Scrivener – Draft academic template for academic writing

At the urging of Twitter user beautyiswhatudo, I have posted up here my academic template for writing journals and publications according to a somewhat generally accepted approach.  The reader can download the Scrivener 2.0.4 template here.

I do have some notes for someone intending to use this template; these notes are included in the Academic template.

To the user:

This Scrivener 2.04 template provides an overall structure of how to proceed with writing an academic paper in Scrivener.  Much of this generated table of contents etc is based on research in the social sciences (Information Systems discipline).  Other advice has been sourced from the University of Queensland RHD Handbook (included as part of the research materials at the bottom), and from the publication Turabian, K. L. (2003). Identify key terms expressing concepts that unite the report and distinguish its parts:  Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (7th Edition ed.). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

This template will need to be customised for someone seeking to write papers (note:  this is a paper for journal or conference publication, not a thesis.  A thesis will have more and varied sections.

Note that to use this document, you should note that text within []’s needs to be searched for and replaced. And before you ask, [lorem ipsum] is generally considered to be Latin for ‘Insert Text Here’.

Released as is without warranty express or implied.  As the author, you will need to make changes to this template for your use.  Nonetheless, if you like it or  have an improvement to suggest, please feel free to email me at with recommendations or feedback.

Thanks:  Micheal Axelsen

Here is a PDF so you can see what the template looks like; there is considerable metadata inside the Scrivener template with instructions for completing the paper.  You can only access that material, though with a copy of Scrivener.

View more documents from Micheal Axelsen.

Hope that you find this of some use.  I may update this from time to time.  As always, feel free to email me on with feedback, or leave comments below.

[PS:  You might be interested in this other post on my blog, where you can see how I use Scrivener, EndNote and Evernote for academic writing:  Using Scrivener and EndNote together on Mac OSX]


25 thoughts on “Scrivener – Draft academic template for academic writing”

  1. That’s fine, I hope it helps some people.

    I’ve found Scrivener to be really stable – and it saves every two seconds apparently – which is more than I can say for Word, which kept collapsing out and losing me lots of work earlier this week (as a result of poor living-with-EndNote).

    Thanks for your comments.

  2. Micheal-
    Thanks so much for posting this. I look forward to spending some time with it this weekend! It’s very kind of you to share, and I look forward to keeping up with all your good ideas. 🙂

  3. That’s not a problem. I will update it as I refine it – I think I will incorporate feedback from reviewers for papers I submitted to conferences (re-emphasise: specific examples of contributions made by the paper upfront for reviewer happiness).

    A paper I wrote was just rejected for a conference (one accept, two rejects) and, sigh, they were a little vociferous with their comments. Fortunately I’m only starting out properly with an academic career.

    Thanks: Micheal Axelsen

  4. Dear Michael,

    I just stumbled across your template and really like the look of it. A question though, I use Scrivener for the PC. Do you know of any way to convert the Mac template to a PC one?

    Also, unrelated to the above, but do you know of any way to use Endnote with Scrivener?

    • Ian

      I understood the template should ‘just work’. It’s a standard Scrivener file I thought… Can you let me know if it doesn’t.

      Bearing in mind of course that scrivener on PC remains very much a beta product.

      As for EndNote it’s really easy and reliable, if a little tedious. I actually have a video on this exact topic on YouTube:

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks: Micheal Axelsen

  5. version 2 of the template, should also include a sample image. like you did for the table.

    Excellent work. Thanks very much. This prevented me from reinventing the wheel.

  6. Thanks for a great template.
    I have only just started using Scrivener and your template is very helpful.

    One question, how do I remove the non-printing characters (e.g space, return, new paragraph, q etc) so they are not visible?


  7. Hi there. To hide paragraph marks or space marks and return marks and so on, you need to choose ‘Hide Invisibles’ in Scrivener.

    To do this, choose /Format /Options/ Hide Invisibles.

    To show paragraph marks or space marks and so on you do the reverse – choose /Format /Options/ Show Invisibles in Scrivener.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks: Micheal Axelsen

  8. Thomas

    Thanks for the heads-up. I moved hosting providers and that link didn’t make it – apparently.

    You can download again now.

    Thanks: Micheal Axelsen

    • No worries, very happy to share. I mean, it’s an agglomeration of stuff you’ll find all over the place; it might not even work for your field. But hopefully it helps.

      Thanks: Micheal Axelsen

  9. Just getting started using Scrivener for academic work. I’m trying to import the template using the Options > Import Template and this file is not selectable. Is it not a true “template” file? Is there something else afoot? Thanks.

  10. Hey there. That’s right, it’s not a template file. Just copy it, give it a filename you like, and then open it in Scrivener and start to edit it.

    I can’t remember why I didn’t make it a specific template; there’s probably a good reason. But it’s just a normal Scrivener document.

    Thanks: Micheal.

  11. Thanks Michael for this and also your video on making Scrivener work with an endnote database. I’m glad I found scrivener early enough in my thesis to be able to switch, as I have a lot of colleagues using Word and I can see them having breakdowns over Word’s incessant crashing for files larger than even a few MB, and taking far too long to repaginate a longer document when you type into the middle somewhere. It really halts the writing when you have to stop and wait for the Mac to catch up to Word’s processor-heavy motions. I’m finding Scrivener awesome, but it wouldn’t be a viable alternative if it weren’t for its interoperability with Endnote.

    The next issue is going to be how I can create different types of text, as in my field, linguistics, I use a lot of example sentences, each of which have to be numbered sequentially across the entire document, and which will have their own paragraphing and formatting. Is this something that Scrivener can handle easily, or will it be some hacky workaround such as making each example sentence its own ‘chapter’ with its own formatting at the compile stage?


  12. Hi @Jangari.

    Glad that I could help. On the Mac I am now committed that there is no way I would try to write long documents with Word. Pages, maybe, but not Word. But even Pages I am fairly sure is not suited for 300+ page documents.

    If I understand what you mean, sequential numbering is easy. Simply an incremental number label that is tagged with a label.



    and then


    should work. So long as you don’t refer to the second example before the first example in your text.

    For the formatting that’s a bit tricky. I’m not sure what you mean by your hacky workaround with chapter formatting at compile stage – but the way I’ve seen something similar done (so you can have ‘pseudo-styles’) is to give your different style formats their own font size (or font) that is not used elsewhere in the document that you then search-and-replace in the final document (a macro would do that for you).

    The format at compile stage option – not quite sure how that would work… but it may be more elegant.

    Thanks: Micheal Axelsen

  13. HI Michael
    PLease can you tell me which template is suitable for writing a thesis. I am a PhD student in the UK? Sorry to be such a pain, but following your fab blog/video made me download scrivener, but I a not sure which template to use for the PhD.

    Also, is Endnote the best system to use with Scrivener? I am currently running mac Lion.

    Thanks and apologies if this is an inappropriate posting


  14. For your thesis I would just use the academic paper template I have given above (you saw the academic paper template right?) and modify it to suit – no matter what, you will need to reformat to meet your uni’s formatting requirements (noting that Scrivener is not a word processing tool, it’s a word writing tool – special formatting is best left to Word or Pages still).

    Your thesis structure will be driven by what type of phd you are doing (research-based, theoretical, qual, quant, interpretivist, post-positivist, etc).

    I use EndNote because UQ provides it free to students. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but in my field it seems to be the most common. I would NEVER use Cite While You Write though – it is far far too flaky.

    I also use OmniGraffle to do up graphics etc, although Powerpoint/Keynote do passable jobs with their drawing tools.

    Thanks: Micheal

  15. I just finished reading the Scrivener tutorial. Now when I go File > New Project > Options > Import Templates it is looking for a file like *.scrivtemplate, but I don’t see such a file in the zip file of your template. How do I load it as a template, or do I manually copy the project and start editing ?

      • Thanks for replying @MaltedFalcon – I must have missed replying. What you say is right.

        Thesis is in final write-up stage at the moment so I am busily neck-deep in thesis and teaching two MBA classes.

        Thanks: Micheal Axelsen


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