Product Review

Scrivener Outline

Daniel Midson-Short
April 2, 2020

Our Verdict

The outlining feature is a great option for those who want to their results in a column. Do a search on “Scrivener for Mac” or “Scrivener for Windows” to find the right version for your device.

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What is it?

Writers from varying backgrounds are drawn to the writing software Scrivener. Similar to Microsoft Word and Google Docs, it is a word processor app that assists with typing a single page document or creating a non-fiction book.

However, the features within this writing app are far more advanced. Scrivener’s Corkboard lets you create virtual index cards on a “corkboard” background, which allows you to type notes on the content you’re writing. It’s similar to jotting down reminders on post-it notes but it’s on your computer screen.

A connected feature to this is the Scrivener Outline. Instead of viewing your text on index cards, it’s shown as data in columns. This is equated to a spreadsheet that shows the title of your story, snippets of your work, the word count and much more.

Both options work but in this article, we’ll discuss how Outliner is just as helpful for writing a book or creating a set of short stories.

How is it helpful?

Outlining your writing helps you stay focused on what you want to accomplish. The writing process becomes easier because you’re keeping track of all of your info grouped together in specific columns.

The default settings for the columns are the title and synopsis. At the far right of the screen there is a drop down menu where you can add or hide certain options such as:

  • Created Date
  • Modified Date
  • Character Count
  • Keywords and more

This is helpful when writing a manuscript, formulating a main character, developing a story structure or preparing plot points. You can do a lot of brainstorming before you start writing and take the best idea to compose a book outline.

Good writers understand that before you start to write a book you have to write an outline. In this program, there is an outline template you can use to get your thoughts down. This makes it easier to outline a book.

How to use it?

We will need to add a folder to hold our first file. Go to the Binder section, which is located on the left side of the program. Click on the folder icon and double-click it to rename it. You can write “Chapter 1” or any distinctive name.

Inside of this folder, create a file that will hold a small part of the story for this chapter. As a place holder, you can write one word for the title and a short sentence for the synopsis.

At the top of the program is a toolbar. Click on the last option of the “group mode” section to view the screen in outliner mode. As you write more content, you can drag and drop your files to reorganize them.

Using this short example, you can use a template as a guideline or dive in by writing the character arc for your story. Whatever goal you’re trying to achieve, it’s possible to reach it within this program.


The outlining feature is a great option for those who want to their results in a column. Do a search on “Scrivener for Mac” or “Scrivener for Windows” to find the right version for your device.

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