What Works For Me: Scrivener Color Coding Pt. 1

In Tech Support by Bronwen2 Comments

A few months back, I shared this tweet:

It was retweeted by @Scrivener and is my most successful post, proving that funny sells almost as well as sex.

For the uninitiated, Scrivener is software designed specifically for managing large writing projects, like novels. You break the project into individual files–say, each scene or chapter is its own file. Then you can drag and drop those to reorder them, apply keywords for easy searching, and, yes, color code.

At a glance, I can look at my list of chapters, aka the Binder, and see what needs work and how much.

Screenshot 2015-08-11 16.12.56

Instantly I know where my work for the day needs to start: the trouble spots. And over time, it has become this serene blue:

Screenshot 2015-08-11 16.13.28

How cool is that?

How To Do It

1. Edit Label Colors

In the Inspector column on the far-right of your screen, open the dropdown for Label. Mine is called Work, because I was thinking ‘how much work to I need to do?’

Screenshot 2015-08-11 16.17.52

Select Edit.

That opens this familiar window:


You can give the Labels a custom title, like I did (Work).

Double-click on the Label Names to edit them.

Double-click on the color squares to change the colors.

Drag and drop labels to reorder them.

Use the plus and minus buttons to add or delete labels.

Hit OK.

2. Apply Labels to Documents

There are a few ways to do this.

Method A: Select the document you want in the Binder. Right-click on it. In the menu, find Label (or whatever you chose to name it) and select the colored Label you want to apply.

Method B: Select the document in the Binder. In the Inspector, open the Label dropdown and select the colored Label you want to apply.

Do this to a few documents so you can see the full effect. …only you won’t see the effect just yet! That’s step three.

3. Show Label Colors in Binder

In the main menu, under View, find “Use Label Color In” (if you changed the Label title, that’s what will appear here). Select Binder. Voila! You now have a rainbow Binder!

You can also select Icons, Index Cards and Outliner Rows if you’d like to see the colors there instead/as well. Play around with the views to find the one that works best for you.

In Part Two I’ll show you how I use custom icons in my color-coding, specifically for distinguishing POV.


  1. Pingback: Color Coding Scrivener to Keep Track of Your Story at a Glance

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