Post-It® notes stuck to your computer monitor right? Put them in the recycle bin and use Scrivener’s Scratch Pad instead. With Scratch Pad, you can easily type a quick note and file it in the appropriate place to come back to later. All without leaving your current screen! Just hit Ctrl+Shift+0 and Scratch Pad is at your service.

Scrivener Scratch Pad

Import Option

Already have writing or research in other programs? Scrivener makes it easy to import all sorts of files including Word documents, plain text files, Final Draft® scripts, images, PDF documents, movies, sound files, and even web pages.

Formatting Your Work

Once you have some text in your Scrivener project, applying formats is quick and virtually effortless. Most word processors can do the basics like making text bold, placing it in italics, or highlighting. However, Scrivener takes it up a notch. Use formatting presets to indent block quotes, change text size or fonts, or a host of other things all with a single click! You can even copy and paste specific formatting from one text section to another or save complex formatting styles to apply in other parts of a project.

Specific Tools for Non-Fiction

If you’re a non-fiction writer, you will certainly use and appreciate the ability to quickly add footnotes. Scrivener also allows for MathType integration and even includes templates for general and academic non-fiction writing.

Snapshots, Auto-Save, & Backups

Do rewrites cause you undue stress and anxiety? Use Scrivener’s Snapshot feature to take a virtual picture of a section before editing. Then, you’ll be able to return to an earlier version whenever you need to. Even compare your old and new text side by side to make edits quicker and easier.

The Auto-Save feature is exactly as what the name implies. It automatically saves your work while you are working. Never worry about when you last hit the save button again. And, use the Backup feature to automatically create a backup of your project whenever it is opened or closed.

Multiple Exporting Options

Regardless of where you plan to publish your work, Scrivener has you covered. Choose from a wide variety of file formats including ePub, PDF, MS Word, RTF, Final Draft®, or plain text. You can even export using different formatting. This allows you to write in your favorite font and still satisfy the submission guidelines of your desired publishing platform.

Disadvantages of Scrivener

Like any useful tool, there are downsides, and Scrivener is no exception. And, what’s a quality review without telling you the pros AND cons? So, here are a few things we feel are drawbacks to Scrivener:

Complexity

Scrivener is not a simple program. There is an abundance of features and tools, and for most, it won’t be super-intuitive to learn and master. While the user interface feels somewhat familiar if you’ve used any sort of advanced word processing software, we won’t sugar-coat the time it will take you to learn your way around and get productive.

Consider it a short-term investment of time for a long-term gain in productivity. Learning to use the robust assortment of features will pay dividends towards your efficiency and creativity on future projects.

You won’t be alone on your journey either. Scrivener offers a comprehensive and thorough manual as well as video tutorials, and an Extras Pack to help you with the learning process.

No Collaboration Features

This is a somewhat minor issue, but I do feel compelled to point it out. If you desire the ability to share a Scrivener document with your editor, for example, and have them make comments or suggestions while you’re still working in the file, you’re out of luck. While Google Docs mastered this feature eons ago, Scrivener has yet to add it. If this is a feature you simply can’t live without, I highly recommend Adobe InCopy.

No Web App

This is another minor complaint, but if you’re in a pinch and have to work on someone else’s computer without the Scrivener software installed, there’s no way to access your files. You’ll just have to order another margarita and enjoy the sunshine while in Tahiti. Yes, you can sync your files via a third-party storage service such as Dropbox, but you still need the software installed on the computer you are using.


Most of the above are closer to pet peeves than actual disadvantages. And, if you’re a serious writer, I wouldn’t let any one of them deter you from buying and using this awesome software.

Choice of Operating Systems

Whether you are an Apple user or PC aficionado, Scrivener has a version that will fit your needs as an author or writer. And, at only $45 for the standard license on either platform, it won’t break your budget.

Scrivener 3 is available for MacOS while Scrivener 3 for Windows is scheduled for release in the later part of 2018. Currently, anyone purchasing Scrivener for Windows will receive version 1 with a free update to version 3, once available. Existing Scrivener 1 users will be able to upgrade to version 3 for a mere $25. Don’t let the version numbers confuse or deter you from purchasing this awesome software. Click HERE to learn more about version 3 for Mac and the forthcoming version 3 for Windows.

As for future upgrades of Mac or Windows versions, you will not be charged for intermediate (aka: minor) updates. In other words, if you purchase version 3 for Mac today, all future minor updates (3.1, 3.2, 3.x) are free. If Scrivener releases a version 4 or above, there will be a charge for that update.

Purchasing Options

As I mentioned above, Scrivener is available for Mac or PC. And, at only $45, it’s a steal! Here’s how you can get Scrivener today:

Purchase Scrivener for PC
(Regular License)

Purchase Scrivener 3 for Mac
(Regular License)

Upgrade to Scrivener 3 for Mac (from previous Mac version only)
{Use coupon code SCRIV3MAC at checkout to get 50% off!}

Look for even more Scrivener coupon codes here.

Are you in the education field? Scrivener offers a discount to students and academics for its products. That’s right. Instead of the usual $45, you’ll get the latest version of Scrivener for only $38.25! Here are links for anyone with institutional affiliations:

Purchase Scrivener for PC
(Educational License)

Purchase Scrivener 3 for Mac
(Educational License)


Final Thoughts

Regardless of the genre, my goal here at Softpress Publishing is to support indie authors in their quest for improving their writing skills, getting their books out into the world, and being successful at doing what they love. One of the ways I like to do this is to recommend tools and resources that are highly functional and budget friendly. Scrivener meets, and exceeds, these requirements. In fact, at $45 (or less), it’s a steal!

Because it’s built with writers in mind, Scrivener has everything you need to research, compose, organize, edit, and finish your manuscript. And, as an author myself, I will never again attempt to cobble together a book using any other word processing software. Hopefully, you won’t either.

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