Scrivener and Other Writing Tutorials, Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Scrivener Quick Start | How the Scrivener List Style Outliner Works

Plot or track your progress using the list style Outliner view

Select the folder you want to view in Outliner View and make sure the Outliner is selected from the View Mode selector in your toolbar.

Adding and rearranging documents in the Outliner

  1. As with the Binder and the Corkboard view, you can drag and drop files to rearrange them. Any changes you make inside the Outliner view are reflected in your Binder. Don’t forget you can hold down the option key to force your file to stay on the correct level.
  2. You can add new text files and folders in the same way as you add them to your Binder. Add one by selecting the appropriate icon from the footer bar, open the Add tool in your toolbar or go to Project > Add New.

Managing your synopses in the Outliner

  1. If you have a synopsis assigned to your document you will find it displayed below the document title.
  2. You can edit a synopsis by double clicking inside its text and adding your changes. Whatever changes you make will update automatically in the Synopsis window in the Inspector. You can just as easily edit in the Synopsis window and the changes will update back in the column in your Editor.  
  3. On a Mac you can hide the synopses if they are not necessary for the task at hand by clicking on the Show/Hide Synopsis icon in the footer bar. 

Customize your 'Sort By' options in the Outliner's title bar

  1. Click on the little arrow in the header bar to add and remove Sort By options from your title bar. 
  2. Click once inside a column title to change the Sort By order of a column.
  3. Click and hold on a column title to drag it into a different position.
  4. Hover between two columns until you see the double arrow to resize columns.
  5. Open the Up/Down arrows to choose a different label or status stamp.

Use the Outliner view to keep track of other documents in Scrivener

Let me give you an example of using the Outliner view for a project that is not specifically about writing a manuscript. Here I am tracking all the documents I need to submit a query to an agent. 


  1. First open the Sort By list and get rid of any columns that you don’t need and choose ones that will be useful
  2. Here I have clicked inside the Label column title to sort by label so that I can see at a glance what type of job needs to be done at once.
  3. I can see that I still need to work on one synopsis and one short query
  4. I can keep track of my word counts so that they are roughly what agents request.

Finding your documents back in the Binder

To open any of the documents in the Outliner to work on in the Editor, just right click on it and choose Reveal in Binder from the dropdown menu. The document will highlight in the Binder and of you select it, Scrivener will automatically revert to Single Document mode where you can work on your text.

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