What Is Scrivener? The App For Essay-Writers

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Content Writer At Gradehacker

As a college student, writing is one of the most important aspects of your journey. Throughout your degree program, you’ll have to write many essays and assignments, which can be both tedious and complex. So, you are looking for a comprehensive writing software that includes excellent editing tools and creates a comfortable working space. 

You need Scrivener.

Why? Because writing is not an easy task, having one specific app can significantly impact your experience and the final result.

If you are looking for a writing app, Scrivener might be the right choice for you, but chances are you haven’t heard of it before. You don’t know what features it has, how you can use it, why it’s for you, and how much it will cost you.

Knowing the answers to those questions is key to determining whether you’ll purchase Scrivener or not. 

Here at Gradehacker, we are the non-traditional student’s most trusted resource. We have shared other helpful writing apps like Grammarly in the past because we understand how much of a change they make to the writing process.

That’s why today we’ll be talking about Scrivener to help you see if it’s the tool you need.


What is Scrivener?

Scrivener is a book writing software that lets you organize all your content in one space. Have your research at hand, structure your writing projects, and write, all within the app. It doesn’t tell you how to write but instead gives you everything you need to start writing and keep doing it.

While it’s mainly targeted at book authors, Scrivener can be used by all types of writers. From journalists and lawyers to non-fiction writers and academic students.

Why is it such a helpful tool for writers? Because it lets you break your content into sections of any size and unites them together. It offers many organizational and editing tools that let you plan your ideas and structure first, so you can later stitch them together.

Plus, they are constantly updating themselves, with the current version being Scrivener 3.0.

Where Can I Use Scrivener?

Scrivener’s current version is available for:

Even if the design and user experience can change from one platform to another, all of their versions include the same amazing features. So, you can choose to write from your phone or tablet or the comfort of your personal desktop.



Scrivener can be a great workspace for all types of writers. But what features does it include?

Editing and Organizational Tools

First, let’s look at how you can structure your content.

Scrivener takes the same editing layout used by processors like Word and Google Docs, so it’s easy for everyone to understand how it works. Add all the formatting you need, highlight sentences, include comments, and insert images and tables.

Also, if you have already started writing in another app, you can import text files, scripts, images, PDF documents, mp3 or mp4 files, and even entire websites.

Because they know that sometimes it’s easier to work on a long text if you break it into smaller paragraphs, Scrivener lets you choose whether you want to work on your entire writing project or a specific section.

Once you are done writing, with the “Scrivenings” mode, you can put all the separate sections together in a single document.


If you plan to write over several days and progress a bit every day, you can set a word or character target for each writing session. Establish your goal in your current document or section, and keep track of the word count as you write. Plus, you can check the Writing History to know how much you wrote each specific day.

Whenever you want to re-read your writing or conduct a significant revision, you can take a “Snapshot” of a paragraph or section, and Scrivener will show you the earlier version of that part. And with their “Compare” feature, you can have both versions side-by-side and see the changes you made.


Now, one of the tools that make Scrivener such a great organizing app is their Corkboard. It’s a visual tool that helps you plan your ideas and the order in which you’ll be writing them.

Just like in a real-life corkboard, you have document notes stitched side-by-side. These cards are the different sections of your content and include a title and a brief synopsis you can add.

So, before you start writing, you can attach as many cards as you want to start visualizing the structure of your paper. Once you have it, you can enter each document and write!

But if you later change your mind and, for example, think that the fourth section would actually work better as the third, you can go to the Corkboard and change the order from there, rearranging the whole structure of your text at the same time.



While Scrivener’s outliner feature works similarly to their Corkboard, it gives you a more complete overview of your text.

This visual tool lets you examine entire chapters, parts of your text, or your whole paper with more information. You can create folders and subfolders to arrange your content better, check the word count, and reorganize the order by dragging and dropping any section you want.

While the corkboard would work best at the beginning of the writing process, the outliner is a better tool for the editing part.



Scrivener also offers a wide range of templates for every type of document.

For authors looking to write a new book chapter, there are location sheets and character templates they can use to start planning their novel.

If you are about to write a new script, Scrivener has scriptwriting features that follow the specific formatting rules. And for people interested in non-fiction or academic writing, there are templates specifically designed for them too.

Interface Design

Finally, let’s talk about how Scrivener adapts its user experience to help writers.

We already mentioned the “Compare” feature, which allows you to see your current and older version of a specific section.

In a similar matter, you can split Scrivener’s editor and have up to four different files open in the same window at once. You can have your text on one side and on the other, a picture, a lengthy document with many statistics, or an mp3 file with a recorder interview you have to transcribe.


Another great feature is that Scrivener lets you customize your workspace as you wish.

With their full-screen mode you can focus entirely on your project with a clean and complete view of your file. Plus, you can change the theme of your document.

Their composition mode lets you work in a light or dark mode, or even add a background picture that makes you feel calmed and focused.



Now, how much do you have to pay?

Scrivener’s costs:

The good news is that this is a one-time fee, so after you purchase it, you get the current Scrivener’s version and all of their following updates for life.

Unfortunately, if they make a significant update and change from 3.0 to 4.0, they will charge you an extra fee if you wish to upgrade to their latest version.

Additionally, each license covers each specific platform. So, if you buy the Windows version, you won’t be able to use Scrivener on a Mac or iPhone.

At least you can use the app on multiple devices as long as they correspond to the license you got. But if you still need to use it both in Windows and Mac, they have an $80 bundle for one license for each platform.

If you want to try Scrivener before purchasing, they have a 30-day free trial period. And what’s best is that it lasts the days of use instead of covering a continuous set of days. 

For instance, if you start your trial on June 1st and use it ten times throughout the month, you still have 20 days available to use in July and so on.

So, you have plenty of time to try Scrivener and see if it’s the app you were looking for.


Scrivener Pros and Cons


Great tool for planning and organizing content

Not available for Android systems

Includes templates for all types of genres

Licenses work only on their specific platform

Has many visual tools to improve your experience

You have to pay for an updated version if they release a new one

Customizable working space

30-day free trial

One-time fee

Is Scrivener For You?

Scrivener is for you if you:

If this is your case, then Scrivener is definitely the editing and organizational tool you need. Its many features make it an excellent choice for authors and academic writers who want to avoid the biggest challenges of writing by improving their planning skills.

And if you are not sure, you can always use their 30-day free trial and make up your mind on whether you like Scrivener or not while you are using it.

However, if writing is not your thing and you aren’t sure that Scrivener will be enough to help, you can count on Gradehacker to assist you with your assignments. From long essays to entire classes, you can reach out and see how we can help you accelerate your journey in college.

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