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The full-featured Scrivener excels at all types of writing, from creative fiction to scholarly articles, and its 2.0 upgrade builds on its existing strengths and adds many new features, making it as comprehensive as it is affordable.
Organization is key to any major writing project, and Scrivener’s clever solution is the Binder -- literally the digital equivalent of a three-ring binder. Here you can store everything needed for a project: the manuscript, plus all your research (including PDF files and pictures), notes, ideas -- almost anything. New sources and folders are easily added to any of the sections, so there’s no fighting the app to make it do what you want.
Scrivener’s layout gives you room to type while keeping all your reference materials handy.
You can organize plots in the outliner or on a corkboard, which displays the contents of any folder as 3x5 cards that are easily rearranged. We used the corkboard to organize the text, but also to arrange timelines, scenes, and locations.
The text editor offers just enough styling options to give you a sense of the final output. And split-screen editing lets you write while also checking notes, images, or PDF files in other sections.
A rich set of metadata can be added to any document, including labels, links, notes, references, and keywords. We liked the automatic synopsis feature, which makes outlines much more useful. The completed project is compiled into several standard formats for submission.
Version 2.0 adds important features. We especially love the new templates, ranging from short story to research paper, and special sheets for characters and settings. The nonfiction templates make Scrivener a serious tool for research reports, theses, and scholarly articles.
The corkboard makes it easy to organize sections of your work, plot elements, scenes, and so on by dragging and dropping.
Project organization has also improved. You can select any set of documents and place them on the flexible corkboard for easy arrangement. Noncontiguous sets of documents can also be stored in the Binder as a Collection, a useful tool if you want to follow a particular character over several chapters.
The improved full-screen editing mode allows for distraction-free writing while still making important info available through Quick Reference panels. The speech feature now reads back any text selection, a wonderful tool to get a feel for text flow and catch typos or grammatical blunders.
A welcome addition is the new option to sync with iOS devices via SimpleNote, IndexCard, and apps that use Dropbox. We loved being able to start a project on an iPad and complete it on our MacBook.
Finally, Scrivener added e-book formatting for ePub (iBookstore) and Mobi (Kindle) formats, getting you one step closer to self-publishing your book.
When you’re all done, you can export as an ePub electronic book.
The bottom line. Scrivener 2.0 is a mature and feature-rich writing tool that offers writers of any ilk an intuitive way to organize, write, and format their work for a very reasonable price.
Mac OS 10.4 or later
Comprehensive features. Plenty of customization. Seamless switching between writing and organizing. Easy system requirements (universal for Intel/PowerPC).
Customization can seem daunting. Minor issues with .doc exports.