Scrivener 3 (Literature & Latte)

When Scrivener first came on the scene, it instantly revolutionized the word processing game. Less than a decade later, the idea of writing anything as complex as a novel using a standard word processor seems downright barbaric. That’s because Scrivener was designed by writers, with loads of flexible, intuitive features, all geared toward one goal: organization. Exhaustively imagined, Scrivener is the rare kind of app that breeds legions of devotees for its ability to anticipate just about any need. Now, with the release of version 3, it has somehow gotten even better.

What instantly sets Scrivener apart is its ability to keep large projects (anything from novels to screenplays to term papers) manageable. A “binder” displays all of your documents, from manuscript to research, and invites easy navigation between them. Its tiered approach allows you to drill down with customization, adding subdocuments, color labels, status, keywords (great for tracking characters or plot threads) and more.

You can view and work on your project across three modes: a typical text editor, a corkboard with scene notecards, and an outliner – you can also mix and match these modes in split windows. Which brings us to one of the biggest new features in version 3: Copyholders. This handy addition allows you to split your workspace into four separate panes, opening up countless possibilities in your workflow.

The ability to tailor Scrivener’s features to your needs is one of its greatest strengths, but can understandably feel overwhelming at first. Don’t worry: there are some helpful video tutorials on the Literature & Latte website that’ll get you up and running in no time. But you can also use Scrivener on a more basic level, with built-in templates that allow you to enjoy the app’s organizational bonuses without having to delve into the nitty-gritty of customization.

But, for those who want to explore just how much they can get from the software, version 3 has gone a long way in simplifying that aspect as well. The sleek new look is more than just surface gloss; it extends to a more visual approach to many of the app’s features.

The Compile function (Scrivener’s method for exporting your projects to formats such as standard manuscript, ebook or Final Draft), always a somewhat intimidating, technical tool, has become much more usable. The new Bookmarks feature combines several older features into one very useful tool that keeps your most frequently used documents always at hand. Similarly, the Quick Search bar makes pulling up any other document a snap.

There are countless other features, big and small, that will relieve the frustrated writer and delight the geek in you. But there are far too many to go into here. Suffice it to say that Scrivener is the writing program you’ve been looking for. How you choose to use it is up to you. And if you’re already a Scrivener user, version 3’s additions are well worth the $25 upgrade fee.