AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Jul/11

18

Ariana Weld on Scrivener

My name is Ariana Weld and I am slowly but surely writing my doctoral thesis. I want to tell you about Scrivener.

Rad Resource – Scrivener http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php: According to its website “Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.” I started using Scrivener about a year ago to organize my thesis and it has transformed how I write.

  • Type in a word processing program
  • Maintain a well-indexed set of research materials right in Scrivener
  • Split the screen so that your research content is right next to where you are typing and can be readily referenced
  • Create virtual index cards either automatically (it will make one for each text section that you draft) or purposefully
  • Organize index cards by dragging and dropping them on an intuitive corkboard like interface

At its heart, Scrivener is a powerful word processor – but with lots of added functionality. The key piece, for me, is that it facilitates breaking up your text into smaller parts – as big or as small as I want. If I write a great paragraph, I can define that as a chunk. Alternatively, I can define an idea, a page, something like a chapter, or all of my notes about a particular research source. Once I define a chunk, I give it a title and a short summary (for instance “Confirmatory Research on Student Outcomes”). Then, I can rearrange these to my heart’s content in search of the best flow for what I want to say. This was always the most challenging part of writing for me – getting organized. I would feel like I had tons of material and couldn’t figure out how to get it into a format that was closer to my desired document. I was constantly cutting and pasting before I used Scrivener – and honestly that didn’t work very well.

Scrivener has a free trial and costs $49 to purchase.

Hot Tip: Scrivener has a number of good videos available about how to use its various functions. I would recommend reviewing them before you buy. I don’t think that Scrivener is for everyone. It would really depend on how you write. But for me, it has been an amazing solution that lets me get my ideas on paper. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/video.php

p.s. No, Scrivener will note help you to be more like Scriven…but it will help you to be more organized as you draft large documents.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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2 comments

  • Mollie Williams · July 22, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for this recommendation. I downloaded the free trial and moved my dissertation proposal into Scrivener. It immediately helped me get more organized and spurred me to action on some sections I had been postponing. Thanks again!

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  • Kelci Price · July 19, 2011 at 9:35 am

    As an avid pursuer of free resources, I have found my writing to be greatly facilitated by using some simple features of Word. By using Word’s built-in heading formatting you open up a new world of being able to organize your documents. When I’m writing I add lots of headers to organize my chunks of info as I write (e.g., answers to questions, pieces of research, data collection strategies, etc). I don’t intend to keep these in the final document, but they help define and keep track of chunks of info as I write. I format the descriptive headers using Word’s heading formats.

    Using the heading formats allows me to use “Outline view” and the “Navigation pane” (both under View) to see all the sections of my document without that irritating in-between text. Here’s the key – these two views allow you to drag and drop a header into another place, and the text under that header moves with it!! This makes moving sections and thoughts around very easy. Outline view also allows you to see the structure of your paper collapsed to whatever level you want – main ideas only, first level of sub-heading, all subheadings. I find this invaluable for looking over the structure of my documents and making sure the flow is clear.

    Reply

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