Working Faster in Scrivener with Additional Substitutions


In the previous article on Working Faster in Scrivener with Auto-Complete List we examined a way to pre-populate a list of auto-complete suggestions specific to the document you’re currently working in so little lists will pop-up as you type, allowing you to quickly select words from that menu and save yourself a little time in the long run.

This article is going to deal with enabling additional substitutions, allowing you to use shorthand for long chunks of text you find yourself typing over and over. For instance, if you write about science often, sometimes you’ll need the long form of a term, like deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s usually shortened to DNA, but sometimes you’ll have to write it out in full, and perhaps look up the spelling.

By enabling additional substitutions you can program a unique text string, such as ‘dna/’ to represent the longer string ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ so that when you type ‘dna/’ Scrivener automatically converts the text to ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ for you. I recommend using a dedicated escape character, like ‘/’, to delineate the end of a shorthand snippet. If not, typing the name ‘Edna’ would result in the automatic conversion to ‘Edeoxyribonucleic acid’, and nobody wants that.

Bear in mind that additional substitutions are not document specific and will be available in every document you work on so long as additional substitutions are enabled. This could be a blessing or a curse depending on your situation.

The Nuts and Bolts of How to Do It

Go to Tools/Options and click on Corrections. At the bottom of the Options pane is a section called Substitutions followed by a checklist. The last item on that list says ‘Enable additional substitutions’ — make sure that box is checked.

Below and to the right you’ll find a button that reads ‘Edit substitutions…’ Clicking on that opens another pane called Substitutions. Here is where you build your list of snippets.

Click on the ‘+’ button (bottom left) to open yet another pane. You’ll see two text boxes, one labeled ‘Replace:’ and the other labelled ‘With:’ Type ‘dna/’ in the Replace box and ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ in the With box to get the handy-dandy DNA example for you, or start building your own list to suit your own purposes.

Auto-Correct You Most Common Typos

Do you mispell misspell a lot of words? If so, it’s additional substitutions to the rescue for you.

Click the ‘+’ button and fill in ‘teh’ for Replace and ‘the’ for With and you’ll never spell have ‘teh’ pop up in a document again.

But what if you want ‘teh’ in a document. Say you have a story that takes place with lots of internet references. Then open the Substitutions list again to replace ‘teh/’ with ‘teh’. I know, the shorthand is actually longer in this example, but life is quirky and so is Scrivener.

If there’s anything else you want to know about Scrivener that I haven’t covered yet, just ask in the comments and I’ll see how I can help. Thanks!