Writing a book or a thesis involves seemingly endless revisions and it can be very difficult to keep track of them. Also, constant tinkering doesn’t always improve matters. With Scrivener you can actually take a ‘snapshot’ of your current document before editing and then ‘roll back’ to the original version if it ends up looking worse.
To take a snapshot, make sure you have the document open, then press Ctrl+5 (Cmd+5 on Mac). You’ll hear the satisfying sound of a camera shutter. Click the Snapshots icon in the Inspector, and you’ll see your snapshot listed.
The time and date of the snapshot is logged. You can give it a title here, or if you use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+5 (Cmd+Shift+5 on Mac), it’ll prompt you for a title. You might, for example, take a snapshot before implementing changes suggested by your supervisor or editor (they’re not always right).
I really struggled with the word count in my thesis (it was more than 20,000 over the limit), so snapshots helped me experiment with removing quotes and peripheral arguments. Sometimes the impact was too great in later chapters, so I was able to just roll back to the original version. To do this, select the relevant snapshot and click Roll Back.
Just above Roll Back you’ll see plus and minus signs. You can use them to add or delete snapshots.
Mac users can also compare revisions:
You’ll then see any changes marked in the pane below.
Click Original to return to the version without the marked revisions.
Snapshots also save annotations, comments, and footnotes, so this is a very powerful feature. It’s always worth taking a snapshot before deleting bits of your thesis, as you never know when they’ll come in handy for journal articles or conference papers.
To find out more, take a look at my ebook How to Write Your Thesis with Scrivener.