should you upgrade the new scrivener 3

The New Scrivener 3.0 – Should You Upgrade?

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Did you know Literature and Latte released version 3 of their acclaimed writing software Scrivener?

Scrivener is famous for its rich functionality, but also its steep learning curve. If you’ve taken the time to learn an existing version of Scrivener, or are a newcomer looking to try it out yourself, making the move to version 3 might seem overwhelming or unappealing.

So why exactly should you consider making the change?

Today, I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why many authors are making the upgrade to Scrivener 3, as well as the key facts related to upgrading and whether you should.

Scrivener 3: Key Facts for Interested Writers

Here’s what you need to know about Scrivener 3.0 in a nutshell:

  • Scrivener 3 is currently available for MacOS, with a Windows version in development.
  • Scrivener 3 costs $45 for new customers.
  • If you purchased an older version of Scrivener at a date later than August 20th 2017, Scrivener 3 is available as a free upgrade.
  • If you purchased an older version of Scrivener prior to August 20th 2017, Scrivener is available for $25.
  • Scrivener 3 is fully compatible with its iOS version.

Also, be sure to look for updated scrivener coupons, regardless of whether you are looking to upgrade or just check out Scrivener for the first time.

So, now that you know the “what’s” of switching to Scrivener 3, let’s consider the “why’s.”

Scrivener 3 Is More Intuitive With a Cleaner User Interface

Scrivener 3 has moved towards a more intuitive and aesthetically-pleasing experience without sacrificing complexity, which you can see in action here. They have achieved this by:

  • Simplifying the process of using features such as “Compile,” without sacrificing any of their power.
  • Replacing Project Notes, References, and Favorites with a single “Bookmarks” mode.
  • Refreshing the visual feel of Scrivener to be more modern.

Scrivener 3 Cleaner Interface

Scrivener 3 Has Better Writing Stats to Assist Your Planning and Productivity

I’ve long felt one of the best reasons to switch to a pro writing software such as Scrivener is the ability to plan and track word counts, along with other quantifiable features which greatly assist productivity and output.

Scrivener 3 can help with this by:

  • Allowing you to set word counts for an entire project, or particular writing session, and monitoring your progress towards them.
  • Assigning statuses and keywords to different aspects of your project, allowing you to keep a track of your efforts.
  • Viewing your Writing History to gain greater insight into your productivity patterns.

Scrivener 3 Has a Brand New “Linguistic Focus Mode” for True Language Lovers

One of the new modes authors are loving is the “Linguistic Focus Mode” which can be seen in the below image.

Scrivener 3 Linguistic Focus Mode

This new mode allows you to:

  • Highlight specific categories of words, such as verbs, adjectives, or direct speech. This can help you notice your own repetition and other blind spots.
  • Craft more believable dialogue. By having everything but direct speech fade into the background, you are forced to confront any cliched or repetitive conversation.

Prior to Linguistic Focus, you would have to use a separate tool to carry out this type of analysis, thereby losing flow and focus.

Want to Learn More About Scrivener?

Thanks to the widespread use of Scrivener, there are a couple of resources authors should check out if they are looking to learn more about Scrivener:

Scrivener’s Blog — Although they don’t keep it up-to-date as much as I’d like, it does have great information.

Scrivener’s Forum — A great place to look for help, recommendations, and any known bugs you might run into.

Scrivenerville — A website devoted to teaching authors about Scrivener features and ways to use Scrivener best for your writing needs.  It’s sort of what I’d wish Scrivener’s blog would do.

Scrivener:  To 3 or Not to 3?

In addition to the above benefits offered by version 3 in particular, I love Scrivener in general because it allows me to:

  • Research, write, edit, and export in a single-software environment, no matter whether I’m switching between Mac, Windows, or iOS.
  • Participate in a community of writers developing and sharing scrivener resources/
  • Use the same software favored by bestselling writers I respect such as Michael Hyatt.
  • Enjoy a no-pressure, 30-day trial of the software, where a day is only deducted when the software is used.

I personally love the fact that this new version will help me to be more organized when setting up to outline my books using different Scrivener functionalities.  This will help me to be a more effective and efficient writer.

So give it a go, and you might just find that when it comes to Scrivener, version 3 really is the magic number.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Do you use Scrivener for writing your stories? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments!

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About Dave Chesson | @DaveChesson

Dave Chesson is the creator of and the software, KDP Rocket, where he spends most of his time working on book marketing strategies. If you’d like to learn more about Scrivener, be sure to check out his review and get a 20% off discount.


  1. Karen Keil says

    I haven’t tried Scrivner, partly because I assumed it cost much more than $45, partly because of the learning curve, and partly because I have Word Now that I have been corrected about the price, I’ll have to look into it.

    • No – and use one of those Coupon codes, and get 20% off of 45. Learning curve can be steep depending on how many features you want to use. There are so many cool things you can do with Character develop and continuity checks.

  2. I’m known as a Scrivener evangelist round these parts. I say this with absolute sincerity: If Scrivener cost as much as a car, I would still buy it. I need this program in my creative life. Maybe it’s because I have ADD? I am so much less overwhelmed than when I’m trying to deal with an unwieldy word document. The clarity of working on one discrete chunk at a time is so helpful. And with the binder always in full view, I never get lost. (you can hide it. I just keep mine open.) When I get crits, I just jot the feedback down in the notes section for that individual scene. So easy to refer to when I go back for revisions.

    The learning curve is steep. The first version I bought 5 years ago had a 500 page instruction manual. This is a really complex piece of software, and I probably only use 40% of its countless features. But you can learn it slowly, expanding features only as you need to. Once you grasp the basics of the editor you can hit the ground running and worry about the rest later. (protip: Make folders for every chapter, and put the scenes in each folder as text documents. This will make compiling easier. I learned the hard way.)

    $45 is a joke given what this program has done for my writing life. I simply cannot imagine using anything else. The split screen function alone is worth the money. I use that feature every day. I use Snapshot all the time to preserve draft versions. There are so many customization options. I made my editor purple. I’m loving the new compile function of Scrivener 3 – so much more easy to grasp. (Compile is my most challenging feature, but wonderful. I love being able to give beta readers Kindle formatted versions of my novel.) And the interface of v3 is much cleaner.

    I will say, having used both, I prefer Mac to Windows. It feels more intuitive. Given that it’s absolutely risk free to try for 30 days, I don’t see why anyone would decline to at least check it out. I respect that it’s not for everyone, but for me it’s life changing. I don’t think I would have finished my novel without it. #scrivener4ever

    • I’d second everything you said. Amen to that! I discovered Scrivener when I was working for Apple and they gave me a free copy (way back when they were unheard of). I used it to write my Thesis. Fell in love with it immediately.

      • I just used another feature I should mention, as I’d forgotten how awesome it is. I sent someone my manuscript in a word document. They returned it to me in MS word, with their comments and suggested edits. I easily imported the Word doc, with comments, into Scrivener (you can drag and drop it right in) and am now using my split screen editor (one with the original document, one with the marked up Word doc) to edit my original document. I wish I could share a screen shot to capture the beauty of this… here, try this link:

        Left to right, for those new to Scrivener: The binder (every document in the novel, nicely structured), Editing Pane 1 (my friend’s edits), Editing Pane 2 (the original document), and the inspector (which shows my friend’s comments imported from Word, at the moment.)

        You can compare any two documents in this way (and with Scrivener 3, you can even open a 3rd research pane, which I learned in the tutorial.) I mainly use the split screen editor to keep a ”scraps for Chapter X” file always on hand concurrent with my working draft, in case I want to delete something and add it back in later (happens all the time.) And, if you save a ”Snapshot” of the original draft, as I did, and decide you don’t like your changes, you can convert back to the original document at any time.

        This is the kind of stuff I take for granted now.

  3. My oldest Scrivener project dates back to 2011, and I upgraded to 3.0 pretty quickly after it came out. I found some of the changes nonsensical (to me, as the user) but all in all, I wouldn’t go back.
    I have to throw in a plug for the Literature and Latte Support Staff. They are uniformly helpful and pleasant, and worth the price of admission themselves, when something strange happens.
    I’m loath to suggest the 30 day trial is sufficient to get fr up on the learning curve, but it’s a good introduction, if you’re serious about trying it.
    Cliche alert: It stands head and shoulders (and chest and belly, too, over Word or LibreOffice, as a way to handle writing projects, through to an uploadable epub or Kindle file, or a pdf for Createspace.
    No matter your decision, best wishes in your writing!

    • Nice – I first used it in 2009 for my thesis and I completely agree with you about the 30 day free trial. But for $45 (minus 20% if you use a coupon) it pays for itself pretty quickly.

  4. In the past, I’ve entered test pieces, taken from several published novels (not ‘self’, or ‘vanity’ published), into free trials of a few of these tools. Without fail, they fell down badly (the tools, not the pieces).

    Suggested substitute words would usually dumb down the piece, or change the intended meanings or nuances, often considerably so. Likewise, the removal of adjectives and even adverbs.

    Correctly spelled words (like ’emphasise’, ‘café’, and ‘naïve, for example) were often flagged up as incorrect, despite the tool being set to ‘British English’. Also, that very American, but poor, writing habit of leaving out those words and punctuations which help written English to flow was often evident in the suggested revisions.

    The pieces, once ‘edited’, read like sterile instruction sheets, or like writing intended for the very young or educationally challenged reader. That’s fine, if that’s the intention, but not if the writing is aimed at those who read for the pleasure of language. The whole beauty of the pieces was being taken away, leaving them sterile and bearing little resemblance to literature worth reading for anything other than cold information.

    These tools might be fine for dealing with press releases, company reports, instruction manuals, and other corporate writing from those for whom the writing comes secondary to their knowledge and expertise in their own fields, but for fiction or other creative writing, where the writing itself is the ‘job’ and not an ancillary to something else (like marketing, or operational matters within a company) they seem to emasculate the creativity that gives good writing its character.

    I’ll trust myself to get things (almost) right, then trust my editor to make any other suggestions. Between us we’ll muddle through… He’s got my ninth book at present for editing (and I’ve recently edited one of his… It’s a useful working arrangement). Occasionally our publisher has some input too… but usually only very minor, and more to do with layouts or ‘blurbs’.

    • No tool online can replace a good editor. As mine says “don’t fear the red pen.” She’s pretty ruthless…haha.

    • I agree that the British English dictionary is not accurate and I’d have hoped that a major update like this appears to be would have fixed that!

    • Chris,

      You make some good points about editing programs, but I think you’re missing the point of Scrivener. Yes, it has some light editing features, but where it shines is in the organization of your project.

      Scrivener at its heart is a database which allows you to easily move chapters, scenes and more at will. It will allow you to create sections for characters, themes, backstory, or whatever you need to write your project.

      When I first started writing my novel in Word, I had backstory in parenthesis, at the end of the document, anywhere, just to keep it from getting lost. But in Scrivener, you can keep all of these things available to you, and split your screen so you can create or review a scene while looking at the character sketch, for instance.

      So before you critique Scrivener, please give it a go. You’ll find it’s easy to export your files to a more thorough editing program. By the way, I’m getting pretty fond of Pro Writing Aid. If you end up using Scrivener, you’ll find the two programs work beautifully together.

  5. I started using Scrivener last fall and I love it! 🙂 I have recently upgraded to version 3 without any problems, and I am still happy with it. I guess I am using only a fraction of this powerful tool, but it suits my needs and my way of writing and organising. I have experienced a few glitches in version 2, but so far nothing bad has happened in version 3 (knock on wood!).
    A tool I definitely recommend!

  6. K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

    Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Dave! I’m definitely upgrading as soon as the Windows version comes out.

    • Haha…yeah, I just wished they’d tell us exactly when that will be. But someone who has worked in the software world, we both know how those ‘dates’ go. 🙂

  7. Scribalist says

    I’ve always wanted to work things out by hand and as a result, Scrivener has never been on my shopping list. But with those features, it may be time to rethink my writing tools.

    • I love the corkboard aspect to planning, but I always start by using an artist’s canvas notebook to map my works first – I just personally love it, and it always puts me in the mind frame that this is art. Then Scrivener is my technical muse 🙂

  8. I’m a Windows user, so I’m also waiting on Scrivener 3. One clarification — you could always set a Project and a Session word count in Scrivener, so that’s not a feature exclusive to 3. I used the Session counter during NaNo, where I’d set the counter for the ~1600 words you have to write in a day, and check the little progress bar. In the Windows version you can find both counters in Project –> Project Targets. The other features you describe sound interesting.

    I adore Scrivener. Before I discovered it I was a diehard Corel WordPerfect user. Scrivener’s output to epub is very clean; it makes the tweaks and styling go very quickly in Sigil, an epub editing software. I tested Word –> Jutoh –> epub for a project at work once. *Shudder*. It took way too long to clean up the code.

    The Linguistic Focus — do you know if they’ve added a “project-specific dictionary” feature, so you could add words to the dictionary that are exclusive to one project but not others? That is, if you’re making up words for your fantasy or sci-fi, or deliberately using an archaic spelling for your historical fiction, a project-specific dictionary would accept “chuse” for “choose” in your Regency-era mystery, but will flag “chuse” in your Regency-in-Space story.

    Tip for anyone writing words with foreign symbols: Scrivener will let you customize the autocorrect feature, as you can in WordPerfect (and Word) to automatically insert the symbol in words you know you’ll use frequently. Example, I have a character named Zoe with two dots over the E. I just type Zoe without the dots and Scrivener autocorrects to put the diaeresis marks over the e, with no intervention required from me. In Windows you can do this from the Tools –> Options–>Corrections menu.

  9. I have Scrivener but don’t really use it. The learning curve turned me off, but primarily it’s because I used Chromebook to write away from home a lot and there’s no compatibility or a cloud-saving option. I use Google docs instead, which works out great for me.

    $25 feels like a steep upgrade cost, but if I used it regularly I might not think so.

  10. I recall seeing that the current version has plug-ins for One-Drive and Google Docs (to Katie’s concern).

    One reason I haven’t pulled the trigger on Scrivener, is that I write in Google Docs because it is easy to share the file directly for editing/beta reading. I have a feeling I’d loose that ease of feedback management because the app would likely stuff its proprietary format files into the cloud, rather than work with google doc format for the actual content.

    Sounds like I need to wait for windows version anyway..

  11. I got Scrivener late last year (2017) and am stilling learnin’-curvin’ it, have watched a multitude of YouTubes trying to master even the basics. (Is it just me, or do most YouTubers on the subject speak waaaay too fast? Or maybe I’m just suffering hardening of the eardrums) Maybe I better get the upgrade for Windows as soon as it comes out so I only have to learn ONE version and not have to re-learn (?)

  12. I absolutely do use it, K.M.! It helps me to organize my writing and import a few chapters at a time for contests, submissions, etc. I upgraded to 3 a few months ago.

  13. Interesting. I’ve been using Scrivener for a little while and love it. I’ve got a few days left on my free trial, but I think I’ll buy now and keep using Scriv 2. Especially if it’s uncertain how long it will take for the Windows version.

  14. Scrivener 3 looks awesome! I have a PC and I’m hoping it comes out for that system soon — I bought it in November without knowing about 3, and I don’t want to pay $25 to upgrade.

  15. Cheri Lynn Reeves says

    I’m a writing software aficionado. I test them all, always looking for the better mousetrap. I was one of the first testers of word processors back when the standard writing tool was the typewriter (yes, I am older than dirt), and I upgraded every program I tried every time it improved. For the longest time, I was a WordPerfect guru, until even the legal profession let the far less functional MS Word into my workplace. Eventually I became a Word user/designer, but to this day I find it far less controllable than WordPerfect. If I’d had my druthers I would have stayed with WP, but MS inundated the market with a full suite of programs to compliment Word and the die was cast. Microsoft took over the world and they still dominate the marketplace. Their control over the information world has even forced changes in English usage and formatting standards. They have finally caught up to the level of control that WP had some years ago, though I still resent the fact that programmers have virtually forced changes to the English language because they couldn’t be bothered to write code that could function with some grammatical rules.

    I eventually bought Scrivener for use on my Windows PC despite the fact that I tend to write on my iPad Pro strictly for comfort. When they FINALLY released a version for iOS, I snapped it up because I had been waiting for it so long. Although I love the concept of Scrivener, in practice, it hasn’t worked out so well for me. First off, I have NOT found it remotely intuitive in either version I use. The templates I have collected for my writing just haven’t done what I had hoped for in terms of being a useful tool meant to keep me organized. I tend to store my writing in cloud storage anyway, so moving my work between my devices should not be that much of a chore, and yet it has been. It could simply be that one version just doesn’t covert for use in another or it could be operator error. The infamous long learning curve just doesn’t work for me when I already have a reasonable method for researching, writing, editing and organizing my work. But the one thing I like about Word and WordPerfect is that whatever you type looks like what it would on the printed page. It makes it simple to use and easy to see while I work. At my age being able to see what I’m typing is important.

    And oddly enough, I have gotten used to having autocorrect nudge my spelling back into standardized form (long nails do cause problems with the keyboard). I especially like the fact that I can create specialized dictionaries for my writing (sci-fi). That is definitely something I could really use in Scrivener and it frustrates me that Scrivener has not addressed this issue in their program. I’m hoping that Scrivener gets to the point where this is a part of their program, but until they do, my use of Scrivener will be limited.

  16. As always, thanks for your insight, Dave.
    I see only positives in upgrading to 3. Sounds like it’s well worth the $25 to me!

  17. I was convinced of Scrivener when I took Joseph Michael’s course at and learned at my own pace. I will not leave Scrivener for anything. Will wait for 3.0.

  18. I love Scrivener and am sorry I waited so long to buy it because of the cost (it’s very low for what it is. I was just poor.) Now, I can’t imagine writing novels without it. I bought the upgrade today but I haven’t been able to find anything that tells me what happens to all my current projects if I switch to the new one. Do they go away? That’s rather a terrifying prospect.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      You should just be able to open them in the new version. Just make sure you’ve backed them up someplace in case of accidents.

  19. Rachael says

    I use the windows version and there’s no ‘update from older version’ link in the windows side. Anyone know of it? I don’t wanna buy the new program all over again. =/

  20. I’ve used Scrivener for quite a few years and love it for writing, although I’ve had trouble compiling what I want.
    My question is, is downloading the new Scrivener 3 going to mess up / change my current projects?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I believe this shouldn’t be a problem. But since I’m a PC user, I haven’t been able to upgrade yet. Maybe Dave will see this and chime in.

  21. I love how I can use Scrivener to organize my research needed for my novel. I can let each piece of research to directly follow a particular scene. Otherwise, I have to organize my research in Evernote and write my novel in Scrivener, which easily causes confusions because of the back and forth.

    I upgraded Scrivener 2 to 3 mainly because 3 offers the new dark theme consistent with my mac theme. I can’t type against white background nowadays lol…

  22. Daniel Nourry says

    Do we know if there is a Scrivener 4 coming out soon? I have 2 and am thinking of upgrading to 3, but am hesitant just in case a version 4 is just around the corner. Any advice?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I doubt it. Scrivener 3 still hasn’t released for Windows. A new version is usually a long process. It took years to release 3 for Mac.

  23. Okay. Done.
    I’ve upgraded.
    My previous experience with Scrivener is fraught with frustration. I used it by a recommendation from from Grad Advisor. I spent the next 3 years grappling with both my thesis subject and figuring out this handsomely named writing app.
    Yet someone on here said the learning curve is worth the effort. I’m banking on that. My WIP has a longer time curve than my grad work.
    We’ll see how it goes starting when I transfer my texts.
    Wish me luck…

  24. K B Tidwell says

    I purchased Scrivener several years ago, maybe in 2014, but didn’t get into it for a long time due to the learning curve. I finally decided to just sweat out the schooling, and I’ve been using the beta for 3.0 on Windows for over a year. I’ve noticed that the new beta releases seem to be coming more and more quickly, with the last one having only a two week life span until the next update. That signifies to me that final release may be very soon because up until then releases had been at least a month apart.

    I’ve had a wonderful time learning and using Scrivener, and I’m always learning something new. I’m working on my first novel and it’s coming along faster and faster, mainly thanks to the organizational aspects of Scrivener.

    As one of the early posters here mentioned about their own situation, I have some ADD challenges, and Scrivener has been wonderful for that. It really helps me to focus and avoid analysis paralysis.

  25. bradonpurpose says

    I’ve been using Scrivener for over five years and continue to love it though I’ve resisted moving on to 3 until now which is what brought me to his article. Thanks for the helpful info and encouragement. I also recommend it to my coaching clients who are for the most part just starting out, moving from ‘one day/someday I want to write’ to having today be the day. I wished I’d known such a powerful piece of writing software had been around when I started writing over thirty years ago, but then again, personal computers were just coming into their own at that point. I’ll refer you to this blog article on how my buying one of the first 1,000 Macintoshes led me to finally trying my hand at writing:


  1. […] “Today, I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why many authors are making the upgrade to Scrivener 3, as well as the key facts related to upgrading and whether you should.” Anyone switching to this? […]

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