Scrivener Tip: View Your Research in Composition Mode

Back in March, I wrote a post about embedding websites into Scrivener. Not only is a great way to keep your research where you can easily find it, it’s also great for minimizing distractions, because you don’t actually have to go online to do a quick fact check. It’s a super-handy little trick, but I recently discovered another little trick that makes it even more useful. With a few clicks, you can see your embeded research files next to your manuscript as you write in Composition Mode. Check it out:

Composition Mode

First a quick explanation of Composition Mode. If you click this little icon at the top of your Scrivener window, the rest of your desktop will fade out so that all you see is your project.You can adjust the settings with a pop-up menu at the bottom, and exit Composition Mode by hitting escape. Try it.


This is great and all… but what if you need to reference some of your research while you’re writing? Going back to the post I wrote about embeding a website, imagine you’re writing something set in a coal mining town, and you want to reference this great article you found as you’re writing.

Keep Your Research Handy

Here are four simple steps for accessing your research while writing in Composition Mode:

1. Click on the research you want to be able to see while you’re in Composition Mode. For this example, I’m using a website I embeded about coal mining towns.

2. Click on the Quick Reference icon, circled in red here. You will see your research (in this case, the website on coal mining towns) in a pop-up window.

3. Click back into the text of your manuscript. For many people, just being able to have your research in that pop-up window while you work in the normal Scrivener display will be enough, but if you like working in Composition Mode, check it out:

4. You can click the icon for Composition Mode and the pop-up window will remain visible, even though the rest of your desktop will fade away.

Bam. There you have it. Your writing and your research side by side, without distraction.

It should look something like this:

If it doesn’t look quite like that, you can adjust the view using the pop-up menu at the bottom of the screen so that your page shifts left or right. You can widen or shrink your draft. And you can move the research window around by dragging it.

But Wait, There’s More

Now that you know this little trick, you can use it with any of your files. You’re not limited to embeded websites by any means. It works just as well with any research files, or character studies, or place descriptions. You can can even select a whole part of your manuscript to show in the pop-up window as you write.

Play around with it. Have fun. And let me know if you find any other ways this little trick can be used to make our writing more efficient.

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2 Responses to Scrivener Tip: View Your Research in Composition Mode

  1. Bryan Fagan November 17, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    You have convinced me of adding this to my Christmas list.

    • April November 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm #


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