For me, Collections really exemplify the flexibility offered by Scrivener. With this feature you can quickly bring together related documents from different parts of your project. You choose the relationship – it might be based on search criteria, status, or even something meaningful only to you.
You could use a Collection to experiment with organising your writing in a different sequence, or to isolate particular chunks for more attention, for example by creating a Collection of documents marked ‘To Do’.
There are two types of Collection in Scrivener, Standard Collections and Search Collections. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Standard Collections
A Standard Collection is created manually by adding files, typically by dragging and dropping them. This could be useful if you want to send certain thesis sections to your supervisor or editor.
To create a Standard Collection, click the Collection icon in the toolbar.
Next click the plus icon and give your Collection a name. Here I’ve called it ‘For supervisor’.
Now you can click and drag documents from your binder into this new Collection. To add multiple documents, hold down the Ctrl key as you select them. To remove a document, select it in the list and then click the minus sign next to the Collection name.
When I come to compile my Scrivener project, which usually means exporting it to Word, I can choose this Collection. This is quicker than having to select the relevant documents from a potentially long list.
Also, a Collection allows me to experiment with the order in which my documents appear. Any changes you make to the sequence within the Collection won’t be reflected in the Binder, so it’s really handy for playing with ‘what if…’ scenarios.
2. Search Collection
This is essentially a saved search, a concept you’ll be familiar with if you use Zotero or Evernote. In Scrivener it means that a Collection is created based on certain search criteria. For example, you might have a Search Collection that groups together all your documents marked ‘To-Do’. Importantly, this Collection is dynamic, so documents are automatically removed if you update their status to ‘Done’ (and documents are added if their status changes to ‘To Do’).
To create a Search Collection, first you need to run a project search. Here I’m searching for any documents marked ‘To Do’.
Once you’ve run the search, click the arrow next to the magnifying glass and choose Save Search as Collection.
By default, the name is your search term, but you can change it to whatever you like.
Your new Search Collection now appears in the list.
As I said earlier, if you update a document status to ‘Done’ is will disappear from this Collection. To prevent automatic updating, select the Collection then click View > Collections > Convert to Standard Collection.
To delete a Collection, select it and then click the minus sign to the right of the Collections header.
I often use a Search Collection to compile all my documents marked ‘Revised Draft’. I can then easily print them out for scribbling and feedback from others. I also regularly use it for documents to which I’ve assigned my ‘Check References’ status. Some days my brain just doesn’t want to write, so it’s lovely to have an easily accessible drongo job – i.e. one that moves my project forward without taxing my mental faculties.
Please do give Collections a try – they can streamline your workflow and make life a tiny bit easier. And do let me know if you have any good tips.
To find out more, take a look at my ebook How to Write Your Thesis with Scrivener.