Jan 26 2012
The part of my experiments of organizing and restructuring things has been exploring new software. My latest discover has been a new word processing software, Scrivener. This software is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux OSs.
When looking for software to ease dissertation writing, I stumbled upon Scrivener. So far, I really enjoy it as an alternative to Word or Pages (the Mac equivalent). I type my notes for class and consequentially, I either end up with a lot of Word documents or a never-ending, scrolling Word document that is cumbersome to use. Scrivener creates “projects” where I can easily organize my notes and label the contents of the subfile.
In the screenshot below, I have notes that I’ve taken. Each index card can be labeled so the contents of each page are clear. I can either click on the files under “Draft” to access each file or click on the corkboard. This feature is already pretty nice for organizing schoolnotes; this will probably be a time saver for dissertation notes.
In terms of actually typing in the document, it’s similar to Word for me. Some key features a friend has noted enjoying is being able to enter a full screen mode that blacks out everything but the page you are writing. That’s handy for those who get easily distracted.
I haven’t even unpacked all of Scrivener’s features, but I’m already impressed and very much considering a conversion to Scrivener. Some particular features I’m eager to try are the exporting functions. Besides Word, Scrivener can export to LaTeX, which is typesetting software. Although I am not obligated to use LaTeX for my dissertation, LaTeX has some valuable features (namely, with figures) and produces professional, good-looking documents. I plan on using it. Exporting to LaTeX is not trivial, and I have had friends tell me that the formatting becomes messy if you type in Word and copy-paste into a the LaTeX compiler. If Scrivener can really create LaTeX files, particularly with maintaining the formatting, I’ll be really sold. Right now, for a $45 piece of software, I’m already quite impressed.
There is a learning curve, but it isn’t too extreme. In any case, the creators of Scrivener offer a very generous free trial; you receive 30 days of actual use, meaning that if you only use Scrivener once every week, you can use it for 30 weeks. I think this software has multiple uses beyond academic; I could see it being very handy for organizing dance notes, choreographing, etc.